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Different Types of Generalized Seizures

A generalized seizure occurs when electrical activity on both sides of the brain is disturbed, leading to loss of body control and, often, consciousness. A generalized seizure may have a variety of symptoms.

Seizures are likely to last only a few seconds or minutes. If a seizure lasts longer than this, it is important to seek medical attention right away. The affected person will typically return to normal after it has taken place, but complications can arise, such as injury from collapsing or an inability to regain consciousness. 

Types of Generalized Seizures

1. Absence Seizures

This is known as petit mal seizures. These are staring spells that start suddenly and might be mistaken for simple daydreaming. The individual may have an absence seizure for 15 seconds or less, typically not moving and just staring in one direction. The episode resolves on its own, and even though the person may not recall what happened during the seizure, their normal state of alertness returns right away afterward.

2. Atonic Seizures (Drop Attacks)

Drop attacks involves a sudden reduction in muscle tone which causes a person’s body to go limp, slump or collapse, possibly causing injury. This type of seizure characterizes certain epilepsy syndromes such as Lennox-Gastaut syndrome.

3. Myoclonic Seizures

This is characterized by sudden body jolts or an increase in muscle tone as if the person had been jolted with electricity. 

  • Infantile Spasms – this is a subtype of Myoclonic Seizures. This typically begins between the ages of 3 and 12 months of age and may persist for several years. Infantile spasms usually consist of a sudden jerk followed by stiffening. 

4. Tonic and Clonic Seizures

  • The person with a tonic seizure may experience muscles stiffening and lose consciousness. The person may make gurgling sounds while struggling to breathe.
  • Clonic seizures cause muscle spasms and jerking. Muscles in the elbows, legs, and neck flex and then relax in rapid succession. 
  • Tonic-clonic seizures or also known as grand mal or convulsive seizures occur when tonic and clonic movements happen at the same time. 

Diagnosis of Generalized Seizures

If a person is affected by symptoms consistent with a seizure, then it is recommended that they visit a medical professional. Several tests can be run to check whether a person may be epileptic. 

  • Electroencephalograph
  • Brain scans
  • Blood tests
  • Nonepileptic seizures

A doctor will typically be unable to confirm a diagnosis of epilepsy until at least a second seizure has taken place. What appears to be a generalized seizure may sometimes be down to another, non-epileptic condition, such as a panic attack or Tourette’s syndrome

Treatment for Generalized Seizures

There are various types of medication are used to control seizures. These medications may include:

In certain cases, doctors may recommend stopping the use of anti-seizure medication, for instance, if several years have passed since a seizure has taken place. 

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