How a doctor may diagnose epilepsy
A doctor may diagnose a person with epilepsy when he or she has any of the following:
- Two or more seizures that happen on their own more than 24 hours apart
- A seizure that happens on its own with a strong chance of another seizure occurring
- A diagnosis of an epilepsy syndrome
Understanding seizure disorders
Seizure disorder is a term that may be used in place of the term epilepsy. A seizure disorder is a condition where recurring seizures are a symptom. A person with a seizure disorder may feel just as healthy as everyone else most of the time, but sometimes he or she has a seizure. When a person’s seizure disorder has certain features, he or she may have a specific epilepsy syndrome.
Types of seizures
Partial seizures, also called partial-onset or focal seizures, occur in a specific area in the brain. They are the most common type of seizure.
- Simple partial seizure—a type of seizure in which the unusual electrical activity is limited to a specific area in the brain, and the person remains conscious or aware during the seizure
- Complex partial seizure—a type of seizure in which the unusual electrical activity is limited to a specific area in the brain, and the person loses or has impaired consciousness
Generalized seizures, such as tonic-clonic seizures, affect both sides of the brain from the beginning of the seizure.
- Secondarily generalized seizure—a seizure that begins as a partial seizure, in a specific area of the brain, but then spreads throughout the brain.
- Tonic-clonic (formerly called grand mal)—the most common type of generalized seizure. In the tonic phase, the limbs stiffen. During the clonic phase, the limbs and face make jerking movements.