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Types of epileptic seizures

Types of epileptic seizures

1 in every 26 people in the world are at risk of developing epilepsy in their lifetime. But while the neurological condition is not contagious, it still remains shrouded in misunderstanding. The reason for this is the lack of knowledge about seizures, their accompanying symptoms, and their possible link to epilepsy. 

This lack of information can also cause misdiagnosis and delay in treatment. 

Through this blog, we will throw light on the different types of epileptic seizures and the best treatment for epilepsy in India.

Understanding epilepsy

Epilepsy is a neurological disorder (of the central nervous system) that causes a disruption in the brain’s activity. The abnormal electrical activity in the brain results in seizures, or moments of unusual behavior, loss of awareness, and numbness.

A seizure is the most common and most serious symptom of epilepsy. However, we must note that a single seizure does not necessarily indicate epilepsy. Non-epileptic seizures are caused by physical trauma, poor mental health, diabetes and/or other metabolic conditions, etc. 

Remember: You can have a single seizure and not have epilepsy. If you have epilepsy, seizures will be a part of your life. You can manage your seizures by educating yourself and your caregivers about the do’s and don’ts, medication, and even alternative treatment options like stem cell therapy.

Symptoms of epilepsy

The symptoms of epilepsy can differ from patient to patient. Most symptoms are determined by the type of seizure. An epilepsy patient will usually have the same type of seizure in every episode. Their symptoms of epilepsy will be unique to the seizure, and will also be the same with every episode.

Below are the signs and symptoms of an epileptic seizure:

  • Stiff muscles
  • Staring spells
  • Uncontrollable jerking of arms and legs (commonly known as convulsions or fits)
  • Loss of consciousness or awareness
  • Temporary confusion
  • Psychological signs – patient may experience fear, anxiety, a sense of deja vu

Types of epileptic seizures

There are two types of epileptic seizures. Each of these seizures have different subtypes, which are:

Focal seizures

These seizures are caused by abnormal activity in just one part/area of the brain. Individuals who experience focal seizures are diagnosed with focal epilepsy.

Have you ever felt a dip in your stomach when you sit on a roller coaster? The beginning of a focal seizure may feel like that same dip in the stomach. 

There are two types of focal seizures.

  1. Focal seizures with impaired awareness : The patient may experience loss or change of consciousness. They may stare into space and not respond to the environment, or they may perform repetitive movements like walking in circles, chewing, swallowing, rubbing hands together, etc.
  2. Focal seizures without loss of consciousness : The patient experiences a change of emotions or perceptions. Their five senses may do a complete 180 and perceive the environment and its stimuli different;y. Some patients have been known to experience a sense of deja vu, while some experience dizzying and flashing lights, or even a tingling sensation. Such seizures cause involuntary jerking of arm/leg.

Generalized seizures

These seizures involve the left and right sides of the brain. Individuals who experience generalized seizures are diagnosed with generalized epilepsy.

This type of epilepsy usually begins in childhood. However there have also been cases of generalized epilepsy affecting adults.

There are six types of generalized seizures.

  1. Tonic seizures : This type of seizure causes stiff muscles and can affect consciousness.
  2. Atonic seizures : These cause loss of muscle control. Sudden loss of muscle control can cause the patient to fall down or even collapse (without visible reason).
  3. Absence seizures : These are commonly known as petit mal seizures, and typically occur in children. Individuals experiencing such seizures may stare into space with or without repeated blinking or lip smacking. These seizures can last anywhere between 5-10 seconds and can occur in clusters. This means they can occur as often as 100 times in a day/ They may cause temporary loss of awareness.
  4. Myoclonic seizures -: These seizures cause sudden, brief jerking or twitching of arms and/or legs.
  5. Clonic seizures : These seizures are typically characterized by repeated jerking movements of the neck, face, or arms.
  6. Tonic-clonic seizures : Such seizures cause a sudden loss of consciousness, accompanied by body stiffening, shaking, and jerking. They can cause loss of bladder control, or even cause the patient to bite their tongue. This is the most serious epileptic seizure.

Combined epilepsy

Though rare, there have been cases of patients being diagnosed with combined epilepsy. These patients experience both focal and generalized seizures, along with a mixture of the symptoms mentioned above. It is caused by the rare mutation in the SCN1A gene

Unknown epilepsy

When doctors are unable to pinpoint the exact cause of recurring seizures, the patient may be diagnosed with unknown epilepsy. And more often than not, they experience tonic-clonic seizures, the most serious epileptic seizure. Unknown epilepsy may have a mixture of motor and non-motor symptoms like:

  • Loss of bowel and/or bowel control 
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Muscle stiffness
  • Respiratory troubles
  • Rhythmic and rapid jerking; convulsions
  • Stillness
  • Staring into space
  • Sudden stop in movement

Epilepsy in childhood

Epilepsy in childhood is more common than we realize. However, the good part is  childhood-onset epilepsy is mostly resolved by the time the child reaches their teens. 

In the case of children, doctors may pronounce an epilepsy diagnosis if a child has experienced even one seizure (if it is not a result of a pre-existing condition). Treatment for children with epilepsy depends on their age, type of seizure, and pre-existing health conditions. The doctor may alter/continue with the same treatment depending on how the child reacts to the same.

Medication is the most commonly prescribed treatment plan for childhood epilepsy. This is primarily because the child still has the potential to overcome the condition. However, there are some cases where the medication can only control the seizures, and the child may have epilepsy throughout their lifetime.

It is important to understand that epilepsy does not diminish your child’s potential nor does it stand in the way of them leading a quality life, as long as they receive the right and timely treatment.

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

Stem cell therapy

Stem cell therapy for epilepsy aims to reduce seizures by introducing into the patient’s body a specific group of neurons with inhibitory functions. The regenerative treatment also aims to lower the frequency or even the occurrence of seizures, as well as restore any behavioral deficits caused by the condition.

Plexus Neuro and Stem Cell Research Centre is India’s first ISO-certified stem cell research centre. Founded by Dr Na’eem Sadiq, Plexus offers a holistic regenerative rehabilitation program for epilepsy.  We use autologous stem cells taken from the patient’s own body. The procedure is conducted by Dr. Sadiq, India’s no. 1 stem cell specialist, and his team of highly-skilled and experienced stem cell specialists.

By using the self-renewal, anti-inflammatory, immunomodulatory, signaling, and differentiating characteristics of stem cells, stem cell therapy can make a significant difference in the lives of people with epilepsy.

Book an appointment with Dr Sadiq today.

Call +91 89048 42087 | 080-2546 0886

080-2547 0886 | 080-2549 0886


What is the most serious type of epilepsy?

Tonic-clonic seizure is the most serious type of epileptic seizures. It is characterized by a sudden loss of consciousness, accompanied by body stiffening, shaking, and jerking. It can cause loss of bladder control, or even cause the patient to bite their tongue.

What organs are affected by epilepsy?

Epilepsy can either affect one part of the brain (focal epilepsy) or the left and right sides of the brain (generalized epilepsy).

Does MRI show epilepsy?

An MRI alone cannot confirm epilepsy. The doctor will ask for additional tests to confirm.

What should epileptics avoid?

Skipping medication, stress, alcohol, lack of sleep, exhaustion, and poor diet are among the leading triggers for seizures. Epilepsy patients should definitely avoid these as well as any other triggers they may have identified.

Which fruit is good for epilepsy?

Fruits and vegetables rich in antioxidants are always recommended for epilepsy patients. Some examples are cherries, berries, tomatoes, spinach, brussel sprouts, etc.


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