Recognize a Seizure
Edited by VisiHow, Eng, Inukshuk, Train Wreck
There are many different types of seizures, and the signs that a seizure is occurring can differ based on the type of seizure the victim is experiencing. A seizure affects brain activity and can be categorized as either focal (partial) or generalized, depending on from where the abnormal brain activity originates. This article will review possible symptoms of a seizure as well as when a person experiencing a seizure should visit a doctor.
Symptoms of a Seizure
Symptoms can be difficult to recognize and may depend on the age of the person experiencing them. Just because a person does experience some of the symptoms listed below does not necessarily mean that a seizure has occurred; what is important, though, is to look for patterns of altered or abnormal behavior. Someone who has epilepsy may experience the same type of seizure with the same symptoms.
Symptoms in adults include
- temporary confusion or staring spells;
- involuntary jerking movements of the arms or legs;
- falling unconscious.
Symptoms in teenagers can include
- sudden and abnormal panic, fear, or anger;
- muscle jerking in the body's extremities;
- statements that something looks, smells, sounds or feels strange;
- memory loss, a dazed look, or non-responsiveness;
- blank staring, chewing movements of the mouth, mumbling, or seemingly random movement
Symptoms in children can include
- repetitive, abnormal movements;
- a dazed look, non-responsiveness, or a blackout;
- a sudden and unexplainable fall;
- head nodding or rapid blinking;
- statements that something looks, smells, sounds, or feels strange;
- abnormal drowsiness or irritability upon waking;
- sudden stomach pain followed by confusion and drowsiness.
Symptoms in infants can include
- sudden grabbing motions with the arms while the infant is lying on his or her back;
- "Jackknife"-type movements or spasms while the infant is sitting or lying down.
Again, the presence of these symptoms does not mean that a seizure has definitely occurred. If someone is experiencing these symptoms for the first time or if these symptoms become a pattern of behavior, then this person may need to be evaluated by a doctor.
When You Should Definitely Visit a Doctor
Aside from first-time experiences and patterned and abnormal behaviors, a doctor should be visited in the following cases:
- the seizure lasts longer than five minutes;
- the person is still not breathing or is still unconscious when the seizure ends;
- the first seizure is immediately followed by a second seizure;
- the seizure is accompanied by a high fever;
- the person experiencing the seizure is also suffering from heat exhaustion;
- the person experiencing the seizure is pregnant or diabetic;
- the person injures themselves while experiencing a seizure.
For information on how to react when you notice a seizure is taking place, please view our article on Treat a Seizure.