Seizures and Epilepsy: Frequently Asked Questions

James A Whitlock, Jr, MD, Northeast Rehabilitation Health Network
Seizures and Epilepsy:  Frequently Asked Questions

What is a seizure? If someone has a seizure, does that mean they suffer from epilepsy?

A seizure is a change in behavioral state which results from abnormal electrical activity in the brain. Given the right set of circumstances (e.g. - blow to the head, intoxication, high fever) anyone can experience a seizure. The occurrence of a seizure in the presence of some acute precipitating physiological disturbance does not mean that it will ever happen after the precipitating cause has resolved. When seizures recur without any obvious precipitant or cause, then a person may be considered to have epilepsy.

What happens during a seizure?

"Grand Mal" - Primary Generalized, Tonic-Clonic Seizures

  • The true generalized seizure is characterized by sudden loss of consciousness, usually without warning. At onset there is usually a general stiffening of the body, often with forceful expiration of air (and a peculiar sound as this air passes through the throat). If the person having the seizure is standing when this happens, there can be a hard fall to ground or floor. This "tonic" phase of the seizure is generally very brief but is responsible for a number of things which often frighten witnesses. Because virtually all skeletal muscles in the body are forcefully contracting at the same time, there may be biting of the tongue, passage of urine, (rarely) defecation or vomiting, and sometimes a change in color to a purplish-blue (due to muscles of respiration being stuck in the tightened state). This phase generally lasts about 30 seconds.
  • Immediately following the 'tonic' phase of a seizure, convulsing begins as forceful, rhythmic jerking of arms, legs, head and neck. This activity is variable in both its forcefulness and its duration, but it can last a couple of minutes, building up in intensity and then fading out while the frequency of shaking remains relatively constant. Skin/lip/nail bed color generally returns to normal during this period.
  • After the convulsing ceases, there is usually a state of deep sleepiness. During this period, all the muscles that were convulsing are deeply relaxed. If a person in this state is in a position which makes it hard for them to breathe, they may NOT change their own position (see following section). The folklore about people with seizures "swallowing their tongue" actually relates to the possible airway obstruction which can occur in a person who is on their back with their head flexed forward during the very sleepy period after a major convulsion.
  • As the sleepiness lightens, a person recovering from a seizure may initially be confused or even hard to engage in conversation beyond a few words. The confusion more often than not passes over minutes, but the desire for a retreat to bed to sleep for a while sometimes lasts for quite a while.
  • If a generalized convulsion is prolonged (5 minutes or more) or if it is followed by a second seizure before complete recovery (person is awake and interactive), it is time to seek medical assistance.

"Temporal Lobe Epilepsy" - Complex Partial Seizures (often erroneously labeled 'petit mal')

  • The second most common form of seizure in adults is "partial" (i.e.-the electrical 'storm' involves some but not all of the brain) "complex" (i.e.- disturbance of consciousness). Usually the area of brain involved in the seizure activity is the temporal lobe. But other parts of the brain can give rise to seizures which fall under this heading. What most of these seizures have in common is:
  • Some form of warning or "aura" with an awareness that something is about to happen. This may take the form of a mental picture, a noxious odor, an unusual sensation in the stomach, the perception of a voice or music, even a particular recollection;
  • Loss of awareness without collapse/unconsciousness (as if 'auto-pilot' takes over);
  • Duration of minutes during which there may be automatisms -- repetitive, non-purposeful acts -- (eg.- lip smacking, swallowing, picking at things, garbled or semi-random speech, aimless walking or manipulation of objects);
  • A period of confusion lasting minutes after the episode, possibly with sleepiness (but not the profound somnolence that generally follows a major convulsion). The person in this state may walk around, as if with purpose. Rarely, aggression may be manifest during this phase - especially if someone is attempting to passively restrain/direct movement. This aggression, when manifest, is not well-focused, not 'thought-out' and can often be avoided by leaving the person alone for a few minutes.
  • There is actually quite a bit of variety in the behavior individuals with this type of seizure exhibit. But once a seizure of this type has expressed itself in an individual, any subsequent episode generally has the same aura and outward behavioral appearance as the first one. There is total amnesia for the period of the seizure and variable amnesia for events just preceding and following it. Sometimes, in some persons, this type of seizure precedes a generalized convulsion (see above) as the electrical signal spreads out from one part of the brain to the entire brain.

"Focal Fits" - Simple Partial Seizures

Seizures which involve only part of the brain ("partial") without alteration of awareness ("simple") can occur in persons who have had injury to the brain (as from trauma, stroke, hemorrhage, malformation, tumor). Most commonly, they involve rhythmic (2-3 cycles/second) twitching of face, hand/arm, and/or leg on the side of the body opposite to the side of brain from which the seizure emanates. Generally, this type of seizure lasts minutes. In some individuals, it forms the prelude to a generalized convulsion. Occasionally, it can go on for a very long time (hours-days). The longer it lasts, the greater the associated fatigue. Extremely prolonged versions of this seizure type can interfere with sleep, cause muscle pain and lead to exhaustion.

Other Seizure Types

The true "petit mal" seizure type (also known as "Absence Attacks" or technically, "Primary Generalized Seizures - Absence Type") is observed almost exclusively in children. It is mentioned in this section only to assist in the campaign for accurate terminology.

Absence seizures are characterized by abrupt and brief interruption of consciousness without convulsion. During the typical, seconds-long episode there is "loss of contact", "spacing out" rarely with chewing, swallowing, or blinking automatisms. Sometimes an individual continues doing whatever they were doing at seizure onset, though in an automatic way. During the episode, interaction is not possible. These episodes can be very brief, subtle and easily missed by a nearby observer. Normally, whatever activity a child was engaged in before the seizure is continued following it. Sometimes children with these seizure types are misdiagnosed with learning or behavioral problems.

There are a host of seizure types which are seen only in children or infants.

If I see someone having a convulsion, what can I do?

First, what NOT to do


  • There is no place for the "tongue blade" at the bedside or in the home. In fact, it is dangerous. Many sticks, teeth, and other things have been broken by persons attempting to prevent "swallowing of the tongue". The same applies to fingers - never place anything in the mouth of a person who is actively seizing/convulsing.
  • It is sometimes appropriate to place an oral airway after the seizure has ended, but only if you've been trained in its use (and there happens to be one present). There is another way to deal with the airway during the profound sleepiness which sometimes follows a seizure -- (read on).


  • Soften the surface, remove obstacles/furnishings, get the person to a safe spot, cushion head with your hands, YES. Restrain, NO.


  • The cyanosis (bluing of lips, nails, skin) that may accompany what in essence is a brief "respiratory arrest" at the beginning of a convulsion is caused by contracted and 'stuck' respiratory muscles. It is not something that can be altered by any bystander/caregiver. It should pass relatively quickly, with improvement in color as the convulsion proceeds.
  • If the above state lasts beyond a minute, OR if it is followed by relaxation (instead of convulsive movements) with persistent bluish color, it would probably be wise to assume that this IS a respiratory arrest and NOT a seizure. [In which case the proper response would be Basic Life Support].


  • The person should be talking before any attempt is made to give anything by mouth.

Now, what TO do. (Sometimes the most important things are the simplest)

  • Especially if this is the first seizure you've ever witnessed, or if you don't know anything about the person's medical history, feel for the carotid pulse. Feeling this should provide the necessary reassurance that the individual is not experiencing a cardiac arrest. Hopefully, you can relax enough to remember the following tips -
  • Create the safest possible environment for the seizure. Position away from objects which threaten injury. Provide a soft surface, if possible. Cushion head with hands to prevent banging of head against the ground/floor.
  • As the seizure ends and a state of deep relaxation ensues, place the person in the "recovery position".
  • Never should the individual be left flat on their back - that position invites airway obstruction (by a relaxed/swollen tongue dropping to the back of the throat, blood from a bitten tongue, or vomitus). If, after positioning the person there is any sign of ineffective breathing (loud snoring type sound, little/no air moving to/from mouth/nose), ensure that there is nothing in the mouth by sweeping your finger through, removing any debris as you do so [NOTE WELL- The seizure has stopped at this point and the person looks as if deeply asleep]. If there are dentures, this is the time to remove them. If after doing the foregoing there is still a loud snoring sound, try extending the neck a bit more. Other options to help open the airway include use of an oral airway or a performance of a "jaw thrust maneuver".
  • Recovery should proceed over minutes, though significant fatigue is likely. If there has not been any injury (eg.- no significant cuts to skin or tongue or concern regarding injurious effects of a fall to ground/floor), the person should be allowed to fulfill their desire to rest.
  • Seek medical/hospital treatment if their is any concern about significant injury or if this is the individual's first seizure.

A couple of unusual situations

[Author's note: I doubt that it would be possible to address every contingency pertaining to responses to seizure in any document - even in the ultimate hyperlinked Web-work. Hopefully, the most common scenarios will ultimately be well addressed in these pages.]

There are a couple of unusual circumstances that are worth noting, especially because awareness can have a major impact upon outcome in particularly dangerous situations.

  • Seizure in water (e.g. - swimming). No one should swim alone. Persons known to have epilepsy of any type should not swim without their escort realizing that a seizure in water can be a particularly dangerous thing. During the forced expulsion of air at seizure onset, a seizing person would tend to sink quite rapidly. Then, with onset of the convulsive activity, water would tend to be drawn into the lungs. In non-convulsive seizure disorders, the impairment of awareness or movement control could pose some difficulty to a rescuer, but should not be dangerous as long as the head is kept above the water. Bottom-line? Consider the depth of water used during recreation as well as use of device which add some buoyancy.
  • Concern about possible neck injury in fall during a seizure. Fortunately, it seems to be remarkably rare for serious injuries to accompany seizures. Still, occasionally the fall at seizure onset is a hard drop to a hard surface. Especially in medical settings, such an occurrence tends to reflexively result in taking extra precautions with respect to possible neck injury. This means applying traction to the head in such a way as to minimize flexion/extension movements, especially after the convulsion ends. There is still a need to move the person into the recovery position, the difference being that someone has to continuously hold the head in such a way as to keep the spine straight. This can pose a bit of difficulty for one attendant if the person who had the seizure is having difficulty breathing. This situation calls for a "jaw thrust", with the caveat that the neck should not be extended.
  • Seizures which are prolonged or which occur one after another... are a special circumstance in that they may hurt the brain. Emergency medical attention should be sought immediately.

What observations about a seizure (or what I think was a seizure) might be important to my physician?

The observations of a witness are generally key to diagnosing the various forms of seizure and in distinguishing seizures from episodes that can be confused with them (such as faints, various forms of tremor, and a host of unusual causes of episodic behavioral phenomena). While patients can often provide key information (or all the information necessary when there is no interruption of consciousness), a witness/observer is the only one who can provide the information which leads to an accurate diagnosis. Specific observations have particular relevance depending upon the whether this is a person's first seizure, a recurrent seizure or an episode differing from past seizures.

In general, it might be good to write down your observations soon after the episode while memory is fresh, using the following as a guide. [Some questions would best be directed to the person who had the episode, others to a witness].

First Seizure

  • What was the person doing immediately before the episode?
  • Has there been any traumatic loss of consciousness in the recent (or remote) past? [Be able to provide details]. Has there been any recent illness (fever, "flu")?
  • Did the person seem to have a feeling that something was about to happen before the episode? Was it even more specific than a 'feeling'?
  • As the seizure began, what did you see first? Was there any color change in skin, lips or nail-beds? Were there movements of eyes to one side? If so, which side? Did one side of the face twitch before the other? Did one limb start jerking before another? [In general, if any movements or postures were seen more on one side than another, it can be helpful to know which side did what.]
  • In non-convulsive episodes, a description of exactly what the person did/said during and shortly after the episode would be helpful. Note the duration of the spell; between onset and resolution of any confusional period which follows.
  • Was there passage of urine? of stool? Any vomiting?
  • Was there any bleeding in the mouth?
  • How long did the jerking part of the episode last?
  • After the episode, what did the person do?

Recurrent Seizure

  • Did this seizure look the same as prior ones?
  • Was it longer or shorter than average?
  • Have there been any recent medication changes or missed doses of medication?
  • Has there been any recent change in sleep habit (eg.- up all night preceding the day of the seizure)?
  • How much (if any) recent alcohol, caffeine, marijuana, or cocaine has been used? When was it last used in relation to the time the episode/seizure happened?
  • Are there any new medications (prescription or non-prescription) being taken? Any herbal remedies?
  • Have there been any unusually stressful events in life recently?
  • Has there been any major change in weight since the last seizure? [Occasionally, a significant weight change may be associated with a change in blood anticonvulsant level in an individual who had long shown a stable blood level].

Recurrent Seizure, but Different from Previous Seizures

In addition to answers to questions, from the above section ("Recurrent Seizure") please consider the following:

  • Exactly how was the episode different from previous ones? Was there a different 'warning' or "aura"? Did the spell involve a different part or side of the body? Did it start differently?
  • Has there been any recent illness, new symptom of a possible illness? Any recent injury - especially blow to the head?

"Should an extra dose of anticonvulsant be given as soon as possible after a seizure?"

In someone who is taking anticonvulsant/anti-epileptic medication, a "breakthrough" seizure may be a sign of a blood anticonvulsant level which has fallen too low. But occasionally (uncommonly) a seizure can be a manifestation of toxicity from too much anticonvulsant in the system. Thus, unless there have been prior directions from a physician covering this contingency, or it is known that a scheduled dose of medication was missed, it is probably most wise to seek direction from your physician/neurologist before giving any extra medication.

"I haven't had a seizure in years but I still take medication to prevent seizures. Am I supposed to take this for the rest of my life?"

It is easier for a physician to provide well-grounded advice regarding starting an anticonvulsant when a seizure disorder has developed or when a person is at unusually high risk for having seizures. Providing advice regarding when to discontinue medication in the absence of seizures is much more difficult. There needs to be a reasoned weighing of ongoing risk of seizure recurrence against factors such as medication side-effect(s), cost of medications, potential drug interactions, willingness to defer driving during and for a while after the withdrawal of anticonvulsant. These are matters best discussed with your physician/neurologist.

"Is there anything other than medication that can be done to help prevent seizures?"

Seizure activity can be evoked from any brain given the right combination of circumstances. The concept of a "seizure threshold" is based upon the fact that with enough physiological or pharmacologic 'stress', seizures can happen in any mammal (including humans). Individuals differ in what constitutes "enough" of a stress. Some of the factors which influence seizure threshold include genetics (family history), brain trauma (especially "open" or penetrating wounds to brain), a number of medications and drugs (including things not often thought of as "drugs"), body temperature, sleep deprivation and a host of metabolic variables (for example: blood sugar, blood oxygen level, blood minerals, hormones).

There are a number of frequently-overlooked habits which can have a bearing upon seizure risk.

  • Caffeine (found in coffee, tea, over-the-counter 'stay-awake' pills and many carbonated beverages) lowers seizure threshold. This doesn't mean that all persons with or at risk for seizures should abstain completely from anything with caffeine in it. It just means that moderation is probably wise here, especially if prevention of recurrent seizure is proving difficult.
  • Alcohol makes it easier to have a seizure. It does so both as its level rises in the blood stream and as it later falls. It also tends to interact with just about every drug used to treat or prevent epilepsy. Because of its complex effects upon metabolism, body water and mineral balance, sugar metabolism and even sleep, alcohol use should probably be avoided in anyone who has had or is at special risk of seizure.
  • Sleep-deprivation (as in changing from day-shift to night-shift work, or staying up all night to work on a term paper, etc.) probably does much to lower seizure threshold.
  • Combinations of the above are, more likely than not, additive in there effects.

"What are some good sources of additional information regarding seizures and epilepsy?"

  • Your friendly neighborhood physician/neurologist.
  • The Epilepsy Foundation of America (Telephone: 1-800-332-1000) - a trove of educational resources, including bibliographic lists, videotapes, brochures and pamphlets.
  • Engel, J. Seizures and Epilepsy. Philadelphia: FA Davis, 1989.
  • Menkes, JH and Sankar, R: Paroxysmal Disorders. In Textbook of Child Neurology, 5th edition. Baltimore: Williams and Wilkins, 1995.

For lengthier or more reflective comments, feel free to write me at:

Northeast Rehabilitation Hospital
70 Butler Street
Salem, NH 03079

Disclaimer: The information herein is presented without warranty regarding its accuracy, completeness, timeliness or correctness for a particular purpose and is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader is advised to always seek the advice of their physician prior to changing any treatment or to receive answers to questions regarding a specific medical condition.

Posted on BrainLine July 25, 2008

Thanks to Carl Billian, MD, Greg Lipshutz, MD and J. Prochilo for their critical reviews of this work and to N. Druke for kindly helping with illustrations.

Copyright © James Whitlock, MD

From the Northeast Rehabilitation Health Network. Copyright © James Whitlock, MD. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.

From the Northeast Rehabilitation Health Network. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.

Comments (59)

I had my first seizure at 3 months old. I was put on phenobarbitol(liquid) for 5 months until i was hospitalized. The doctor put me on phenobarbitol pills and i didnt have another seizure until i turned 4. I went to bermuda where it is very hot and i didnt have any seizures . The doctor decided to ween me off the medicine. A week after i had my final dose i had a seizure and was hospitalized. Then when i was 8 i had another seizure and had to be hospitalized again after not having any seizures for 4 years. As i got older the seizures would only come whenever it was time to ween me off the medicine. Now im 21 and i have been seizure free for 3years now. I dont know what the doctor has planned for me but i hope that it will stop me from having seizures.

Tramadol gave me a seizure while I was driving and hit a light pole and fractured my spine and got a pretty bad concussion. That stuff is crap and I hope they end up with a class action lawsuit. I have read about so many seizures because of them.
I gave birth to my daughter a few days ago and I was told that she was having seizures due to oxygen deprivation Is there anyone out there that has experienced this before and could shed some light on what's happening Thank you
Try marijuana
I have found lack of sleep to be a trigger for petit mal seizures. However, weirdly also when I am asked for directions to a place

I have had grand mal seizures since I was seven. Since then, I was put on medication to prevent them, and have had to change medications over time, from Tegretol to Apo-Divalproex. I also have absence seizures. In 2015, i had been taken off my medication in a time of four weeks and had 2 more grand mal seizures, which were 4 hours apart. I am now 17 almost 18, and I was wondering if I could ever come off the meds and not have any issues, or what my chances are of not having seizures if I do come off the meds for good. My specialist thinks I might need the meds for the rest of my life, but I just wanted to get another opinion. Thanks for the help in advance!

My father has just had one today. It's been 12 hours and he still can't speak. He's very unresponsive and in another world... he's in the hospital but what does this mean?

My daughter had seizures since a baby...the doctors believe she had a stroke in the womb and she had pretty bad seizures for 4 years then they stopped and after a couple of years she was weaned off the meds. My daughter in now 13 and although her consultant said she could still have seizures during times of stress, when hitting puberty etc, she has been clear so far. My question is when I'm filling out school forms, dancing forms etc or when she is having a sleepover with new people I let them know she has epilepsy but is extremely unlikely to daughter hates this ..should I stop or do I err on the side of cautiousness? Tia

I had a seizure on December 16 while I was sleeping. I have no warning when I am going to have one. I awoke with a sore back and a black eye, I must of punched myself repeatedly because the black eye was severe. This is the first time I have injured myself like this

I haven't had a seizure since I was 10 but I had one episode when I was 20. Being that I haven't had a complete seizure in a while does it mean that they're gone?

Hello everyone!

Since the age of 8 i have had seizures and now I am 22 years old. My last seizure was at the age of 14 and slowly over the years i have been lucky enough to lower my medication dosage overtime because of being free of them. I played football in highschool, i was an athlete but school has always been my largest challenge, and i do believe the medication conflicted with my schooling and more. However, now i am at a extremely low dose of 50 mg zonegran and have taking this dosage for 3 years (Doctor says placebo dosage). My neurologist told me i can get off my medication at anytime when i'm ready, but i still have a deep fear of what could and can happen once i'm completely free from the meds. I do believe i have grown out of this terrifying problem but i still have a deep fear of having another seizure. My doctor said my chances of having another  seizer in my lifetime is 10-15%. At this time i believe i must take a leap of faith and move on with my life and see where it takes me. For everyone else,  just know regardless the circumstance of the health issue you suffer, you have a large amount of people who support and back you on this exact issue. So keep pushing, do not let seizures get in the way of what you are trying to pursue in life because we can and will achieve. Much love!

- Dean

My son is 12 and has been diagnosed with a rare form absence status epilepsy. His seizures show no symptoms until the seizure has lasted for hours! The first time he was misdiagnosed was May 28. He played 2 baseball games, hitting, stealing bases and catching fly balls even. The only warning we had was he started acting only tired at first then gradually he started acting confused and from there for 24 hours he didn't know what year it was, where he went to school, or even what grade he was in etc. his motors skills were perfect and he talked to everyone normal the entire time, he just couldn't answer certain questions. The hospital kept him overnight and gave him fluids and in 24 hours he slowly started remembering and they said he was good and sent us home. We know now that he was having a constant seizure the ENTIRE TIME of his confusion! Almost 3 months later he begins having the same symptoms when I woke him up for his 2nd day of school. we are sent for an EEG, which revealed at 10 am he was actually having what the neurologist referred to as the worst EEG he had seen) we then were sent to a different children's hospital where they observed him until 8:00pm, all this time my son passes every test, he is talking and his motor skills are completely normal! They finally begin his EEG around 9:00pm. It reveals he is still in seizure! They are blown away. Say they have never seen an absence case like his and they quickly gave him a big dose of adavan which immediately stops the seizure and he is able to regain his memory immediately. Does anyone have a child who has these same symptoms? I need advice and some direction and I can't find any info about someone having his same symptoms. His neuro doctor ordered a brain glucose test, but when we went for a follow up last week they said the test had been canceled and they had no idea what happened? When I asked if they were going to draw his blood and re do the test, they said that his medicine was controlling the seizures so far so they didn't feel the need to do the test! WHAT?! My concern is what if it is a glucose deficiency? Why on earth would they not check? Especially when they say they have never treated a case like my sons! I'm lost and trying to figure out if we need a second opinion and if so where?

Girl with the fiancé:

I'm a 24 year old male, and just last Friday I had a seizure. I had been taking tramadol for a few weeks (self-prescribed), and yes, overdosing. I had taken 2 on Monday, 2 on Wednesday, 5 on Thursday and 4 on Friday. Early morning I had a seizure and spent the weekend at the hospital. I don't think you should be too worried about your fiancé. The doctors told me the seizure had been cause solely by the tramadol, and found nothing in my brain that indicated it may happen again (unless I go back on the tramadol). I was given no special diet or care. They gave me some medicine for my anxiety (which was the reason why I took tramadol....stupid, I know), and some medicine to prevent seizures, just in case. As of today, I'm still feeling very tired and I'm having a little trouble concentrating, but they tell me it's normal since I had the brain equivalent of my computer rebooting. My point is: your fiancé should be fine in a few days, especially if he knows he's got your support. Just make sure he understands that tramadol is not supposed to be taken on a as-needed-basis. Good luck!

thank you for this detailed information. my wife recently had a seizure for the first time & this information is surely helpful. thanks

That medicine can make people have them

Hello everyone, I just need a little advice and support.... today my fiancee and I went to Lagoon, a theme park for those who may not know and swam a lot. It was a very hot day, like VERY and after a few hours we decided to take a break and head home for a minute for food and such. Whilst there, he told me he wasn't feeling well and then had a seizure. It was his first ever in his life. He bit his tongue hard and everything. He doesn't have epilepsy, we know that so far, and at the hospital he was given a gorgeous clean bill of health after blood work, CT Scans, the works. No diabetes, no nothing. Previous to all of this he had taken his prescription pain meds, tramadol, for his neuropathy in his legs. He had taken 14. I was unaware of the amount until the ambulance came and was told that it can induce seizures. My concern is how to take care of him now that we're home... I have never dealt with anyone who had a seizure and I'm unsure how to go about home care. Like sleeping, how do I go to sleep when I'm afraid of him having one in his sleep or stopping breathing? Is that a possibility? And are there certain foods he should eat for recovery? What's my best course of action to ensure he has a speedy and healthy recovery, and to ensure he doesn't have another one?? Hes fully himself again, conscious and joking but super exhausted. Its 12am and hes sleeping but I'm really nervous and scared and having a hard time sleeping because of it because I love him so so much.... any advice would be GREATLY appreciated, thank you....

I've been having grand-mal seizures for past 10 years. I'm 36 now..Yesterday I had one that lasted 4 hours and then sleep all day ..all a daze. No one in family ever had them. I take Keppra and it helps mostly. I get aura's sometimes with nausea others times with a deja vu... Then I become dizzy numb and either passout or go into blank stare into no where. It's scary, and I can't remember crap after that! I'm losing long term memory as time passes and I have more seizures. I feel I've lost my life, I can't remember it. That's what really scares me. Doctors don't know why. I've had seizures standing and slammed face on work desk. Bite tongue horribly and face swollen beyond help. My co workers aware of my health, they helped and got me ER right away. It's important to make them aware. I've had seizures while driving alone and thank God he guided car to safety.. only bruised. When I awoke I was only concerned if I hurt anyone. Thank God one. Keep away from alcohol, I found it gives seizures when on meds. I have a metal heart valve too and on blood thinners and that complication is unbelievable. Just keep a positive attitude it helps.. I've made it due to the will to live. I have other ailments that I work through with help from a supportive family.

Well written. I have shared this with my wife, family and co-workers because they need to know what to do, and what not to do if I have a seizure.   I had my first grand mal seizure at age 16, then eight more over 9 years.  I was diagnosed with generalized idiopathic epilepsy.    Seizures seemed to be triggered by drowsiness.  I settled into the habit of taking Dilantin without fail and went 35 years without a seizure.   I climbed mountains, traveled with abandon, swam in oceans, rivers and and pools, skied, snowboarded, wake-boarded, raced bicycles, married, had children, and have a fairly stressful career though I pretty much just live life moderately and got plenty of sleep.    It's nice what the medication allows you to do.  Two weeks ago, I came in from the garden mid-afternoon with a plan to drive alone by car and boat for the afternoon when I went down for the first of of double-header, two tonic-clonic seizures within a couple hours on the same day.  The medication level was below the therapeutic level for some reason.  I went down hard, turned very blue with a long period of confusion after. The second seizure occurred on a narrow boat dock as I was on my way to the hospital by private boat.   I didn't have a personal floatation device on, and fortunately fell onto the dock and not into the water.  Two weeks later, my ribs are still sore and my tongue is raw and painful. I have few side effects of Dilantin and it is convenient to take once daily.  I just need to make sure I 'm taking the right amount.  I plan to have my Dilantin level checked every six months.  I have started my new streak of days (years) without a seizure because the best way to not hurt after a seizure is to not have seizure at all! 

I had my 1st seizure at work on April 5th 2016. I was on a conference call, got up to go to the door and that's the last thing I remember. those on the conference call heard some grunts/noises, so they called my boss to come check on me. She found me pale and sweaty. I remember none of this. they called 911, ambulance came, then I had a "witnessed" seizure. they did a MRI, all clear, CT scans, and some blood work, all clear. Then again on April 23rd, 2016 I had 3 more seizures that night. I remember nothing. meds have been making me dizzy and or sleepy. head has sharp pains occasionally. I got EEG next week. should I ease of meds? So after seizures I was straight out of it for approx 12 hours and was a major fall hazard from what I heard I'm at on facebook or email. Age 36, brother and dad had epilepsy but grew out of it. I'm working with neuro, i got a bad feeling it's going to be a goose hunt. this no driving is getting old quick. I'm in military, but may not be much longer.

Theres different types of epilepsy as for me i have generalized epilepsy also become unconscious takes me a while to wake up from a seizure my body aches and and i cry i dont remember anything till after a while of being awake but as for me im 21 and i have the mind of a 5 as doctors have said and that the age it works at so i know that that is normal.

My girlfriend started to have seizures about two years ago. She is 26 now. She has gone through a couple of tests but was never diagnosed with epilepsy. After her seizures, she goes unconscious for about 10-30 minutes, sometimes longer but my question right now, is it normal for the person to come out of the seizure and being a different age mentally? I know she's 26, but at that time she may think she's 12 years old and begins to ask questions of who I am and where is her family. sometimes, she may have up to 5 seizures and each time we a different age. Is this something that happens normally?

My sister is having seizures on a weekly basis they seem to be getting more frequent. She finds it hard to speak after and feels very unwell. She is brain damaged and doesn't understand what is happening. If the seizures are becoming more regular does this mean it's very dangerous?

Started having seizures about 4-5 years ago they only happen occasionally but all doctor wants to do is keep upping doses. this is aggravating me what should I do and work harasses me because of this

I have two seizures in the past 9 months in the medicine that they have put me on makes me feel sleepy tired and takes a lot out of me should I be working?

I am 54 and after intense morning of exercise i experience 4 petit mal seizures over about an hour. Once i hydrated there were no more recurrences. After long day in hospital with all the tests no answers. Can i go on living normal life?

My mom just had her first seizure 3 days ago and know she acts very weird. She claims she can see people and she look into space and its scary. Also her eyes are getting weaker because she said that she cant see very well. Does anyone know if she will get better?

I started having seizures when I was seven and my condition was ignored until I was almost nine, I was only diagnosed a little over a year ago and I just got working mediction a few months ago. Before it all started, I was an honor roll student with occasional straight A-pluses, and now I have to work to my breaking point just to pass a class. I continuously get splitting headaches, have minor convulsions, or I find myself forgetting simple tasks constantly. Does anyone know if this is an effect of medication, or maybe seizures and can this be treated? Would this be a cause for my frequent panic attacks, too?

My seizures started 3 years ago when i was 37 years old. They started happening 2 to 3 times a month. I have convulsions and i dont have any feeling before. I have split my skull open many times. I was started on depakote then, keppra was added now i take 3 different ones a day. They cant find it on an EEG or AEEG or im up to 4 to 7 a month. I cant work anymore and thats hard enough on a physically fit 39 year old man. I need sum help

I'm 18, last time I had a seizure was a little over a decade ago, I had 4 all Grand Mal, caused by brain trauma from a fall when I was very little. Until about 3 weeks ago, I had my first seizure. Then just this past Friday I had another one. I was on Lamictal for a very long time, and did not have ANY seizures during the time I was on it. However, when my doctor tried to wean me off of Lamictal, I was leaving the hospital and had another seizure, again this was when I was very little. I haven't taken Lamictal for years. And have been Seizure free! But suddenly I have had two in less than a month. I haven't taken Lamictal since I was in Elementary school. And suddenly they have come back? I have odd feelings of dejavu, and the dejavu feeling makes me feel nauseous. I've had that feeling since I was little, but not until after my seizures. Is this a Seizure Aura?

I've been having seizures for ten years and the first neurologist said I had pseudoseizurez then the second one labeled me with partial Epilepsy tonic clonic. My question is now I realize when I have a seizure I can't breathe, it feels like my tongue is swollen and blocking my airway!? So how can I get help?

I was 3 years old when I got a seizure I got them when I was sleeping or laying down and It stopped when I was 8 years old and ever since then I been getting headaches . Now I'm 21 years old and I still got head aches and I'm scared it might come back in the future. What do I do? If they come back.

I have not had a seizure in three yrs. Since I have a clip put on a brain anerusym, they discovered. Then on Saturday pass, sometime before day I had one. The only thing that I can think of that I did was strain my eye out Of the usual. I was placed back on Dilantin the oldest seizure med there is. But the emergency room Dr. said, that they are moving to Keppra. Which I've taken before and that's something that's safe for your baby. Ask her physician. My tongue hurried, so bad I put some Oregel and Liquid benadryl and it ease the pain.

My daughter is nine got diagnosed with epilepsy when she was four. She has been taking the wrong meds for five years. Found her a new doctor today and he got her on the right meds. my concern is that all the meds she has been on for five years have hurt her body. Does anyone know anything about this. Would appreciate the input

How long after a major seizure should the person not be left alone?

How often would someone with epilepsy have an attack? Every day, once a week, once a month. ..longer?

My brother takes 1000mg of Depakote daily for epilepsy. He hasn't had a seizure in a very long time up until a month ago. He has now had 4 and has had to go to the er. And ideas?

I had a grand mal seizure for yhe first time 3 months ago. I stopped breathing and my heart stopped. I had cpr done and that brought me back. I dont know why my heart stopped and im terrified of having another one. My bloodpressure in the ambulance was 270/185 after the seizure and cardiac arrest. I want to know if this has happened to anyone else during a grand mal?

Surgery is a major step and you have to make sure that you feel comfortable with the risk to benefit ratio that your doctor should be able to talk to you about.  That said, my daughter has a major seizure disorder and I only wish that surgery was an option.  We have run out of choices and surgery won't work in her case, because the focal point of the seizures is too far within her brain.  Have the doctors given you their opinion of how likely the surgery is to be successful?  The only other advice I have to offer is to find the best clinic that you can go to.  Some of the hospitals have AMAZING success rate with these surgeries and I would want to go to the best.  If you call the social workers at the hospital you want to go to they can get you once in a lifetime use free medical tickets from some of the major airlines and many times have very inexpensive places for your caregiver to stay or you if you have to stay in the area longer.  Insurance will usually be accepted at all major hospitals, unless you have HMO.

Good luck with whatever you choose.  Know that there are people out here praying for you.

After a punch to the jaw which left me needing a 3 hour op to insert 3 metal plates and 4 screws to hold my face together again, I started having really horrible and scary 'déjàvu' feelings unlike anything I've ever had before. For years of consulting several Drs about this, and telling them my genuine worries of this meaning I was scitziphrenic as my uncle had scitzophrenia and I had no other explanation for what this could possibly be, I was handed alsorts of antidepressants and felt I was being fobbed off, until, 4 years ago on this very night, I had my first seizure while I was asleep, witnessed by my husband and terrified daughter. I knew nothing of it except for the sore tounge I was left with after almost biting right through it! The next day I was shocked when my dr told me he feared I could have epilepsy and referred me to my neurologist. He told me he had been wanting to say something when I kept telling of this 'déjàvu', but he couldn't say anything unless there was 2 things to link it! For 5 years I had been worried sick and lived with fear that I can not explain, and all the time it was epilepsy, caused by this injury to my jaw! From then on, the seizures began to spiral out of control to the point I have had to be admitted to a residential specialist centre 3 times for between 4-6 weeks at a time for assessment and the hope of getting the right combination of medication to stabilise them, to no avail, having to leave my 4 children and not being able to see them as the centre is 4 hours from where we live, has been very difficult and upsetting for them and I, and I have to be admitted again for another week before April 2015 with the view of having surgery to try and at least reduce them. I am not keen on the thought of surgery, the 'what if's' scare the living day lights out of me, also, my children are now my main carers and have had training to administer emergency medication (midazolam) to me as I have flat lined twice with the seizures coming one after the other in rapid succession with no recovery in between. I know this op could be just what is needed, but the other side of the coin, although rare, just doesn't bare thinking about. My kids do an amazing job looking after me and I am so proud of them, but I also know they constantly worry about me and I feel I am a burden to them, they are 18,17,12 and 9. Has anyone who has had surgery for their seizures, have any advice on the pros and cons or how you feel it helped it not? If only I had the courage to report this when it happened, wouldn't have changed the epilepsy but maybe justice would have been done, and now I think it's too late! Thanks for taking the time to read my rather long post (sorry). This is a great and clear guide, thank you for sharing as a lot of people even the families and close friends, don't know how to deal with this, it's very informative.

hi i am 29 year old, 4 years back i had a seizure, my dad witness as per him he said some shake comes out from my mouth and body was jerking, then doctor take MRI adn a cyst was found .then he give me Sodium di valporate 500mg [ plus cipralex 20mg .i was feeling fine but suddenly again i am not feeling fine as my doctr few months ago stop my medicines he thinks its useless to take medication because you have no fits now. but from last 5 months i am feeling pain in my head at different locations, and now ther is a contionous pain at right parential region where there is a cycst. kindly advise me what to do my email is

I can control mine to some degree, because they only happen on one side of my body and I'm awake for them most of the time.. the aura part is very true for me, and I get the feeling that I can delay it by feeling to myself, 'give me more time to get someplace safe' but eventually the event takes over.

My friend is 20 years old and she have recurrent seizure attack

full unconsious that lasts nearly one hour with bitting lips and muscle rigidity and body shivering(after recovery).....

she was previously diagnosed with Familial Mediterranean fever 

and now she is on trt with colchicine 3 dose daily still some times got seizure attack (usually once a month)>>>

plz what do u think the cause and what is the type of seizure ? and the most imp is related to the familial medtierenian fever?


I'm sorry but I don't believe someone can control their seizures and if your son can then they are likely pseudoseizures. Do not guilt him by giving him responsibility for true seizure activity, that is wrong.

Our son has been diagnosed with epilepsy 2 years ago. We didnt know he had it til we were driving to school one day and he had a grand mal. Seizures are scary to witness, especially when you dont know the person has epilepsy. We chose not to go the medication route and chose chiropractic care. That along with adequate sleep, bananas (potassium), a healthy diet, lots of water and a cut back on tv and video games...he does not have grand mals. However, when hes not disciplined to do all this...he gets grand mals in his sleep. He also says when he is awake if he focuses he can stop the seizures. He says he feels a certain way and usually will have a partial. When this happens he concentrates to not have a grand mal and it has worked. I know as a mom it is scary to witness...even as a sibling..or really anyone. However, with much knowledge from the neurologist it helpd me to understand the condition better.He has had about 5 grand mals over the course of the last 2 years with this treatment...most in his sleep at the same time in the morning. Mainly because he gets lax on drinking enough water or sleep, etv..he can control it. So when hes disciplined grand mals dont happen. Because he has thwm in his sleep, he may have had more that we dont know about, but with the discipline and knowledge it helps us to ensure he doeant have more. Its when hes not that they show up. We have not made him feel like he us any different than anyone else. That its just a word not a disease to describe what he has. He has been able to help his school understand it and be prepared for it for him and others to come. No one should be embarrassed about somehing they were born with and cant control. Live life to the fullest. Thats what we are here for, but we need to make sure we take thw steps that are necessary to ensure we do that the best we can.

My 16 year old son had a seizure that lasted over 30 sec. When he woke up he didn't know who he was or where he was. He was saying really weird  things and confused. Took him a few hours to recover. Is this normal? Took him to the hospital, he had low electrolytes.

I am not sure what caused you to have a seizure but  many things would cause me to have them.  That includes exercising/doing physical stuff, watching a movie/show with bright lights, getting mad/my emotions, being tired/not sleeping enough, and doing too much work at school and at home.

I am not epileptic and there is no family history of this. I passed out yesterday whilst I was awaiting a scan at the hospital. When i came round I couldn't move or talk. The Drs told me I had a seizure. Not sure what caused this.

I'm at age 15 and i had seizures for the past three years.  No medications helped me, they actually made my seizures even worse and caused me to have more, but finally on march 10, 2014 i had my last seizure.  This is because on  March 11, 2014 i had brain surgery and it stopped me from having seizures.  Lastly, i just want to say that no matter what happens... always be positive, be grateful for what you have in your life, and know that everything happens for a reason.  Thanks and i hope that you all get better with any issues that you have going on in your life.

I've been having seizures since I was 12 years old and now I am at age 15. I first started taking drugs which is what most people do but for me it didn't help at all.  In fact, it got my seizures to be even worse and made me have them almost every day!  Luckily, my last seizure happened on March 10, 2014 which was the day before I had brain surgery.  Going back to when I first started having seizures, my family and I thought that brain surgery was that last thing that we would do.  The truth is though, it stopped me from having seizures 100% for the rest of my life. Lastly, I just want to say that I have learned a lot from going through this myself and to me.... just be grateful for what you have in your life, always be positive, and know that everything happens for a reason.  Thanks and I hope that you all get better with any issues that you are having.

A person said they seen someone having a seizure and their eyes turned black and body swelled. I never seen or heard this before.


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