Epileptic seizures

Epileptic seizures are caused by an "electric storm" within the brain. The seizure discharge can cause very different forms of symptoms in people suffering epilepsy. It is a sudden episode which usually alters consciousness and disrupts the regular activity of the patient. It can cause falls, putting the patient at risk for injury. If the seizure lasts more than a few minutes, or if there is the occurrence of a flurry of seizures, urgent medical care should be sought.

Video about Epilepsy from the Spanish Society of Neurology


Types of epileptic seizures:

  • Generalized or convulsive seizures

     It provokes loss of consciousness with muscle stiffness and fall to the floor, followed by violent muscular contractions. There can be biting of the tongue, as well as loss of bladder control. Consciousness returns slowly, and the person is tired or confused afterwards. They usually last 1-3 minutes. If it lasts longer than 5 minutes, the patient needs medical help.

  • Myoclonic seizures

             They are brief twitches or jerks of a muscle, or a muscle group. They last a second or two and do not affect consciousness.

  • Absence seizures

   They are brief lapses of awareness, which start and end abruply, usually with staring, and sometimes with blinking.They are frequent in children, and sometimes are so brief, they can go undetected for  a long time.

  • Simple partial seizures

   The person can experience either motor, sensory,  autonomic, or psychic symptoms, or a combination of these. She is usually totally aware and alert. 

  • Complex partial seizures

   They can start with an aura, and there is usually loss of awareness with a blank stare . Complex behaviour such as walking around, repeating the same words or actions without a purpose and  automatisms (lip smacking, picking at clothes) is common. If the seizure is subtle, it can go unnoticed, or it may seem the person is daydreaming.


¿How to deal with an epileptic seizure?




  • Stay calm and assist the person having the seizure.
  • Make the person as comfortable and safe as possible: lay them down on the floor, remove sharp objects, clear tight clothing around the neck and cushion their head.
  • Pay attention to the length of the seizure, and the breathing of the person.
  • Do not insert anything into the person's mouth. Do not hold the person down forcibly.

          Inserting any object in the mouth could be dangerous. It can cause airway obstruction if the object breaks, or it can brake their teeth. The tongue cannot be swallowed during a seizure.