The differences between a seizure, epilepsy, and seizure disorders are confusing to many people. What makes it more confusing, is that they are not the same
thing. A seizure begins suddenly, and is a symptom of another disease. When a
seizure occurs there is uncontrolled activity in the brain that usually only
lasts for a short period. While a seizure disorder is a medical condition, in
which the person has episodes of uncontrolled activity in the brain producing
symptoms that include one or more seizures.
Epilepsy is considered a seizure disorder.
There are two types of major seizures, generalized and partial seizure type and the symptoms depend upon the part of the brain affected, and may include:
- Loss of consciousness
- Thought disturbances
- Eye rolling
- Stiff limbs
- Twitching on only one side or a portion of the body like an arm or leg.
- Involuntary urination or bowel movement
- Repetitive shaking or jerking of the body
- Staring into space, sometimes with eye blinking
- No loss of consciousness, but the person becomes confused for a few minutes
A third type of seizure is called unclassified seizure.
Seizure disorders are classified under two types of major seizures (generalized and partial), and a third type called unclassified seizures. There are about 40 types of named seizure disorders. The symptoms and signs are different depending on the part of the brain affected by the seizure. Examples of seizure disorders are:
- Febrile seizures
- Benign Rolandic epilepsy
- Catamenial epilepsy
- Absence seizures
- Frontal lobe epilepsy
Sometimes there is a known cause for a seizure like alcohol, cocaine or other illegal drug abuse, drug reactions, a severe chemical imbalance in the blood, or medical problems like low blood pressure. Treatment, management, and prevention of seizures include medication and avoiding any known causes or common triggers.
CDC. "Types of Seizures." Updated: Apr 10, 2017.
Harvard Health Publications; Harvard Medical School. "Generalized Seizures (Grand Mal Seizures)."
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