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Seizure Symptoms

Seizures are caused by abnormal patterns of electrical activity in the brain. There are many types of seizures, since the irregular activity can affect any part of the brain. The type of seizure determines the symptoms. For example, focal seizures affect only part of the brain and have very specific symptoms, while generalized seizures affect both brain hemispheres and are recognized by convulsions and complete loss of consciousness.

If you are showing seizure symptoms, you can find care at Barnes-Jewish Hospital at our Comprehensive Epilepsy Center. Here, our epileptologists and other seizure specialists work quickly to determine the type of seizure.

When to Find Emergency Care for Seizures

Call 9-1-1 or seek emergency care in these situations:

  • This is the person’s first seizure.
  • The seizure lasts for more than five minutes.
  • The person is experiencing serious symptoms, such as trouble breathing.
  • The person is unconscious or injured.
  • Multiple seizures happen in a short time span.

Common Signs of a Seizure

During a seizure, you may notice symptoms that affect different parts of your body. These symptoms may include:

  • Spasms or shaking
  • Numbness or tingling
  • Sudden vision loss/disturbance
  • Inability to speak
  • Confusion
  • Staring and unresponsiveness
  • Loss of consciousness

Perceptual Symptoms of Seizures

Your seizures symptoms may also include changes in your perceptions and sensations, such as:

  • Difficulty with memory
  • Loss of vision or changes in vision
  • Confusion or loss of consciousness, even if just for a second
  • Changes in mood, personality or behavior
  • Changes in hearing, taste or smell
  • Hallucinations

Next Steps After a Seizure

After a seizure, our neurology experts may recommend admission to our epilepsy monitoring unit (EMU). Here, we use video EEG and other advanced imaging to further diagnose the type of seizure or epilepsy, then determine your treatment. The most common treatment for seizures is medication, but surgery could also be an option.

Rest assured that our neurology team collaboratively considers your unique case and weighs the options before recommending surgery. We see hundreds of seizure and epilepsy patients every year, and are highly experienced in addressing seizures. The goal of our Comprehensive Epilepsy Center is to help you gain control over seizures and epilepsy.

To make an appointment with a Washington University neurologist at Barnes-Jewish Hospital, call 855.925.0631.

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