If you have epilepsy, it means you have a tendency to have epileptic seizures. But what are epileptic seizures?
Electrical activity is happening in our brain all the time, as networks of tiny brain cells send messages to each other. These messages control all our thoughts, movements, senses and body functions. A seizure happens when there is a sudden, intense burst of electrical activity in the brain, which causes the messages between cells to get mixed up. The result is an epileptic seizure.
How a seizure affects you depends on what area of the brain is involved in this intense electrical activity. You might lose consciousness, or you might stay aware of what’s happening around you. You might have strange sensations, or movements you can’t control. Or you might go stiff, fall to the floor and shake.
Some people only have one type of seizure, and some people have more than one type.
Click on the links below to learn more about the structure of the brain, and some of the most common types of epileptic seizure.
Epilepsy Action would like to thank Dr John Paul Leach, consultant neurologist at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital, Glasgow, for this contribution to this information.
Dr Leach has declared no conflict of interest.
This information has been produced under the terms of Epilepsy Action's information quality standards.
- Updated July 2019To be reviewed July 2022