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Overview of seizures

Seizures are the result of abnormal patterns of electrical activity in the brain. There are many different types of seizures because the irregular activity can affect any part of the brain.

Seizures associated with a change in electrical activity are called epileptic seizures. Seizures not associated with a change in electrical activity are called nonepileptic seizures. However, the most common types of seizures are as follows:

  • Grand mal seizures affect the entire brain. Entire body spasms and complete loss of consciousness are hallmarks of grand mal seizures.
  • Petit mal seizures may only involve brief episodes of staring and unresponsiveness.
  • Partial seizures only affect a small part of the brain and may have very specific symptoms.

Seizures can be isolated events. Recurrent seizures can be a sign of epilepsy. Seizures may occur with symptoms, including:

  • Difficulty with memory
  • Hallucinations
  • Loss of vision or changes in vision
  • Changes in hearing, taste, or smell
  • Changes in mood, personality, or behavior
  • Confusion or loss of consciousness for even a brief moment

Following a seizure, the person may feel weak or tired or have changes in mood and behavior.

When to seek emergency care

Call 911for any type of first-time (new onset) seizure for proper evaluation. Call 911 for a seizure lasting longer than five minutes or under these circumstances:

  • The person is unconscious.
  • The person is injured or experiencing trouble breathing or other serious symptoms.
  • Multiple seizures occur in a short amount of time

Our experienced neurosurgeons at Dignity Health provide personalized care for seizure signs and symptoms in AZ, CA, and NV, whether this is your first or one of many seizures. Call 911 or Find a Doctor today for reliable treatment.