Partial Seizures

An epileptic seizure is the body and brain's response to sudden bursts of abnormal electrical activity in the brain. A partial seizure is an epileptic seizure that begins in a distinct part of the brain.

There are three types of partial seizures:

  • Simple partial seizures briefly disrupt a person's speech, movement, vision, or sense of smell or taste but do not affect a person's level of consciousness.
  • Complex partial seizures alter a person's level of consciousness and make the person stare into space. The person may notice a strange smell, taste, or feeling (aura) at the beginning of a seizure.
  • Partial seizures with secondary generalization begin like simple and complex partial seizures but then spread (generalize) to the rest of the brain, leading to the more familiar type of epileptic seizures (tonic-clonic seizures) in which the person's muscles stiffen and jerk.

Partial seizures are the most common type of seizure in adults. They can often be controlled with medicine or surgery.

Current as of: March 12, 2014

Author: Healthwise Staff

Medical Review: John Pope, MD - Pediatrics & Steven C. Schachter, MD - Neurology

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