In this section
Introduction to seizures
A seizure is defined when there is a sudden burst of intense electrical activity in the brain.
In around six out of 10 people, doctors don’t know the causes of epilepsy.
There are times a person will no longer be considered to have epilepsy.
The International League Against Epilepsy (ILAE), a world-wide organisation of epilepsy professionals, has put together a list of the names of different seizure types.
Focal (partial) seizures
In focal seizures, epileptic activity starts in one part of the person’s brain.
Todd’s paresis (sometimes called Todd’s paralysis)
Focal seizures that act as a warning of a generalised seizure
In generalised seizures, you have epileptic activity in both hemispheres (halves) of your brain.
Most seizures are brief or last for a few minutes. However, sometimes a seizure can last for longer. If seizure activity lasts for 30 minutes or more, it is called status epilepticus.
What to do when someone has a seizure
First aid for people with epilepsy
If you would like to see this information with references, visit the Advice and Information references section of our website. If you are unable to access the internet, please contact our Epilepsy Helpline by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Epilepsy Action wishes to thank Dr John Paul Leach, consultant neurologist, Honorary Clinical Associate Professor, Glasgow, UK for reviewing this information.
This information has been produced under the terms of The Information Standard.
Updated August 2014To be reviewed August 2017