What Happens When You Have A Seizure: An Informative Guide

The mind is a beautiful place, and our body helps us achieve the dreams we build in our minds. But sometimes, this happy place may face occurrences that affect us. Each of these challenges affects our body, mind, and soul from diseases to disorders. But there is always a way to treat it or at least reduce it considerably so that we can live a peaceful and happy life. Out of these many diseases and disorders, one significant occurrence and challenge in life faced by many is seizures. One must wonder, what happens when you have a seizure?

Many of us have to bear this painful disorder daily. It causes uncontrollable behavior and can worsen. So, it is really important to know about seizures and what happens when you have a seizure.

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1. What is A Seizure?

To understand what happens when you have a seizure, we need to understand what a seizure is.

A sudden synchronous discharge of neurons leads to symptoms and signs?

A seizure is a disturbance in the brain. It occurs suddenly and is uncontrolled. The nerve cells are affected. A seizure can cause a lot of changes, like changes in behavior or movement, or your feelings. It also affects your consciousness level.1

Seizures are caused due to changes that occur in the brain’s electrical activity. These changes in the electrical activity in the brain cells can cause symptoms that range from mild to dramatic.

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Photo by Karolina Grabowska from Pexels

2. What is Epilepsy?

To understand what happens when you have a seizure, you must also understand another disorder related to it i.e., epilepsy.

Epilepsy is a disease or disorder of the brain. Epilepsy causes a person to become unconscious. It is comprised of seizures. When you have two or more seizures that occur at least twenty-four hours apart, and there is no identifiable cause, this is generally called epilepsy. Epilepsy can also cause uncontrollable violent movements.

Epilepsy can be characterized in humans as being prone to seizures. It is a common problem in the human nervous system.2 Those affected include people from a variety of cultures – race, or nationality.

The brain is composed of nerve cells communicating electrically between them. Seizures occur whenever one part of the brain bursts abnormal electrical signals interrupting normal brain signals3. Any interruption of nerve cell connectivity in the body could result in seizures. It can be high blood pressure, high blood pressure, alcohol withdrawals, or concussions in the brain.

3. Epilepsy Symptoms

Epilepsy usually manifests as repeating episodes in the brain. These occur when the brain suddenly switches on and temporarily changes how they work. Seizures have various effects on a person depending on the brain.

Sometimes seizures cause the muscles to shake and the brain to shake, and some cause problems like losing consciousness or feeling strange. They usually happen within 2-4 minutes. Seizures happen while asleep. Some are triggered by something, for example, feeling extremely tired. Read more to get help for people with seizures.

3.1 Living with epilepsy

  • It’s possible to have epilepsy and maintain health.
  • Take the correct medication.
  • Get enough rest because a poor night’s sleep will cause epilepsy.
  • Do not do things that cause seizures. Have tests if needed.
  • Check with your health practitioner regularly.
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Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

4. What Happens When You Have A Seizure?

A seizure is an electrical disturbance that occurs in the human body.

These effects can cause significant and apparent symptoms. Severe seizure is usually characterized by shaking and losing control.

Because seizures often cause injury or symptoms, they should be treated if possible.

During seizures, an intense electrical surge suddenly disrupts normal brain function. Usually, this activity can occur within an area and last a few seconds or spread through the brain for minutes.

Seizures disrupt normal body functions and cause uncontrollable muscle spasms and behaviors. They are related to disruptions in the brain cells.4

5. What Causes A Seizure?

A significant factor in knowing what happens when you have a seizure is understanding the causes behind a seizure.

The causes of seizures vary from different sources. A neurodegeneration imbalance in brain chemicals, brain tumor, stroke, brain damage from illness, or damage Epilepsy may result from varying factors. Often epilepsy is not suspected.

6. Symptoms of Seizures

To understand what happens when you have a seizure, we need to look at the symptoms of seizures.

You may have different symptoms from the seizures you experience. Some symptoms can also be attributed to: stare jerking movement around the hands or feet.


  • Confusion (temporary)
  • Staring
  • Muscles become stiff; the Body stiffens
  • Arms and legs start performing jerking movements uncontrollably
  • Uncontrollable muscle spasms
  • Psychological symptoms like anxiety or fear or deja vu
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Losing awareness
  • Cognitive symptoms
  • Problem in breathing
  • Lose bowel or bladder control

When you experience seizures, the symptoms may range from moderate to intense and can vary according to the type of seizures. Seizure symptoms include: Most physicians classify seizures as either focal or generalized according to where or when abnormal brain activity is started. Seizures can also be categorized as a mystery when the cause and extent have not yet been known.

7. When to See A Doctor?

Seek immediate medical assistance if you suffer seizures.

What happens when you have a seizure is best diagnosed and treated by visiting a doctor as soon as possible.

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Photo by Karolina Grabowska from Pexels

8. How Are Seizures Treated?

After knowing what happens when you have a seizure, you can then move on to the treatment stage.

The treatment aims at limiting or stopping seizures. Treatment can generally be accomplished using the medicine. It is common for people to take various medications for epilepsy. Your doctor should determine the severity of your seizure and how it is caused. Medicines are selected according to the severity, age, and effect of a seizure, and the price is also considered.

Home medicine is typically consumed in tablets, capsules, sprinkles, or syrup Medications may go down and cause pain.

When you have an epileptic seizure, you can take medicine by injections or via vein IV.

Always get your prescription from your doctor before you leave your place.

8.1 Surgery

A surgical operation is performed in the brain area that causes seizures. Surgery can stop bad electricity in your brain. Surgery is often recommended to relieve headaches or other symptoms from an abnormally large amount. The surgical procedure in epileptic seizures has many complicated problems.

They are performed in specialized surgeon’s laboratories and clinics. The patient will probably wake up during the recovery during the surgical procedure. Unlike other systems, the brain has no pain. If a person is awake and can understand a given command, they will better see areas around their brain during surgery. Surgery isn’t a solution for every seizure.

8.2 Vagus nerve stimulation (VNS)

These therapies send light pulses into brains from a vagina nerve. There are two big neck nerves there. Depending on how much pain is induced by the seizures, it may be possible a VNS may be a good alternative. The operation involves the surgical installation of the battery into the chest wall.

Batteries are designed to send energy to the brain every few minutes. When you sense seizures, you can trigger the urge by placing an electric current over an electrical outlet. The battery is then connected using wires that lie under the skin around the vagus nerve. It often helps to stop seizures from happening.

8.3 Other Treatments

When you know what happens when you have a seizure, and you try to treat it, but medicine isn’t helping you, your doctor can recommend alternative treatment options. You might have:

  • Medicines
  • Diet therapy
  • Stimulation electrically (deep brain stimulation)
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9. Types of Seizures

9.1 Focal Seizures

When you experience seizures, the symptoms may range varying from moderate to intense and can vary according to the type of seizures. Seizure symptoms include: Most physicians classify seizures as either focal or generalized according to where or when abnormal brain activity is started. Seizures can also be categorized as a mystery when the cause and extent have not yet been known.

9.2 Focal (Partial) Seizures

Focal seizures occur whenever abnormal electrical brain functions occur within a particular brain area. During the initial phase of focal seizures, you may see the aura or signs of seizures. The underlying cause of the seizures can be complex or focal. Auras are generally characterized by emotions like deja vu, imminent doom, fear, and euphoria. You can experience changes in hearing and vision. The two kinds of focal seizures are:

9.3 Complex Focal Seizures

This type of seizure frequently occurs in a brain region governing emotion or memory function (temporal lobes). You’ll probably be unconscious. It doesn’t mean that you’re faint. Maybe you don’t even know how things are happening around you. Your body looks awake and displays several different unusual behaviors. They could consist of gagging, licking your lips, or kicking your back to get away. You may feel tired after your seizures. Usually called postictal periods.

9.4 Simple Focal Seizures

The symptoms are different depending upon where you have brain damage. When abnormal electrical functioning occurs in the brain that affects vision (ocular lobe), you might lose sight. Occasionally muscle tissue can be affected. Seizures are restricted to isolated muscle groups. Usually, this is limited to fingers or bigger muscles of the legs. You might feel a little sweating, a headache, or even paleness. You’re not losing the sense of awareness during these seizures.

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Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels

9.5 Generalized Seizures

A generalized seizure is a type of seizure that occurs in both brains. You lose consciousness and feel fatigued after an epileptic seizure.

Generalized seizure types include:

  1. Absence seizure
  2. Atonic seizures
  3. Tonic seizures
  4. Tonic-clonic seizures
  5. Myoclonic seizures
  6. Febrile seizure

All these are called generalized seizures.

Seizures - Seizure Types | Generalized vs Focal Seizures | Causes of Seizures (Mnemonic)

9.6 Generalized Tonic-Clonic Seizure (GTC)

What is a tonic-clonic seizure or tonic-clonic seizure? It’s sometimes referred to as the Grand Mal Seizures or grand mal seizure of the Brain. The traditional form of seizures is in five separate phases. You can feel your body movements and arms stretching out and trembling and trembling. It then leads to the contraction and relaxation of skeletal and postictal muscles.

In the post-partum period, you can feel restless and tired. Some people have difficulty reading or writing and also have earaches. This phase is different from a typical seizure.

9.7 Myoclonic Seizure

Myoclonic seizures5 are the type of seizure that affect muscles or a muscle group, causing jerking movements or spasms.

They usually occur along with Atonic seizures, which cause sudden muscle limping.

9.8 Partial Seizures

Partial seizures are a type of seizure that affects only one part of the brain thus, only part of the body is affected.

  • Simple Partial Seizure

A simple partial seizure occurs when the seizure affects only a part of the brain and body, and the affected person is still aware or has consciousness (no loss of consciousness).

  • Complex Partial Seizure

In a complex partial seizure, the affected individual loses their awareness and tends to lose consciousness (loss of consciousness). The seizure affects only a part of the brain and body.

9.9 Absence Seizures

This is sometimes termed an epileptic seizure. It is caused by a brief change in consciousness and staring. You should probably stay on top of things. You can feel your mouth shaking. It usually lasts about 20 seconds.

During this time, you can no longer remember what was just happening. You can continue doing what is happening without noticing it. These seizures occur on multiple occasions at the same time.

9.10 Atonic Seizure

It is often known as a dropping attack. During the atonic seizure, you may lose muscle tone suddenly and fall from the standing position. When you go to the hospital you’ll be limping and you can’t react.

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Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

10. What are the 3 Main Phases of a Seizure?

To understand what happens when you have a seizure, we need to also know the three phases of a seizure.

  1. Phase 1 – Aura
  2. Stage 1: Middle (Ictal)
  3. Stage 1: Ending (Postictal)
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11. Epilepsy Foundation

Epilepsy foundation or Epilepsy Foundation of America is a non-profit organization dedicated to the welfare of people with epilepsy or seizures. Their aim is to help treat epilepsy and seizure. Epilepsy specialists ensure that the seizure activity is controlled.

12. Overview

What happens when you have a seizure?

Seizures are sudden uncontrolled electrical disturbances in the human body that occur. This may affect your mental state and levels of consciousness. A couple of or more seizures that are undiagnosable or unrelated are usually diagnosed as epilepsy. It can cause various types of seizures varying in severity. Different types of seizures are different from brain areas where they start or how quickly they spread. Most seizures take about 30 seconds – 2 minutes. The duration of an emergency is longer than 5 minutes. Seizures occur far sooner than people think.

Seizures, when occurred frequently, can be diagnosed to be epilepsy. Epilepsy is a disorder of the brain. It can cause a person to lose consciousness and can cause uncontrollable violent movements.

Seizures and epilepsy also lead to effects like intense feeling, head injury, loss of muscle control, low blood sugar, vomiting occurs, brain’s electrical activity being affected and brain injury. While dealing with seizures and what happens when you have a seizure, common terms that one may come across are:

  • Medical emergency
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Photo by Pixabay from Pexels
  • Anti-seizure medications
  • control seizures
  • seizure control
  • temporal lobe
  • blood tests
  • urine tests
  • disease control
  • warning signs
  • clinical practice
  • seizure signs
  • manage seizures
  • neurological disorders
  • treating epilepsy
  • petit mal seizures
  • abnormal electrical activity
  • repeated seizures
  • focal onset seizures

It is important to know what happens when you have a seizure. Dealing with seizures is not easy, and so we need to be more understanding and careful towards people affected with seizures or epilepsy.

Seizures are not always permanent and can be treated when effective measures are taken properly. So, it is always good to be well-informed and understanding.

Read more from us here.

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13. FAQs

Q. What Can Trigger a Seizure?

The simplest or most common triggers for seizures (seizure triggers):

  • Missed medications. Symptoms can occur from taking an unnatural med or simply taking a drug that can cause seizures or other medical conditions.
  • Recreational Drugs
  • Alcohol
  • Tiredness or Lack of Sleep
  • Caffeine
  • Boredom
  • Stress or Anxiety
  • Skipping Meals
  • Dehydration
  • Flickering or Flashing Lights
  • Food Triggers
  • Changes in Hormones

The above-mentioned points are a few common seizure triggers.

Q. What are the First Signs of a Seizure?

What happens to you when you have a seizure?

  • Aura Warnings.
  • Unusually unpleasant sensation.
  • Nausea.
  • A sense of confusion and panic.
  • Spins and needles in some areas.
  • Jerky moves on a wrist.
  1. Bayne, Tim, Jakob Hohwy, and Adrian M. Owen. “Are there levels of consciousness?.” Trends in cognitive sciences 20.6 (2016): 405-413. ↩︎
  2. Mai, Jürgen K., and George Paxinos, eds. The human nervous system. Academic press, 2011. ↩︎
  3. Perrone, Rossana, Omar Macadar, and Ana Silva. “Social electric signals in freely moving dyads of Brachyhypopomus pinnicaudatus.” Journal of Comparative Physiology A 195 (2009): 501-514. ↩︎
  4. Logsdon, Aric F., et al. “Role of microvascular disruption in brain damage from traumatic brain injury.” Comprehensive Physiology 5.3 (2015): 1147. ↩︎
  5. Striano, Pasquale, and Vincenzo Belcastro. “Treatment of myoclonic seizures.” Expert Review of Neurotherapeutics 12.12 (2012): 1411-1418. ↩︎

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Srishti Sonavane

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