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Partial seizures

Partial seizures

A partial seizure is caused by abnormal electrical activity affecting a small part of the brain. They are also called focal seizures.

There are two types of partial seizures: simple and complex.

While both seizures are types of partial onset seizures, they have some inherent differences. 

In this blog, we will take a closer look at partial epilepsy, its symptoms, causes, the difference between simple and complex partial seizures, and the best treatment for partial epilepsy in India.

Understanding simple partial seizure 

Simple partial seizures don’t cause the patient to lose consciousness. They may experience a change in emotions, and in the way their senses perceive regular stimuli. Simple partial seizures are focal seizures without loss of consciousness. They are quick, lasting 1-2 minutes, and are invariably harder to detect.

However, a simple partial seizure may be indicative of a bigger seizure coming soon.

And that is why they need to be detected, diagnosed, and treated right away.

Simple partial seizures can affect – 

  • Muscles of the body (motor partial seizures)
  • The senses (sensory partial seizures)
  • Automatically controlled functions (autonomic partial seizures)
  • Thoughts and/or feelings (psychic partial seizures)

Patients with simple partial epilepsy have experienced unusual sensation or feeling. This feeling is actually a simple partial seizure, known as aura. Many times an aura is a forewarning of a bigger seizure on the way. 

Simple partial seizures affect only a small part of the brain and only occur in one side of the brain.

Understanding complex partial seizure

Complex partial seizures result in loss of awareness and consciousness. Patients may make non-purposeful movements (rubbing hands together, smacking lips, etc.) while in the middle of such seizures. Complex partial seizures are focal dyscognitive seizures. They may begin in the frontal lobe (shorter seizures) or the temporal lobe (relatively longer seizures). 

Complex partial seizures can last from 30 seconds to 2 minutes. The beginning of these seizures may appear like the patient is daydreaming or staring blankly into space. They may lose sense of their environment and zone out

Patients with complex partial epilepsy can also experience aura. In addition to this, they may also carry out repetitive movements, called automatisms. These include:

Oral automatisms – chewing, swallowing, lip-smacking, etc.

Verbal automatisms – screaming, laughing, crying, moaning, repetitive speech, etc.

Manual automatisms – picking at things, fumbling, head rolling, patting, walking, etc.

After a complex partial seizure, a patient may feel fatigued, disoriented, and even confused. Typically, these after-effects do not last longer than 15 minutes, there have been cases of patients not being able to function normally for several hours.


Patients with simple partial epilepsy may experience different symptoms.

Below are the symptoms of simple partial seizures:

  • Staring blankly into space
  • Muscle tightening
  • Pain and/or discomfort
  • Unusual head movements
  • Tingling
  • Numbness
  • Eyes moving from side to side
  • Hallucinations
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Dilated pupils
  • Sweating
  • Vision troubles
  • Sweating profusely
  • Feeling a sense of déjà vu
  • Mood and/or emotion swings
  • Temporary loss of speech

Symptoms of aura can be:

  • Fear
  • Feeling of impending doom
  • Euphoria
  • Changes in vision, hearing, smell, taste (less common symptom)

Symptoms of complex partial seizures can be:

  • Depression
  • Autism
  • Anxiety
  • Stress
  • Head trauma
  • Stroke
  • Tumor
  • Brain infection


Like the symptoms, triggers of simple partial seizures can be different for each patient. Triggers are not always easy to identify. So, the best way to find out your triggers is documenting what happened just before a seizure. You can write down what you were doing at that moment, what you’ve done up until that point in the day, what you’ve had to eat and drink, and what you were feeling just before the seizure.

Some common triggers of simple partial seizures are:

  • Exhaustion
  • Dehydration
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Skipping your anti-seizure medication
  • Other medications: antibiotics, painkillers, etc (always inform/remind your GP if you’re taking anti-seizure medication, they may prescribe medications that do not trigger seizures)
  • Infection
  • Alcohol
  • Caffeine
  • Flashing lights (can also trigger larger seizures)
  • PMS

Triggers of complex partial seizures can be:

  • Fever
  • Flashing lights
  • Fatigue
  • Loud noises
  • Low blood sugar
  • Stress
  • Side-effects to certain medications
  • Anger
  • Anxiety
  • Intensive activity

How to prepare for a simple partial seizure?

If you’re a caregiver of a patient with partial epilepsy, here’s what you should do –  

  • Remain calm and keep an eye on the time
  • Make sure you stay with the person until the seizure is over
  • Place something soft (like a towel roll, pillow or cushion)  under their head
  • Turn the person on their side; this helps to keep airways clear
  • Once the seizure is over, speak to them in a calm voice and explain to them what just happened
  • Make small but relevant talk that will determine if they are lucid – ask them their name, the date, their birthday, etc.


  • Hold the person down
  • Try to stop their movements
  • Put anything in their mouth
  • Give CPR
  • Offer food or water until they are fully alert


Call 102 or 108 immediately if – 

  • The seizure lasts 5 minutes or more
  • The patient is pregnant
  • They have more than one seizure


An electroencephalogram (EEG) is the most useful way to diagnose epileptic seizures. An EEG records the electrical activity in the brain, like unusual spikes or waves in electrical activity. These electrical activities show up as patterns in the EEG. Each pattern corresponds to a type of epilepsy.

Other tests used to diagnose epilepsy include:

  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
  • Computed tomography (CT)

The above scans may help determine the cause and location of the abnormal activity in the brain. They can also alert the doctor about any scar tissue, structural problems, or tumors in the brain.

Treatment options

Depending on the frequency and symptoms of the partial seizures, doctors may prescribe:

  • Anti-seizure medications
  • Brain surgery
  • Low-level electrical charge devices

Treat epilepsy at Plexus 

Plexus offers custom treatment plans based on your unique condition, age, frequency of seizures, as well as other health factors and comorbidities. Our aim is to facilitate overall improvement by making structured routines a part of the patient’s daily life. This can go a long way in helping them better manage their condition.

We have been able to effectively control seizures with the correct use of anti-epileptic drugs. However, in some cases, drugs do not help as much as we would like them to. Sometimes seizures still occur or some patients cannot tolerate some drugs. And this is why we offer other kinds of therapy for patients who are unable to benefit from medications and conventional treatments.

At the Plexus Epilepsy Clinic, we help you to – 

  • Minimize your need for anti-seizure medications
  • Significantly improve your quality of life
  • Reduce associated costs of living with Epilepsy
  • Lower risk of complications and emergencies associated with seizures
  • Increase your chances of returning to work

Book an appointment with our epilepsy specialists today.

Call +91 89048 42087 | 080-2546 0886

080-2547 0886 | 080-2549 0886


What do simple partial seizures feel like?

Patients with simple partial epilepsy have experienced unusual sensation, like a rising feeling in your stomach, or a feeling of déjà vu.

Is partial epilepsy a disability?

Epilepsy is a disabling condition. But with the right treatment it doesn’t have to be a disability that inhibits you from leading a quality life.

Do simple partial seizures show on an EEG?

Yes, an EEG is an effective test to detect and diagnose simple partial seizures. The spikes and sharp waves on the EEG can indicate the part of the brain that has abnormal electrical activity.

Are partial seizures normal?

Partial seizures are most common in children as young as 1 year old. While they are common and usually harmless, they also need immediate medical attention. 

What are the effects of a simple partial seizure?

Simple partial seizures can affect – 

  • Muscles of the body (motor partial seizures)
  • The senses (sensory partial seizures)
  • Automatically controlled functions (autonomic partial seizures)
  • Thoughts and/or feelings (psychic partial seizures)


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