Are you ready to learn some big words and get
really confused smarter? I told you that seizures can manifest themselves in many ways. What they look like and where on the brain they start defines them more specifically. This is important because if you think you know what a seizure looks like, you may only be familiar with one kind of seizure. Let’s break down what may happen during a seizure.
Sometimes people with Epilepsy know that a seizure is coming on BEFORE it happens. They may see an aura, smell something specific, or have a certain feeling in their stomach.* see comment below for clarification regarding auras.
What happens DURING a seizure depends on the kind of seizure it is and where it’s happening in the brain. These are just a few examples:
The tonic-clonc seizure is the one with which most people are familiar. These typically come on abruptly. A person loses consciousness and their body may stiffen, fall to the ground, jerk rhythmically, and turn blue.
An absence seizure may be harder to detect as it mostly appears as a person just staring into space. Some small repetitive movements such as lip smacking, eye blinking, or finger rubbing may also occur.
Aidan has myoclonic seizures which means his head, neck, and arms all jerk forward but it only lasts for a few seconds.
Postictal is a fancy word that refers to the time AFTER a seizure. After a tonic-clonic seizure it typically takes someone a few minutes to regain consciousness. They may be confused, disoriented, tired, sore, or have jumbled speech. After an absence or myoclonic seizure, people return quickly to their baseline sometimes with no memory of the event. Aidan actually has a postictal smile that is definitely related to his seizures as opposed to what’s happening in life around him.
There are Epilepsy Syndromes which more specifically indicate the age of onset, family history, seizure types, and other related neurological symptoms. Sometimes they are benign, as in mild, infrequent and treatable. Catastrophic Epilepsy Syndromes refer to seizures that are frequent and difficult to control. Because of these circumstances, a person can have long term developmental and cognitive issues. Some examples of catastrophic Epilepsy include West Syndrome, Infantile Spasms, and Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome.
I know this is confusing but that’s exactly the point – Epilepsy can present itself in many ways, and can be anything from manageable to life-threatening.
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