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What is a Complex Partial Seizure?

A complex partial seizure is a focal impairment caused due to focal onset epilepsy. The beginning of the seizure starts only in a specific region of the brain. In many of the cases, the temporal lobe of the brain is the starting point for the seizure. However, it may differ from one individual to another.

Although people who have epilepsy have a complex partial seizure, it can even occur in those who do not possess any medical history of epilepsy. The occurrence is common in individuals who have cerebral palsy. Due to this, it becomes difficult for the individual to have control over the movement of their limbs and different parts of the body. The timing of the seizure is short, and the person suffering from it is unaware of the situation. It is common for him/her to enter unconsciousness state for a few minutes.

What is a Complex Partial Seizure?

What is a Complex Partial Seizure?

By gaining insight into the symptoms caused by complex partial seizure will be helpful in understanding its presence. The only problem that one might face is the multiple symptoms that it can pose. The signs that an individual can recognize is easy because it can only occur during one seizure but not another. The occurrence of the complex partial seizure is only for a few minutes.

Complex partial seizure starts from the front lobe of the brain, mostly occurring in the temporal lobe area. The symptoms experienced by the individual begin suddenly, and the individual displaying the seizure do not possess the capability to understand the same. The following are the symptoms of complex partial seizures:

  1. Staring blankly
  2. Unable to respond
  3. Waking up from sleep abruptly
  4. Lip smacking
  5. Repetitive actions
  6. Enhanced emotions
  7. Carry out actions that can cause potential danger to others and themselves
  8. Behavior in an action such as riding a bicycle
  9. Be unaware of the surroundings
  10. Trying to hurt themselves
  11. Possesses confusion after the end of the complex partial seizure
  12. Unable to remember the occurrence of the complex partial seizure.

What Causes A Complex Partial Seizure?

While epilepsy is the common cause behind the occurrence of a complex partial seizure, other reasons include psychological distress, neurological conditions, anxiety, depression, extreme stress, autism, damage to brain prior to birth, and other health conditions related to the brain.

Triggering Factors

By gaining knowledge about the triggering elements, it will be possible for an individual to safeguard themselves or avoid the occurrence of the complex partial seizure. It is difficult to state the incident, as it happens without warning. It can even occur when the person is in a middle of the activity. A better way to understand the triggering factors is the change in the atmosphere, known as aura. It is during this phase that the individual undergoes a complete transformation, such as a change in senses (smell, sight, and hear). Apart from this, other factors include low blood sugar, reaction to medications, flashing lights, and high fever.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Before proceeding with the treatment for complex partial seizure, it is necessary for the neurologist to carry out the diagnosis to understand the start of the complex partial seizure. He/she will collect complete information related to the individual having the seizures, the number of episodes, and the frequency. It is also essential that the doctor knows about what the individual experienced before, during, and after every attack. The best way to diagnose is using electroencephalogram. Treatment for complex partial seizure includes the use of anti-epileptic drugs, stimulation of the vagus nerve, surgery, changes to diet and lifestyle, and carrying out responsive neural stimulation.


  1. “Complex Partial Seizures” – Epilepsy Foundation. https://www.epilepsy.com/learn/types-seizures/complex-partial-seizures

  2. “Complex Partial Seizures” – Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/complex-partial-seizure/symptoms-causes/syc-20371283

  3. “Complex Partial Seizures” – Johns Hopkins Medicine. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/epilepsy/complex-partial-seizures

  4. “Complex Partial Seizures: Causes, Diagnosis, and Treatment” – Verywell Health. https://www.verywellhealth.com/complex-partial-seizure-4783684

  5. “Epilepsy and Seizure Overview” – WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/epilepsy/understanding-seizures-basics

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 10, 2023

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