Healthy Living

Know What Is Epilepsy with Generalized Seizures

Know What Is Epilepsy with Generalized Seizures

Key Takeaways

  • Generalized seizures seem to involve the entire brain.
  • It was formerly known as generalized convulsive epilepsy.
  • Other known terms for this type of seizure are grand mal seizure or generalized tonic-clonic seizure.

Epilepsy is a known neurological condition characterized by seizures. These seizures are the result of intense electrical activity in the brain. When this abnormal brain activity happens in one area of the brain, it is called a partial seizure. However, when they occur in the entire brain, it is now called a generalized seizure. Generalized seizure is also known as grand mal seizure or generalized tonic-clonic seizure.

What are the Causes of Epilepsy with Generalized Seizures?

The possible causes of epilepsy with generalized seizures include:

  • Genetics
  • Head trauma
  • Autism
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Congenital conditions like Down’s syndrome
  • Changes in the brain’s structure
  • Brain infections such as encephalitis and meningitis
  • Brain tumor
  • Stroke

Some people with generalized seizures can be caused by other factors other than epilepsy.

Risk Factors

People with epilepsy have an increased risk of having seizures if they have the following:

  • Emotional stress
  • Lack of sleep
  • Alcohol use
  • Taking new drugs, supplements, or vitamins
  • Pregnancy
  • Drug use

Permanent brain damage, traumatic injury, and learning disabilities are some of the complications of epilepsy.

What are the Symptoms of Epilepsy with Generalized Seizures?

When a generalized seizure happens, the muscles will first become stiff and then become rigid. Next, violent muscle contractions are experienced, wherein the muscles move quickly and in random spasms. The person will eventually pass out or lose his/her consciousness and will not be aware of the event.

During the seizure, the person may bite the tongue, lose bladder or bowel control, have lockjaw, or may turn blue on the face. Prior to seizure, odd changes in smell, taste, vision, and emotions may occur. An aura may also be experienced before the seizure happens. An aura can be in the form of hallucination, feeling disoriented, or having a tingling sensation.

After the seizure has passed, the person will not remember anything with what had happened. The person may feel normal again or may experience drowsiness, confusion, headache, or Todd’s paralysis (a temporary one-sided body weakness). 

Diagnosing Epilepsy with Generalized Seizures

Epilepsy is a serious condition that needs professional help. To be able to find out the cause of epilepsy, the doctor will need a description of one's symptoms and specific events of epilepsy. Diagnostic procedures like electroencephalogram can also help make a correct diagnosis.

An electroencephalogram or EEG is a diagnostic procedure that records the brain waves through the small wires attached in the person’s head. Unusual patterns may be recorded during or in between seizures. A video EEG may also be done to get a clear reading. A portable EEG, on the other hand, may be used while the person is doing normal activities.

CT scan and MRI may also be used to scan the brain and check for abnormal formations. Other tests would include complete blood count, blood chemistry test, and blood sugar test.

Treatments for Epilepsy with Generalized Seizures

Medications

Anticonvulsants are used to help prevent seizures. For these medications to work, they must be taken as instructed by the doctor. If you’re pregnant and you have epilepsy, discuss your medications with your doctor as certain medications for epilepsy can cause birth defects.

Surgery

To treat generalized seizures, surgery may be performed. These procedures can help reduce or eliminate seizures. During surgery, the surgeon can:

  • Put a vagus nerve stimulation
  • Remove abnormal brain cells that cause seizures
  • Remove bleeding or brain tumors