What is epilepsy?

Epilepsy is a disorder of the brain that causes recurring seizure activity. Seizures occur when you have abnormal brain wave activity, resulting in changes in behavior or sensations.

How epilepsy affects your life may depend on whether you have generalized epilepsy or focalized epilepsy.

What is generalized epilepsy?

Generalized epilepsy means that abnormal activity involves both parts of your brain when you have a seizure. There are different types of generalized seizures, including:

Generalized tonic-clonic seizures

Generalized tonic-clonic seizures, previously known as grand-mal seizures, are a severe type of epilepsy. During a generalized tonic-clonic seizure, you may lose consciousness and go into convulsions.

Absence seizures

With absence seizures, the seizure activity causes staring episodes and loss of consciousness or fluttering of the eyelids.

Myoclonic seizures

Myoclonic generalized seizures affect motor control, causing sporadic jerking of the limbs.

Tonic seizures

With tonic seizures, you may have a loss of consciousness, stiffness, or falling episodes.

Atonic seizures

Atonic seizures cause loss of muscle control and weakness. People with these types of seizures may fall during an episode.

What is focalized epilepsy?

Focalized epilepsy is epilepsy where the seizure activity starts in one area of the brain. The abnormal electrical activity may remain in the localized area or spread to other parts of the brain.

There a different types of Focalized epilepsy:


With simple focalized epilepsy, you stay aware during a seizure, but may have mild jerking or tilting of the head. 


Complex focalized epilepsy means you are unaware of what’s happening during a seizure and may have physical symptoms like staring, fidgeting, or chewing.

Partial with secondary generalized

Partial with secondary generalized epilepsy is a type of focalized epilepsy that causes loss of consciousness and convulsions during seizures. However, these symptoms are less severe than those that affect people with generalized tonic-clonic seizures.

How is epilepsy diagnosed?

The neurologists at Knight Neurology diagnose epilepsy if you have a history of two or more seizures from unknown causes. 

Knight Neurology performs an electroencephalogram (EEG) to understand your epilepsy better and determine the type. During an EEG, your neurologist evaluates and records the electrical activity in the brain. 

You don’t have to have a seizure during this test to be diagnosed with epilepsy. 

How is epilepsy treated?

Your neurologist at Knight Neurology customizes your epilepsy treatment plan based on the severity and frequency of your seizures. Treatment may include anti-seizure medication, placement of a vagal nerve stimulator (VNS), or surgical intervention.

For compassionate and comprehensive care for epilepsy, call Knight Neurology or schedule an appointment online today.

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