Symptoms and Signs of Epilepsy

Medical Author: John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP
Medically Reviewed on 3/11/2019

Doctor's Notes on Epilepsy

Epilepsy is a chronic neurological condition in which a person has recurrent seizures. A seizure is an abnormal surge of electrical activity in the brain that results in a temporary disturbance of motor, sensory, or mental function. There are different types of seizures, depending primarily on what part of the brain is involved.

Symptoms of generalized seizures involve the whole body and may include crying out or making some sound, stiffening for a few seconds, then rhythmic movements of the arms and legs. Other symptoms include open eyes, the appearance of not breathing, loss of urine, gradual return to consciousness, and confusion following the seizure. Symptoms of partial or focal seizures may involve only parts of the body such as rhythmic movements or jerking of a hand, strange sensations, small repetitive movements such as picking at clothes or lip smacking, and a dazed or confused appearance. Symptoms of absence or petit mal seizures are brief and may include impaired consciousness, blank staring, or repetitive blinking or other small movements.

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Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.