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Stages of Seizures: Aura, Ictus, Postictal

Seizure implies an uncontrolled and an abnormal electrical activity that takes place in the cells of a human brain. Nerve cells transmit signals from and to the human brain in any of the two ways-

  • The alteration of the concentration of salts, such as calcium, potassium and sodium within the cell
  • Releasing of chemicals i.e. neurotransmitters i.e. gamma amino butyric acid.

Changes in the concentration of salts conduct impulse from a particular end present in the nerve cell to another one. Finally, it releases a neurotransmitter responsible for carrying the impulse to the other nerve cell. These neurotransmitters either reduce or stop communication in between different cells or stimulate the process to cause excitatory neurotransmitters.

Stages of Seizures

What are the Stages of Seizures?

Seizure may take place in any of the three different stages i.e. aura state, ictus state and postictal state.

  1. Aura Stage

    Aura is the first stage/phase of seizure, which involves alterations in taste, smell, visual perception, emotional and hearing state. Doctors even call aura, as a small and a partial seizure followed by a big event.

  2. Ictus Stage

    Second stage/phase of seizure is the ictus stage, which has two major forms of seizures named generalized and partial seizures. In this case, condition of a person at the time of seizure depends on the exact place in the human brain where disruption of various neural activities takes place.

    Now, let us have a detailed understanding on the two different types of seizures take place during the ictus stage.

    1. Partial Seizures

      Partial seizures, as the name indicate in such seizures, the site of origin is the discreet or localized area i.e. in a particular hemisphere of the human brain. Partial seizures may further take place in two different forms i.e. complex and simple partial seizures.

      • Simple Partial Seizures: Simple partial seizures produce symptoms related to the area of various abnormally occurring neural activities go on in the human brain. These symptoms include sensory symptoms, motor signs, autonomic symptoms and signs i.e. involuntary activities controlled with the help of autonomic nervous systems and psychic symptoms, known as altered states of consciousness. However, you will not experience any kind of impairment in the consciousness during the problem of partial seizures.
      • Complex Partial Seizures: Impairment associated with consciousness of human brain, features of complicated partial seizures lead to the inability of a person to give response or to carry out simple commands to execute various willed movements combined with a lack of awareness about one’s surroundings and events. Other than this, you may experience automatism, which is more or less a coordinated type of involuntary motor activity, such as picking, lip smacking, chewing, patting, swallowing and similar others. Simple complex seizure starts in the same way, as a simple partial seizure.
    2. Generalized Seizures

      During the onset, patients may experience the seizure activity simultaneously in a relatively large area of the brain or in both of the hemispheres. These seizures may be of non-convulsive or convulsive. In this case, you will find two different forms of seizures i.e. tonic-clonic and myoclonic seizures.

      • Tonic-clonic Seizures: Tonic-clonic seizures involve loss of consciousness during the problem of seizure. In the tonic phase, you will experience increase in muscular tone or rigidity, while in the advanced clonic phase, a person may experience extreme jerk of his body parts. In addition, such seizures may include various autonomic symptoms.
      • Myoclonic Seizures: Myoclonic seizures involve sudden contractions of body muscles, which take place in a rapid way as compared to the one occurs in case of clonic activities and individuals may confuse it with tics. These seizures take place among individuals belonging to every age and involve epileptic syndromes.
  3. Postictal Stage

    After ictus, patients enter the postictal stage of seizure, where they experience confusion and drowsiness. Moreover, during this period, human brain recovers from the ictus it experienced.


  1. Epilepsy Foundation – Seizures and Epilepsy Basics
  2. Mayo Clinic – Seizures Overview
  3. Johns Hopkins Medicine – Seizures and Epilepsy
  4. Cleveland Clinic – Seizure Types
  5. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke – Seizures and Epilepsy: Hope Through Research

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:August 9, 2023

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