The symptoms of epilepsy change in severity according to the type of epilepsy the patient suffers from. When diagnosing epilepsy, doctors consider both the symptoms and the frequency of epileptic incidences.
Tonic-clonic seizures (known as grand-mal seizures and the commonly recognized form of epilepsy): A 'full' seizure where the sufferer's body stiffens, and the muscles in the body spasm. This form of seizure often makes a person lose consciousness.
Absence seizures (commonly known as petit mal seizures): A person becomes unaware of what is happening around them without loosing consciousness; sufferer may be 'absent' for a few minutes and then 'wake up.' A lack of response and the appearance of staring into space characterize petit-mal seizures. Patients are often unaware a seizure has occurred.
Atonic seizure: The sufferer will lose all muscle tone suddenly, causing them to fall.
Clonic seizures: Symptoms of clonic seizures are a repetitive, jerking motion of the body.
Tonic seizures: The entire body becomes rigid and a sufferer often falls over.
Myoclonic seizures: Similar to clonic seizures, but more extreme: the body will jerk looking as though it is being shocked with electricity.
Simple partial seizures: This type of seizure is often unnoticeable to anyone except the sufferer. Symptoms include a strange taste, a feeling of 'deja vu', sudden attack of anxiety or fear and strong, imaginary smells.
Complex partial seizures: Often, a complex partial seizure starts with the same symptoms as a simple partial seizure - the sufferer will then become unaware of what is happening around them for a short period of time but not lose consciousness. 'Spacing out' is a term often used to define the symptoms of a complex partial seizure.
When a seizure lasts for more than 3 minutes, the risk of serious harm increases. It is likely patients are entering a type of seizure known as status epilepticus, which can be life threatening.
The information on this site is not a substitute for diagnosis or treatment from a licensed medical practitioner. If you are experiencing a serious medical condition call your local emergency services or your doctor.