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.

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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.

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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.

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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.
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For information on how to react when you notice a seizure is taking place, please view our article on Treat a Seizure.


1. Epilepsy.

2. Identifying Seizures in Children.

3. Symptoms and Causes of Epilepsy.

4. Epilepsy: Infantile Spams

See our other tutorials on health: Give First Aid, Get Help with a Drinking Problem, and Setup Emergency Medical ID on an iPhone 6s Plus.

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Article Info

Categories : Safety | Mental Health

Recent edits by: Inukshuk, Eng, VisiHow

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