Epilepsy is a central nervous system disorder (neurological disorder) that is typically characterized by periods of seizures or unusual behavior, sensations, and sometimes loss of awareness. Seizures are sudden surges of electrical activity in the brain. Seizure symptoms can look vastly different and vary widely. For example, some individuals may stare absently for a few seconds while having a seizure, and others may experience tonic contractions (i.e., flexion) or clonic movements (i.e., jerks) of their arms and legs. Typically, epilepsy is diagnosed after someone has had at least two seizures in which there were not clear underlying medical causes. While the main symptom of epilepsy is reoccurring seizures, other symptoms that may indicate epilepsy are:

  • A convulsion with no fever
  • Short blackouts and/or memory loss/confusion
  • Staring unprompted and unresponsive for a period of time
  • Intermittent fainting spells with loss of bowel or bladder control that may be followed by extreme fatigue and tiredness
  • Sudden stiffness or sudden falling for no identifiable reason
  • Sudden bouts of blinking or automatic movements without any clear reason/stimuli
  • Seeming temporarily dazed and unable to communicate
  • Repetitive movements that seem uncontrolled and involuntary (e.g., swallowing, smacking lips, wringing hands)
  • Fearfulness, panic, or anger for no identifiable reason
  • Uncontrollable jerking movements of arms and/or legs (this will appear as a cluster of rapid jerking movements in babies)
  • Temporary confusion and disorientation

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