This article on Epainassist.com has been reviewed by a medical professional, as well as checked for facts, to assure the readers the best possible accuracy.

We follow a strict editorial policy and we have a zero-tolerance policy regarding any level of plagiarism. Our articles are resourced from reputable online pages. This article may contains scientific references. The numbers in the parentheses (1, 2, 3) are clickable links to peer-reviewed scientific papers.

The feedback link “Was this Article Helpful” on this page can be used to report content that is not accurate, up-to-date or questionable in any manner.

This article does not provide medical advice.


What are Gelastic Seizures: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, Diagnosis

What are Gelastic Seizures?

Gelastic seizures are of one such type, characterized by excessive bouts of laughter and giggling. The person has no control over such bouts and thus such emotions are typically forced at the time of the seizure. It is to be remembered that people with such type of seizures are usually conscious and aware of their surroundings during the episode of seizure.

What are Gelastic Seizures?

What are the Causes of Gelastic Seizures?

The main cause of gelastic seizures is due to the abnormal functioning of hypothalamus located at the base of the brain. Such type of seizure is a form of focal seizure arising from the location of the hypothalamus. The abnormal functioning may be due to-

  • Direct injury occurred in the hypothalamus or its surrounding area.
  • Formation of a tumor around the hypothalamus. It should be noted that such tumors can be benign or even cancerous. Specific diagnosis is required for its proper treatment.

Who is Likely To Have Gelastic Seizures?

Gelastic seizures are more common in children compared to adults. It is also seen that the boys are at higher risk of having such type of focal seizures that girls. It may happen so that such seizures start as the child tries to fall asleep. It is seen that children are awakened from sleep due to an episode of gelastic seizure. It should be noted that such seizures do not really make the patients happy. Instead, laughter is actually forced upon them due to abnormal functioning of the hypothalamus. Thus, such seizures essentially affect the well-being of patients making them anxious.

What Are The Common Symptoms Of Gelastic Seizures?

The symptoms of gelastic seizures may be different for different patients. Such seizures are known to last for a period of 10-20 seconds of uncontrollable laughter. Some of the common symptoms include-

  • Such seizures are often reported to start with what is called the aura. The patient may look surprised or become anxious or panic-stricken suddenly. Since most of the patients are children, they cannot really explain what is happening to them.
  • The patient may complain of unpleasant feeling or pain in the stomach or headache.
  • Symptoms common in focal seizures may be present. Such include lip smacking, mumbling or swallowing.
  • The patient is seen to start laughing and grunting which looks quite forced and unusual. Such bouts of laughter may be pretty inappropriate of the time.
  • Infants may grunt and squirm unusually at the time of such seizures.
  • Sometimes, children having such seizures may look for comfort from a caregiver for no reason in particular.
  • Some children are seen to run to a safer place which makes them feel comfortable.
  • It should be noted that gelastic seizures may occur many times in a day.

How Can Gelastic Seizures Be Diagnosed?

Once the patient with gelastic seizures comes with the description of the episodes so experienced, the doctor may go for detailed diagnosis. The patient may be asked to go for an electroencephalogram (EEG). The EEG shows the abnormalities present in the brain. A Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) may be done to detect the presence of tumours in the area around hypothalamus. Other forms of brain scans like CT-scan may also be recommended for the process of detailed diagnosis.

How are Gelastic Seizures Treated?

The treatment of gelastic seizures depends on the severity of the symptoms and the root cause of such seizures. Few treatment methods include-

  • Anti-seizure medicines which are used to treat focal seizures may be prescribed.
  • In case of a tumor, radiotherapy may be given to get rid of tumors.
  • In case, the doctor thinks it right, surgery may be recommended for removal of tumors.


  1. Epilepsy Foundation – Gelastic Seizures
  2. Cleveland Clinic – Gelastic Seizures
  3. National Organization for Rare Disorders – Gelastic Seizures
  4. American Epilepsy Society – Gelastic Seizures
  5. MedLink Neurology – Hypothalamic Hamartoma

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

Recent Posts

Related Posts