What to know about epilepsy – symptoms

What to know about epilepsy – symptoms

People with epilepsy usually experience recurrent seizures. These seizures occur due to a disruption of electrical activity in the brain, which temporarily disturbs the messaging systems between brain cells.

This article explains the many types of epilepsy, including their symptoms, treatment options, and prognoses.


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) describe epilepsy as “a common brain condition that causes repeated seizures.”


A person with epilepsy may experience short blackouts or confused memory.

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The main symptom of epilepsy is recurrent seizures. However, if a person experiences one or more of the following symptoms, they should seek medical attention, as it may indicate epilepsy:

  • a convulsion with no fever
  • short blackouts or confused memory
  • intermittent fainting spells, during which they lose bowel or bladder control, frequently followed by extreme tiredness
  • temporary unresponsiveness to instructions or questions
  • sudden stiffness for no apparent reason
  • sudden falling for no apparent reason
  • sudden bouts of blinking without apparent stimuli
  • sudden bouts of chewing without any clear reason
  • temporarily seeming dazed and unable to communicate
  • repetitive movements that seem involuntary
  • fearfulness for no apparent reason
  • panic or anger
  • peculiar changes in senses, such as smell, touch, and sound
  • jerking arms, legs, or body, which will appear as a cluster of rapid jerking movements in babies

It is vital to seek consultation with a doctor if any of these symptoms occur repeatedly.

The following conditions may cause similar symptoms to those above, so some people can mistake them for those of epilepsy:

  • high fever with epilepsy-like symptoms
  • fainting
  • narcolepsy, or recurring episodes of sleep during the day
  • cataplexy, or periods of extreme muscle weakness
  • sleep disorders
  • nightmares
  • panic attacks
  • fugue state, a rare psychiatric condition in which a person forgets details about their identity
  • psychogenic seizures, or seizures with a psychological or psychiatric cause

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