Partial Seizure Symptoms

Epilepsy Information 2012

Partial Seizure Symptoms

Partial seizures are one of the two types of seizures experienced by people with epilepsy. The other type of seizure is a generalized seizure. The two categorizations are made based on brain activity and behavior. Partial seizures, also called focal or local seizures, are further divided into simple partial seizures, complex partial seizures and partial seizures with secondary generalization. The partial seizure symptoms will depend on the specific type of partial seizure being experienced.

Simple partial seizures are further subdivided into 4 types depending on the type of partial seizure symptoms. The 4 types are sensory seizures, motor seizures, autonomic seizures and psychic or psychological seizures.

The sensory partial seizure symptoms will include strange or unusual feelings or sensations such as smells, tastes or sounds that are not there. Some may experience numbness or sharp sensations like pins and needles. Sensory seizures may cause pain in some instances and hallucinations in others.

Motor seizures result in changes in muscle activity such as muscle rigidity, spasms, jerking, automatic hand movements and head turning. Autonomic seizures affect the part of the brain that controls body organs such as the bladder, heart, stomach and intestines. Therefore autonomic partial seizure symptoms include odd sensations in the stomach (which is the most common symptom in temporal lobe epilepsy), loss of bladder control, diarrhea and heart palpitations.

Psychic seizures affect a person’s feelings, sense of experience and memory. Therefore, the symptoms will include garbled speech, trouble with comprehension or remembering words. They may also experience emotions such as fear and depression, or experience déjà vu or jamais vu.

A major difference between simple partial seizures and the other types of partial seizures is that during simple partial seizures, an individual will typically not lose consciousness. The person will remain awake, alert and will usually remember what happened during the seizure. Therefore, complex partial seizure symptoms will include loss of awareness or consciousness. The other symptoms will be similar to the ones experienced in simple partial seizures, the only difference being that the individual will not remember the symptoms he experienced during the seizure.

Partial seizures with secondary generalizations are experienced when the symptoms start when consciousness is preserved and then later loss of consciousness and convulsions occur. At this point, the seizure is referred to as a grand mal seizure also known as a generalized tonic clonic seizure.

Partial seizure symptoms generally start suddenly but will last for a short period of time, commonly less than 2 minutes. Even though the seizure may not last long, a person may be confused and disoriented for several minutes later. It is very important to let the seizure run its course and not attempt to stop them. If a seizure lasts long, it is important to seek medical advice.