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What Is A Generalized Seizure?

What Is A Generalized Seizure?

A generalized seizure is capable of affecting both hemispheres of the brain. Due to this, the individual experiences loss of consciousness, jerks, flow of fluid from the mouth, deafness, and loss of vision either for a few seconds for an extended period.

Generalized Seizure Categories

  1. Generalized Tonic-Clonic Seizures

    Generalized Tonic-Clonic Seizures or also known as the grand mal seizures are the commonly occurring attacks and the best known in the generalized seizure. The attack begins with stiffening of the limbs and proceeds with jerking moments of both the limbs and the face. The phase during which the limbs become stiff is the tonic phase while the jerking movement period is the clonic phase.

    During the tonic phase of generalized seizure, it is difficult for the individual to breathe correctly. It additionally produces cyanosis of the face, lips, and nail beds. Breathing returns to normalcy during the clonic phase of generalized seizure, but the individual will experience irregular breathing pattern. The clonic period lasts for about a minute. There is a probability that certain people will experience only the tonic phase, where just the stiffening of the muscular region takes place. On the other hand, a few people exhibit only the cloning phase or the jerking movements. Apart from this, many cases show both tonic and tonic phases.

    The patient undergoing the tonic-clonic seizure activity may or may not bite his or her tongue during the episode. Turning the person to one side will be helpful in such cases, as the fluid will flow from the mouth keeping the airway clear.

  2. Myoclonic Seizures

    In this type of generalized seizure, the individual suffers from brief and rapid contractions of the muscular structure, which of course, is throughout the body at the same time. Occasionally, the myoclonic seizures involved is only one arm or a foot. Many people think such sudden activity as a case of clumsiness. People with no history of epilepsy will show a sudden jerk of the foot during the sleep. It is their first experience. Although the requirement of first aid is essential, receiving a thorough medical evaluation is of utmost importance.

  3. Atonic Seizures

    In this type of generalized seizure, an individual experiences abrupt loss of muscle tone. Additional names of the atonic seizure attack include drop attacks, akinetic or astatic seizures. These kinds of generalized seizure produce collapse, head drops, and loss of posture. Due to their occurrence without any warning, the person will fall at once resulting in injuries to the face and head. It is preferable to use protective headgear among children who tend to show resistant towards drug therapy. Nonetheless, if the seizure is the first attack, carrying out a thorough medical evaluation will be of immense help.

  4. Absence Seizures

    Absence seizures cause loss of awareness that starts suddenly and end suddenly. The entire period lasts for a few seconds. As there is no warning for the occurrence of the seizure, it becomes difficult to assess the situation. Additionally, there are no after-effects involved in this case. Absence seizure attacks children than adults. Due to this, it becomes impossible to detect its presence. There are several cases where a child experiences more than hundred attacks on any given day. It can continue for several months before the child attends for a medical evaluation. It is entirely possible for clinicians to confuse the presence of absence seizure with that of complex partial seizures. The unfortunate mistake can cause an increase in the occurrence of absence seizures because a few drugs treated for complex partial seizures elevate the frequency and act against the complex partial seizures.


  1. “Types of Seizures” – Epilepsy Foundation. https://www.epilepsy.com/learn/types-seizures

  2. “Seizures and Epilepsy: Overview” – Cleveland Clinic. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/17907-seizures-and-epilepsy/management-and-treatment

  3. “Generalized Seizures” – Johns Hopkins Medicine. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/epilepsy/generalized-seizures

  4. “Epilepsy and Seizures: Overview” – Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/epilepsy/symptoms-causes/syc-20350093

  5. “Epileptic Seizures” – National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS). https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/All-Disorders/Epileptic-Seizures-Information-Page

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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 10, 2023

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