• Seizure- abnormal electrical activity in the brain that results in an alteration in sensation, motor function, behavior, or consciousness
  • Epilepsy- A seizure disorder characterized by recurrent, unprovoked seizures
  • It is possible to have a seizure without having epilepsy
  • An exact description of the seizure is important because the different treatment options often depend on the type of seizures that you or family member are experiencing.

Symptoms and Signs

  • There are many different types of seizures and the most common is called a generalized tonic-clonic (aka grand mal) seizure
  • Seizures can range from a blank stare (Absence seizure) to a rhythmic jerking of the arms and legs (grand mal seizure)


  • Occur in all age groups but a new, unprovoked seizure in an adult should be worked up for an underlying cause
  • Most commonly occur in kids and young adults



  • Anticonvulsants- there are many different medications used to treat seizures/epilepsy and often multiple drugs/combinations are required in order to maintain adequate control
  • Surgery- there are many different surgical options for intractable epilepsy (the cases in which medication does not control).


  • Dependent on the type and underlying cause of the seizures
  • Surgical treatment of poorly controlled epilepsy has improved seizure frequency in a subset of epilepsy patients

Differential Diagnosis

  • Metabolic abnormality
  • Non-epileptic seizures- a psychiatric condition