Recurrent seizures are the main symptom of epilepsy. The characteristics of the seizures will vary and depend on the part of the brain that was first interrupted and how far the disorder occurred. Based on the disorder of the brain, the seizure type of epilepsy is divided into two, namely partial and general.
In partial or focal seizures, the brain is only partially disturbed. These partial seizures are subdivided into two categories: simple partial seizures (without loss of consciousness) and complex partial seizures.
Simple partial seizures are characterized by no loss of awareness of the patient when seizures occur. Symptoms can be a jolting limb, or a tingling sensation, dizziness, and flashes of light.
The part of the body that has a seizure depends on which part of the brain is impaired. For example, if epilepsy interferes with the function of the brain that regulates the movement of the hands or feet, then the two members of the body will experience seizures. In addition, partial seizures can also make the patient change emotionally, such as feeling excited or scared suddenly.
Occasionally, focal seizures affect the patient’s consciousness so that he or she looks confused or semi-conscious for a while. This is called a complex partial seizure. Other complex partial seizures are empty sight, swallowing, chewing, or rubbing the hands.
In general or generalized seizures, symptoms occur throughout the body and are caused by disorders that affect the entire brain. The following are symptoms that can occur when a person is stricken with a generalized seizure:
- Eyes that open when seizures.
- Tonic seizures. The body becomes stiff for a few seconds. This can be followed by rhythmic movements on the arms and legs or not at all. The muscles in the body especially the arms, legs, and back twitch.
- Atypical spasm. The muscles of the body suddenly become relaxed so that the patient falls uncontrollably.
- Clonic seizures. A rhythmic jerking movement that usually attacks the muscles of the neck, face and arms.
- People with epilepsy sometimes make voices or shout when experiencing convulsions.
- Difficulty breathing for a while so the body looks pale or even blue.
- In some cases, complete seizures make the patient completely unconscious.
- Once conscious, the patient looks confused for several minutes or hours.
There is a type of epilepsy commonly experienced by children, known by the name of absence epilepsy or petit mal. Although this condition is not dangerous, but the concentration and academic achievement of children can be disrupted. The characteristics of this epilepsy are loss of consciousness for a few seconds, winking or gesturing lips, and blank look. Children who experience this seizure will not realize or remember what happened when they were seizures.