Epilepsy – Symptoms, types, causes and risk factors


When you have epilepsy, then your brain is affected which means that you will have seizures very frequent or repeated. In the UK the number of people who are suffering from this disease is 500.000 people. This is a reason to be worried because one in every 100 people in UK is affected with epilepsy. [1]

Symptoms of epilepsy

When you have repeated seizures, then you should be worried because this is the main symptom of this disease. There are different types of seizures which are depending from the area of your brain which is affected. People who suffer from this kind of disease can have any type of seizures. But in the most cases people who have epilepsy are having repeated seizures. This symptom can occur when you sleep or when you are awake. Seizures are classified by how much your brain is affected. This is a classification which is given from doctors. There are partial or focal seizures which mean that people with epilepsy have small part of their brain which is affected. Also there are generalized seizures in which people who suffer from this disease are having big part of their brain is affected. But also there are some unclassified seizures which are not taking part of the mentioned categories. [2]

Partial seizures

There are two known types of the partial seizures.

  1. Simple partial seizures: When you have this type of seizures, then you are fully conscious when it is happening. These kinds of seizures are also known as “auras” or “warnings” because they mean that another type of seizures will come. If you feel some of the mentioned symptoms, then you must inform the people who are around you because in this way you can feel that you are in a safe place. The symptoms of the partial seizures are
  • Stiffness or twitching in part of the body, such as an arm or hand
  • A general strange feeling that is hard to describe
  • Experiencing an unusual smell or taste
  • A sudden intense feeling of fear or joy
  • A “rising” feeling in your tummy – sometimes likened to the sensation in your stomach when on a fairground ride
  • A tingling sensation or “pins and needles” in your arms and legs
  • An intense feeling that events have happened before (déjà vu)
  1. Complex partial seizures: When you have lost your sense of awareness and when you do not have idea what have happened after the seizure has passed, then you have complex partial seizures. [3] There are many symptoms of the complex partial seizures (which are involving random and strange bodily behavior) such as
  • Rubbing your hands
  • Smacking your lips
  • Chewing or swallowing
  • Adopting an unusual posture
  • Making random noises
  • Picking at clothes
  • Moving your arms around

If you have complex partial seizure, then you will not be able to respond to anyone around you and you will not known what has happened.

Generalized seizures


  • Clonic seizures: The symptoms of this type of seizures similar to the symptoms of the myoclonic jerks (you have some kind of twitching) but in this type the symptoms are lasting longer. In normal way they last more than 2 minutes. Also in this type of seizures you are losing your consciousness. [4]
  • Myoclonic seizures: When you have this type of seizures, then you have seizures that are causing your upper body, arms and legs to twitch or jerk which are similar to people who have got electric shock. They last a fraction of a second and you are not losing your consciousness through this period. They can occur in the combination with the other types of the generalised seizures and usually they are happening in the first few hours after you are awake.
  • Atonic seizures: In this type of seizures your muscles are suddenly relaxed which mean that you have increased chances to fall to the ground which means that you have increased risk getting an injury. [3,4]
  • Absences: They are affecting children. Also can occur in adults. People are losing their consciousness for 15 seconds. Some people smack their lips or flutter their eyes during this attack. Also people look like they are staring vacantly in the space. They will not know that seizures have happened. [5]

Above are the different types of generalized seizures (epilepsy).


[1] Epilepsy Action. Epilepsy facts and terminology. Retrieved from epilepsy.org.uk

[2] Stafstrom CE, Carmant L. Seizures and epilepsy: An overview for neuroscientists. Cold Spring Harbor Perspectives in Medicine. 2015;5(6):a022426.

[3] Kotagal P, Rothner D, Erenberg G. Complex partial seizures of childhood onset: A five-year follow-up study. Archives of Neurology. 1987;44(11):1177-80. doi:10.1001/archneur.1987.00520230057014

[4] Ramsay E, DeToledo J. Tonic-clonic seizures: a systematic review of antiepilepsy drug efficacy and safety. Clinical Therapeutics. 1997;19(3):433-46.

[5] Stanford Medicine. Research locates absence epilepsy seizure ‘choke point’ in brain. 2016. Retrieved from med.stanford.edu/news/all-news/2016/12/research-at-stanford-locates-absence-epilepsy-seizure.html


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