By Dr. Sankalp Mohan, Neurology
Epilepsy is a disorder of the central nervous system, thus it is basically a neurological disorder. In this the nerve cell activity of the brain is disrupted and causes seizures along with episodes of unusual behavior along with the loss of consciousness. The symptoms of the seizure can vary and some people with epilepsy just stare blankly for few seconds when a seizure takes place, while some twitch their arms and legs repeatedly.
Symptoms of Epilepsy:
As epilepsy is caused by the abnormal activities in the brain cells, seizures affect the processes with which the brain coordinates. Some signs and symptoms are:
- Staring blankly
- Confusion which is temporary
- Uncontrolled jerking movements of the legs and arms
- Loss of awareness and consciousness
- Psychic symptoms
Mostly the symptoms vary depending on the type of the seizure. The seizures are further classified into focal and generalized depending on which part of the brain shows abnormal activity.
When seizures are due to the abnormal activity of the cells in just one area then it is known as focal seizures. These seizures are of two types:
- Simple partial seizures or the focal seizures without loss of consciousness. These seizures basically alter the emotions and the things like change in smell, look, sound and taste. These also result in the involuntary jerking of the body like the legs and arms, with spontaneous sensory symptoms like the tingling and flashing of the lights.
- Complex partial seizures or the focal dyscognitive seizures. These seizures have a loss of awareness and consciousness. One might just stare blankly into space in this seizure and performs repetitive activities like swallowing, chewing, walking in circles and chewing.
There are six types of generalized seizures. These are:
- Absence seizures, also known as petit mal seizures, are commonly seen in children and are characterized by subtle body movements like lip smacking and eye blinking and staring blankly into space. These also cause loss of consciousness.
- Tonic seizures lead to stiffening of the muscles. These affect the muscles of the legs and arms and also cause to fall to the ground.
- Atonic seizures are also called as drop seizures. These cause loss of control in the muscles, thereby leading to collapse or fall.
- Clonic seizures are the rhythmic and jerking muscle movements. These affect the arms, face and neck.
- Myoclonic seizures appear as twitches in the arms and legs.
- Tonic-clonic seizures also known as grand mal seizures are very dramatic and lead to body stiffening, abrupt loss of consciousness, shaking and loss of bladder control and tongue biting.