Epilepsy is a brain disorder that happens when certain nerve cells in your brain misfire. It causes seizures, which can affect your behavior or the way you see things around you for a short time.
There are about a dozen types of epilepsy, and the type you have plays a role in which kind of seizure you may have.
There are two main types of seizures:
Focal seizures: These start in a particular part of your brain, and their names are based on the part where they happen. They can cause both physical and emotional effects and make you feel, see, or hear things that aren’t there. About 60% of people with epilepsy have this type of seizure, which is sometimes called a partial seizure. Sometimes, the symptoms of a focal seizure can be mistaken for signs of mental illness or another kind of nerve disorder.CONTINUE READING BELOW
Generalized seizures: These happen when nerve cells on both sides of your brain misfire. They can make you have muscle spasms, black out, or fall.
Seizures aren’t always an either-or thing: Some people have seizures that start as one kind, then become another. And it’s not easy to classify some of them: These are called unknown-onset seizures, and they can cause both sensory and physical symptoms.
There are six types:
Tonic-clonic (or grand mal) seizures: These are the most noticeable. When you have this type, your body stiffens, jerks, and shakes, and you lose consciousness. Sometimes you lose control of your bladder or bowels. They usually last 1 to 3 minutes — if they go on longer, someone should call 911. That can lead to breathing problems or make you bite your tongue or cheek.
Clonic seizures: Your muscles have spasms, which often make your face, neck, and arm muscles jerk rhythmically. They may last several minutes.
Tonic seizures: The muscles in your arms, legs, or trunk tense up. These usually last less than 20 seconds and often happen when you’re asleep. But if you’re standing up at the time, you can lose your balance and fall. These are more common in people who have a type of epilepsy known as Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, though people with other types can have them, too.