There are many types of epileptic seizures and understanding the nuances of this condition requires that one understands the many types involved. After all, not all types of epilepsies are equal; some conditions are far more serious than others requiring innovative treatment methods to help remedy the condition. If you are interested in learning more about epilepsy, the discussion inevitably begins with the different types and how each type leads to a different set of symptoms which in turn require different treatment approaches.
Now, the truth is, there are many different types of seizures because there are many systems in use to classify the different conditions. As many as 40 different types of epileptic seizures are known to medical science when all the classification systems are combined to provide a descriptive structure for each and every condition. The most useful of these classification systems is the one that deals with the underlying pathophysiology or anatomy which in turn leads to the seizure. Diagnosis is often carried out using an EEG which helps determine the origin of the seizures in the patient’s brain.
- Simple partial seizures. These types of epileptic seizures are classified as partial seizures because they do not often lead to the breakdown of all motor and sensory functions. With simple partial seizures, patients may only experience a small subset of symptoms which impairs either the motor, sensory, autonomic or psychic functions but not all at once. In essence, the consciousness of the person is not impaired in the midst of a seizure episode.
- Complex partial seizures. By extension, these are the seizures that already impair the patient’s consciousness and are often psychomotor in nature. Psychomotor seizures mean that the patient seizes by having involuntary muscle contractions while also mentally blocking out at the same time.
- Partial seizures evolving to secondary generalized seizures. These are types of epileptic seizures that originate at a very specific place in the brain but gradually progresses to include the whole brain; hence the term “generalized.”
- Absence seizures. These are episodes that impair the consciousness and awareness of the person but do not necessarily lead to seizing in the typical sense. People with absence seizures often stare blankly or daydream excessively but do not show any other obvious physical symptom other than lack of responsiveness.
- Clonic and myoclonic seizures. These are types of epileptic seizures that involve sudden jerks but happen during such a short period of time that the patient is not even aware that it has happened. Clonic and myoclonic seizures often affects just a small portion of the body, usually an arm or a leg, and is vaguely noticeable because the person will continue to remain conscious despite the involuntary response owing to the shortness of the episode.
- Tonic-clonic seizures. This is the classic seizure episode when the person falls to the ground and exhibits the typical visual cues that indicate a full-blown seizure. The most common indication includes the person biting their tongue or loss of motor control resulting in urination or involuntary bowel movement.
With so many different types of epileptic seizures, it is best to leave it to the experts to classify the condition and then recommend the appropriate treatment. What one can do is to take note of the symptoms and report them accordingly so the doctor can take into consideration all the manifestations of the condition leading to an eventual and definitive diagnosis.