Dr. Edward Bertram: Hi! I'm Dr. Edward Bertram from the International League Against Epilepsy. I like to talk to you about the symptoms of epilepsy. There are many types of seizures, but the most well known are Grand Mal and Petit Mal. In a Grand Mal seizure or convulsive seizure, the person becomes very rigid with severe muscle stiffening and jerking may last several minutes. Afterwards the person is limp, and often can't respond. Over the minutes the patient gradually becomes responsive and awakens, although many people talk about feeling washed out for many hours after such seizures. The second type of epileptic seizure that most people think about is the Petit Mal, also known as the Absence Seizure, and these seizures are most often seen in children. A person stops doing whatever it is that he was doing, stares or sometimes blinks the eyes many times, before immediately returning to whatever it was that he was doing, completely unaware that there was any interruption. The seizures usually last five to ten seconds, it can be shorter or much longer, and they occur 40 times a day or more.
All these of the seizure types that most people think of, they are really only a small part of all seizure types that people experience. Some of the seizures that people experience are blank stares, chewing, funny sensations in one part of the body, sudden unexplained giggling, or sudden unexplained jerks to cause a cup to fly out of their hand, or make the person fall to the ground without losing consciousness.
Reality is that almost any symptom can be a seizure. Ultimately there are four things that are the true character of perfect seizures. One, they are spontaneous and usually appear out of the blue without warning. Second, they keep happening. Third, the symptoms are the same each time. And fourth, the seizures stop usually after a number of seconds or minutes. Because some seizures are very unusual, it is these four features that truly characterize seizures. If you've had symptoms that have these four features, talk to your doctor about epilepsy.