Focal seizures

When an epileptic seizure starts in one side of the brain, it’s called a focal onset seizure or a focal seizure. Both terms mean the same thing. Until recently these seizures were called partial seizures.

What are the different types of focal seizure?

There are many different types of focal seizure, but they can be split into two main types according to what level of awareness you have during the seizure.

Focal aware seizures

During a focal aware seizure, you stay fully aware of what’s happening around you, even if you can’t move or respond. This type of seizure used to be called a simple partial seizure.

What are auras?

Some people with epilepsy use the word ‘aura’ to describe the feeling they get that warns them they’re about to have a tonic-clonic seizure. The aura is in fact the seizure starting in one side of the brain as a focal aware seizure. The seizure then spreads to affect both sides of the brain. See focal to bilateral tonic-clonic seizures.

Focal aware seizures can also happen on their own, without developing into another seizure type. Some people who have focal aware seizures on their own also call them auras.

Focal impaired awareness seizures

If your awareness of what’s happening around you is affected at any time during your seizure, it’s called a focal impaired awareness seizure. This type of seizure used to be called a complex partial seizure.

Motor or non-motor

Doctors may also use the words motor or non-motor to describe focal seizures. Focal motor describes focal seizures where the main symptoms involve muscle activity, such as jerking, loss of muscle tone or repeated movements. Focal non-motor describes seizures where the main symptoms don’t involve muscle activity. They can include things like changes in emotions, thinking and sensations.

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What happens during a focal seizure?

What happens during a focal seizure depends on which area (lobe) of the brain is affected, and whether the seizure spreads to affect other areas. Some people just experience one symptom during a focal seizure, while others experience several.

Frontal lobes

The symptoms of frontal lobe seizures can sometimes be mistaken for mental health problems or sleep disorders. Some people who have frontal lobe seizures only have them in their sleep. They are usually brief, but often happen in clusters, with several happening in a short space of time. Your awareness may or may not be affected.

Symptoms of seizures in the frontal lobes can include:

  • Pelvic thrusting, kicking, pedalling, thrashing or rocking movements
  • Screaming, swearing or laughing
  • Unintentionally passing urine (urinary incontinence)
  • Your head or eyes turning to one side
  • Having unusual body movements, such as stretching one arm while the other bends
  • Twitching, jerking or stiffening of muscles in one area of your body. The movements may sometimes spread bit by bit to other areas

Occipital lobes

Seizures starting in the occipital lobe often spread to involve other lobes.

Symptoms of seizures starting in the occipital lobe include:

  • Seeing flashing lights, colours or simple patterns
  • Seeing more complex images, such as pictures of people, animals or scenes
  • Not being able to see as well as usual, or not being able to see at all
  • Having eye movements you can’t control, such as your eyes closing, moving to one side or rapidly moving from side-to-side
  • Eyelid fluttering

Parietal lobes

Seizures starting in the parietal lobe often spread to involve other lobes.

Symptoms of seizures starting in the parietal lobes can include:

  • Having feelings of numbness or tingling
  • Prickling, crawling or electric-shock sensations, which may spread along the affected body part
  • Sensations of burning, cold or pain
  • Feeling like part or all of your body is moving or floating
  • Feeling like a body part has shrunk, enlarged or is missing
  • Sexual sensations
  • Difficulty understanding language, reading, writing or doing simple maths
  • Seeing things as larger or smaller than they really are, or seeing things that aren’t there

Temporal lobes

If you have been diagnosed with temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE) it means you have seizures starting in one or other of the temporal lobes. Seizures starting in the temporal lobes are usually focal impaired awareness seizures, but focal aware seizures can also happen. You might start the seizure being aware of what’s happening, and then lose awareness as the seizure progresses.

Symptoms of seizures in the temporal lobes include:

  • Feeling frightened
  • Feeling like what’s happening has happened before (deja vu)
  • Hearing things that aren’t there
  • Experiencing an unpleasant taste or smell
  • Having a rising sensation in your stomach
  • Lip smacking, repeated swallowing or chewing
  • Changes to your skin tone or heart rate
  • Automatic behaviours such as fidgeting, undressing, running or walking

After a temporal lobe seizure you are likely to be confused, and may find it hard to speak for a short time.

How long do focal seizures last?

Most focal aware seizures are brief, lasting between a few seconds and 2 minutes. Focal impaired awareness seizures usually last between one and 2 minutes.

What happens after a focal seizure?

What happens after a focal seizure varies from person to person. You might feel fine after a focal seizure and be able to get back to what you were doing straight away. Or you might feel confused or tired for some time afterwards. You might need to sleep.

Some people find they have temporary weakness or can’t move part of their body after they’ve had a seizure. This is called Todd’s paresis or Todd’s paralysis. It can last from a few minutes up to 36 hours, before going away.

How can someone help me during a focal seizure?

You might not need any help from people around you during a focal seizure, especially if it’s brief and you’re aware of what’s happening. But if you’re not aware of what you’re doing you might need help to guide you away from danger and keep you safe. See our first aid information, or ask them to take our short online course which shows them what to do when someone has a seizure.

See this information with references

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 Action Helpline freephone on 0808 800 5050.

Code: 
B037.06

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 November 2019
    To be reviewed July 2022

Comments: read the 30 comments or add yours

Comments

Hi. My Brother suffers from TLE and has been on medication for several years now. He has seizures now and again however they only last a few minutes. just over a week ago he had what we think was a seizure for well over 30mins where he couldn’t make sense of anything we were saying and he couldn’t speak as his words where mixed up. He was stumbling about couldn’t understand why we were there etc. He did attend A&E however pulled himself around. Since then we have had to ring an ambulance on another 2 occasions where he is vomiting can’t see properly and is very confused and stumbling about. He had a brain scan and lots of blood tests and nothing unusual. Hospital said he was medically fit to leave however this is still ongoing. Do you think this relates to his epilepsy? Is it usual for this to effect you over a week later?

Submitted by Karen

Hi Karen

Thank you for your message.

It’s not common for someone to be affected in this way after a focal seizure, even a prolonged focal seizure. We have some more information on prolonged seizures on our website.

I am wondering if these episodes of vomiting and confusion could be symptoms of further focal seizures. But there are lots of other things that could also cause these symptoms. And we aren’t medically trained so we’re not able to make a diagnosis.

It would be a good idea for your brother to speak to his epilepsy specialist, epilepsy nurse (if he has one) or his GP about this for advice.

Regards

Jess

Epilepsy Action Helpline Team

Submitted by Jess - Epilepsy...

I was diagnosed with grand mal epilepsy aged 8. I am now 44 & at aged 21 I was diagnosed with an arachnoid cyst on my front left temperal lobe...to cut a long story short, my epilepsy was blamed on the cyst - leading to 2 neuro ops & a v.p shunt...after a year, I had the shunt clipped, due to more headaches...15 years later, I had the entire shunt removed. I have since been diagnosed with numerous health problems, my latest being told I have autonomic dysfunction, ptsd, B12 defiency....to name a few. Now, I'm in complete distress....I recently had a 72 hr eeg & the results have shocked me, in my report I'm now being told consultants do not believe I'm epileptic, but I'm being told I'm having seizures in my sleep?? & It's dangerous for me, I need to have another eeg done? (I had a visit from a social worker whom I'm no longer under there services, come to my home unexpectedly to tell me this?) ....it has not came from my g.p.
I'm so scared to sleep, my body stiffens for hours ...I can't move, speak, yet my soul wants to run out of my body but I can't, I feel "stuck" in my head. I am not seeing a neurologist until December coming....they have no interest tbh, I'm waiting to see a rheumatologist ...with no appointment as yet, but in the last year my health has deteriorated. I have no one to talk to, no answers ...nothing. I still having all sorts of seizures, from absent to tonic clonic, auras, standing up, going stuff then having a fit....2 in a row. I have list faith in Neurologists. They've made me feel like I'm lying yet I have a report about my sleep is not normal, but left to my own devices. I'm scared I won't wake up from my sleep. Any advice?. T.i.a.

Submitted by Polly

Hi Polly.

It sounds like you’re having to deal with a really tough situation. I’ve never heard of someone being offered a diagnosis by a social worker before. That must have felt very strange.

It is possible the doctors have decided that you may have what we call dissociative seizures. As you can see there are many different names for these. And it is not surprising that you feel very unsettled by this. To be told this after thinking you have epilepsy for so many years, is a huge thing to come to terms with. The seizures are still very real. The difference is that they have a psychological cause rather than happening as the result of epileptic activity. So they wouldn’t be controlled by epilepsy medicine. Because of this the neurologist may well want you to start reducing your epilepsy medicine. Also, unlike epileptic seizures, non-epileptic ones are not dangerous unless you injure yourself.  The treatment for these seizures is talking therapy. If it hasn’t already happened, ask your neurologist or GP to refer you for this.

I hope things start to improve for you soon.

 

Regards

 

Cherry  

Epilepsy Action Helpline Team

 

Submitted by Cherry - Epilep...

I'm a medical student and recently we began looking at epilepsy. Some research has made me wonder about experiences that I have had ever since I was little. It's usually when I'm quite relaxed and I suddenly start feeling like I'm swaying, and it picks up, becoming more rapid like I'm being shaken. It will then slow down, and then start again in a different direction. There is also a very specific sequence of images I'll see, and I do feel a bit out of it when it happens. Sometimes I also get a horrible smell in my nose. It's not serious and generally I can continue with what I'm doing, but I do notice that I just kind of sit wherever I am and let it happen rather than trying to get out of it. I've tried to google it in the past and nothing ever comes up, and when I've mentioned it to other people, they don't understand what I'm going on about. I don't want to be paranoid about something that doesn't really cause a problem, but I was just wondering if you may have heard of anything like this being a type of focal seizure as it only lasts for a short period of time as far as I'm aware.

Submitted by Jodi

Dear Jodi

Thank you for your comment.

As trained epilepsy advisers, we can give general information on epilepsy. But we’re not able to diagnose your symptoms. If your symptoms are related to epilepsy, it could be some type of focal seizure. In these seizures, the epileptic activity starts in just a part of your brain. You may remain alert during this type of seizure, or you may not be aware of what is happening around you. You may have movements that you can’t control, or unusual sensations or feelings. Focal seizures can be very brief or last for minutes.

A number of medical conditions can cause symptoms similar to epilepsy. If you haven’t already, it would be best to talk to your doctor regarding your symptoms. If your doctor thinks it could be epilepsy, they should refer you to an epilepsy specialist for a diagnosis.  This would usually be to a neurologist. The ideal would be to someone with a specialist interest in epilepsy, as there are many different neurological conditions, and neurologists tend to specialise in different ones.

Diane

Epilepsy Action Helpline Team

Submitted by Diane - Epileps...

For about a year now, I have had strange episodes of 'deja vu' and 'jamais vu' which made me feel anxious, and have gradually got worse over time to where I get a similar feeling to being on a rollercoaster and like I'm going to throw up. At its worst, I have been known to have up to 5 of these 'episodes' a day. Until a few days ago, I had never heard of Temporal Lobe Epilepsy but upon reading about it I'm almost certain that it is the cause of my symptoms. I want to see a doctor about it but I just worry about getting them to take my concerns seriously and not just brush me off to our local mental health support team (when I first started getting them, I told the doctor I was having these weird flashes like deja vu and that's what happened).

Submitted by Kayleigh

Hello,
I have so many questions! But I will keep it brief, I was recently diagnosed in January 2020 and with everything else going on in the world it's difficult to see my Neuro as frequently and get testing as you would normally. The MRI was normal though (no tumors/lesions) and I'm on Topamax 25mg 2-2xaday=100mg. (The side effects are horrid, but I do feel a lot better.) She believes I have had epilepsy since childhood. Complex Focal Aware.
I am not even sure what the actual seizure is or what the left over feeling is... If that makes any sense. It also seems like some seizures are a bit different then the others so is that possible, that they won't always present the same way?
The other thing is the symptoms...my main ones are: I suddenly feel limp throughout my entire body, lethargy, then an extraordinary need to lie down takes over, not as if I'm sleepy but, some other more bizarre like a lack of physical strength to hold my muscles in position to even sit in a chair, my head and eyes become so heavy I cannot keep them up or open, pins and needles or a mushy vibration type feeling in my head/brain, severe vertigo laying flat so I absolutely have to lay on my side, anxious, inappropriately overly emotional (so I just usually say nothing so I won't act ridiculous!) feeling of being sucked into a tunnel, sudden stopping of brain...(I mean its like I can be talking normally in a deep conversation and suddenly all the words all the thoughts everything simply go blank! Just cease) and I'll stare off and sort of tap my hand maybe in a attempt to recall the thoughts sort of gesture but I can't stop doing it, then after that I feel mixed up confused, tired, nervous, upset, just bothered, physically I feel numb literally though not figurative. I feel hallowed out as if I can only feel my skin not my muscles or anything like if I could poke all the way to my bone, I would only feel the prick of my skin. That's so weird right!?!? To only feel your skin? Or to be acutely aware of your skin? Gosh it's bizarre! Oh and sometimes not always it's only when it's a really long or bad episode (seizure) It feels like my blood is acidic. Now obviously I have no idea what that actually feels like so how can I possibly know that... But that's the only way I could describe it. Is it just feels like someone has exposed all my nerves and acid blood is running through my body or fire blood and of course I'm super tired! Goodness gracious it's like running a marathon through a volcano for a few days! Then after a few days and a good nights sleep it's like nothing even happened. Which is a blessing! I just never know when I'll have an episode. So is the first part the seizure most likely then the second part that lasts is the recovery?
Is there a way to shorten how long you feel bad after a seizure? Does anyone else feel any of these things?

Oh and before I have a seizure I notice that I'll become fixated on something like I'll hear a word or a phrase and it'll go on repeat in my mind to the point of madness! Which I think is how I found this thread. So thought I should throw that in to just let you know why I'm here anyway... I get that too!

I suppose this was a long post after all. I'm so sorry. I'm just alone. I really don't have anyone around who knows anything about epilepsy and like I said given the nature of things today I cannot talk to my Dr or find a support group like you would normally be able to go to (Social Distancing). So I appreciate just getting to write this. It made me feel better reading all your experiences. It meant a lot to not feel alone. Thank you so much.

Submitted by Dorothy

Hi I had an experience last year and I want to ask if this sounds like a seizure? I was sitting when suddenly I felt like I collapsed, if I was standing I think I would've been on the floor. I was leaning really hard into the chair and couldn't move at all. My heart was racing and I couldn't breathe, my mind felt totally blank (although it's a bit of a blur I remember it quite vividly.) I was quite frightened and felt like I was going to die for a moment. Suddenly I felt like my heart stopped(I'm pretty sure it didn't, it just felt like it) and my vision started blurring/blacking out. After that I can't recall, I'm not sure whether I totally blacked out or immediately snapped out of it as I was home alone with no witnesses. This happened a year ago and was a one off experience, or at least hasn't happened since then. I know it's not epilepsy(or at least isn't enough to diagnose if it is), but I would like to know if this sounds like some sort of seizure. I still have no idea what it was, it came as suddenly as it went and I just want some answers. I did not go to see a doctor which I kind of regret now, although it hasn't been a problem since

Submitted by Storm

Hi Storm – this sounds like a scary experience for you. It’s possible this could have been a kind of focal seizure but it is hard to know for sure. Like you say epilepsy is rarely diagnosed from one seizure  and this might be a one off episode. but if it happens again you could talk to your doctor to get things checked out. I’m linking you to our webpage about diagnosing epilepsy for more information.

 

Mags

Epilepsy Action Helpline Team

Submitted by Mags - Epilepsy...

Hi Storm – this sounds like a scary experience for you. It’s possible this could have been a kind of focal seizure but it is hard to know for sure. Like you say epilepsy is rarely diagnosed from one seizure  and this might be a one off episode. but if it happens again you could talk to your doctor to get things checked out. I’m linking you to our webpage about diagnosing epilepsy for more information.

 

Mags

Epilepsy Action Helpline Team

Submitted by Mags - Epilepsy...

I have wondered for years, since I was in my 20’s ( Now in my 80’s) what these strange occurrences could be. Didn’t rule out but didn’t want to think epilepsy as symptoms were not like any I have seen. After searching I now have a name for my brainfarcts which stumped me all these years but I was too embarrassed to talk about. I take comfort in knowing that I’m not the only one who suffers from focal seizures and that they are not life threatening. Also that they are not everyday, happening sometimes years apart or other times months apart and I can still carry on with my everyday life even though they come unannounced and cause me more of an embarrassment than than a threat to my life.
I first thought they might be migraine related but after years of debilitating migraines a GP started me on a beta blocker which has been a life saver. Only in the past two years I have had a few optical migraines which led me down the path of thinking this was related to my present situation. I have the onset of the Aura that comes Moments before the Actual onset of the FS. I am aware that I am verbally not in the moment although I continue with what I thought I was talking about but the scenario of the conversation changes but I keep trying to talk and make it sound sensible but it’s totally off track. When it passes I feel rather stupid because whomever I am talking with is looking strangely at me wondering how I got off track so terribly. I feel totally drained after for about 15mins even though the FS only lasts a minute or so. Not sure on that but I can never recall what I have said although at the time of saying it I know it’s off yet it sounds like I’m making conversation. I’ve never felt the need to take it further medically. It is an intrusion although as I said not a frequent occurrence.
I am pleased that I found this site and finally can put it all together. Thank you for all the helpful explanations and advice. Whatever time I have left on this wonderful earth is made better today just by having this knowledge and understanding of this condition. I wish I had searched sooner but like everyone else I was hesitant at what a diagnosis might reveal. Now I can stop searching.

Submitted by Elizabeth Thomson

Hi, I have been suffering from anxiety for the last 3-4 years. I have recently been put back on medication after a break of 16 months. For the last year or so I have been experiencing these episodes, a friend said they might be dissociation. I suddenly feel a sensation of dejavu and frightened. I get a rushing in my ears and my mouth fills with saliva, i feel nauseous and my heart beats faster. I cant pay any attention to what's going on around me and can't talk. It lasts for a minute or two but often takes a while to feel normal again and I'm left with a headache. They seem to come in 3s over 24-48 hrs once a month or so. My memory has also been awful since they've started. Last time it happened I felt like I was going to pass out. It sounds very similar to TLE when I'm reading it. I am concerned about getting back in touch with my GP and saying I am concerned this is what's going on. How can I approach it? I think she believes it's just a symptom of anxiety.

Submitted by Jenni

Hi Jenny  - it could be worth keeping a diary of everything you’re noticing so that you can talk things through more fully with your GP. It’s important to include information about what happens before, during and after these episodes to get a full picture. You mentioned that these episodes seem to have a pattern to them. This can happen for some women so it might be worth reading our information about catamenial epilepsy as well.

 

The only way to know for sure if these symptoms could be related to epilepsy, non epilepsy seizures, anxiety or anything else is to get them checked out. You’d need to ask your GP to refer you to a neurologist who specialises in epilepsy to get an accurate diagnosis.

 

If you’d like to talk through what steps you might take you’d be welcome to talk things through with us at the Helpline. Its free and confidential to phone on 0808 800 5050.

 

Regards

Mags

Epilepsy Action Helpline Team

Submitted by Mags - Epilepsy...

Hi I was diagnosed with epilepsy via telephone consult after having a tonic clonic seizure in july 2020. I'd been having lots of deja vu episodes etc before this since Nov 2019.....which the neurologist said were partial seizures. I've heard peaple talk about care plans and epilepsy nurses....are these provided or do you have to ask for them? I'm not due for another phone consult with my neurologist until end of dec and am now having episodes of odd tingling sensations and I keep getting an overwhelming smell of cannabis in my house (but no one is smoking it in or around me or has it in the house) Are these seizure type things? Should I speak to my GP or try and contact the nuerologist? I'm on lamotrigine and having sleep jerks a lot too. I feel a bit on my own after my diagnosis and don't really know what I should do? Although this site has been really helpful.
Many thanks

Submitted by lisa jacobs

Hi Lisa – This must be a tough time for you. We know that a lot of appointments are happening over the phone at the moment and we are monitoring this. The important thing to know is that you’re not on your own and there is support and advice out there for you.

 

It can take a while to get the balance of the right medicine and the right dose for your epilepsy. And sometimes it can take a little while for seizures to settle, especially if you have been increasing your epilepsy medicine to a maintenance dose. But the aim of epilepsy medicines is to try to get as good seizure control as possible.

 

Your GP wouldn’t be able to change your treatment so it would be best to try to try to speak to your neurologist about what’s happening. It can help to keep a diary so you have a record of everything you’re noticing. To get in touch with your consultant you can contact the hospital and ask to speak to the neurology department or your consultant’s secretary.

 

If there’s an epilepsy nurse attached to your neurology department your consultant or their secretary should know how you can contact them. It’s worth knowing if there is a nurse you can talk to as well as the consultant. But not all hospitals have nurses.

 

Some people with complex epilepsies have a care plan but not everyone does. If you think it would be helpful for you to keep a record of your treatment we have a care plan you could download.

 

We have some information for people who are newly diagnosed you might find helpful. This explains some basic information about epilepsy and also has links to managing your epilepsy and support.

 

There’s a lot to take in and you must have a lot of questions. You’d be welcome to call and talk to one of us at the Helpline. We aren’t medically trained but we know a lot about epilepsy. Our number is Freephone 0808 800 5050 and we’re open 8.30 – 8pm Monday to Thursday, 8.30am to 4.30pm Friday and 10am – 4pm Saturday.

 

Regards

Mags

Epilepsy Action Helpline Team

Submitted by Mags - Epilepsy...

Hi there, my name is Claudia.
My daughter has just been diagnosed with Benign Rolandic seizures and the consultant has not started medication yet because she had two seizures 4 months apart. However she had another seizure after only 3weeks from the last one. This one was about 3minutes and I wonder whether they are changing.
Can I ask if seizures of this type are damaging her brain?
Many thanks for your answer.

Submitted by Claudia Marota

Hi Claudia

You must be concerned about your daughter and the seizures she's had recently.

Seizures can change and it can take a little time to establish the pattern of someone's seizures with childhood epilepsy with centro-temporal spikes (benign rolandic epilepsy). So it is worth keeping a record and talking to your daughter's consultant about ongoing treatment. 

Some people can have longer seizures and if your daughter's seizures are frequent her consultant may suggest medicines.

Its unlikely though that these seizures are causing damage to your daughter's brain at the moment. But it might be best to talk over your concerns with your daughter's consultant. 

There's a link here to our information about childhood epilepsy with centro-temporal spikes which may be helpful as well: https://www.epilepsy.org.uk/info/syndromes/benign-rolandic-epilepsy 

You'd be welcome to call us at the Helpline if there's anything you'd like to talk through. Our number is 0808 800 5050 and we're open We are open 8.30 – 8pm Monday to Thursday, 8.30am to 4.30pm Friday and 10am – 4pm Saturday.

Regards

Mags 

Epilepsy Action Helpline Team

Submitted by Mags - Epilepsy...

If my seizure started from grand mal for 8 years then turned into focal, does that mean I'm getting better, a little bit? I'm 48 y/o now.

Submitted by MB

Hi MB

It's good to hear your grand mal seizures have stopped. It's a sign that the epileptic activity in your brain has reduced. If you are on epilepsy medicine it could be the medicine is stopping some of the acitivity but not quiet all of it.

As you are still having focal seizures, are you being seen by an epilepsy specialist so they can review your treatment and look at other possible reasons for your focal seizures to still be happening? They may suggest alterng the dosage of your epilepsy medicine or trying a different epilepsy medicine to fully control the acitivty.

If we can be of any more help, please feel free to contact our helpline Team directly. You can either email helpline@epilepsy.org.uk or phone the Epilepsy Helpline freephone 0808 800 5050. We are open Monday to Friday 8.30am until 5.30pm.


Regards

Diane

Helpline Team

Submitted by Diane - Epileps...

Hi everyone, I have been experiencing the rising feeling in my stomach, and I have tingling all over with burning sensation sometimes as well, pauses in breathing, foggy eyes, and slow heart rate episodes. I have cramping and weakness in my muscles afterward every time pretty much. Does anyone else experience this? Does it sound like seizures?
They happen all the time and I can feel it coming on and know that it has happened before. I do have really bad migraines as well.

Submitted by Shellie
Hi Shellie
 
Thank you for your question. This sounds like an unpleasant experience.
 
If your symptoms are related to epilepsy, it could be some type of focal seizure. In these seizures the epileptic activity starts in just a part of your brain. You may remain alert during this type of seizure, or you may not be aware of what is happening around you. You may have movements that you can’t control, or unusual sensations or feelings. Focal seizures can be very brief or last for minutes.
 
It's best to get a medical diagnosis for your symptons. There are a number of medical conditions that can cause symptoms similar to epilepsy. If you haven’t already, it would be best to talk to your epilepsy specialist regarding this. 
 
If you don't already have a diagnosis of epilepsy, talk to your family doctor, If they thinks it could be epilepsy, they should refer you to an epilepsy specialist for a diagnosis.  This would usually be to a neurologist. The ideal would be to someone with a specialist interest in epilepsy, as there are many different neurological conditions, and neurologists tend to specialise in different ones.
 
If you would like to discuss this with our helpline team, our helpline is freephone 0808 800 5050. Our helpline is open Monday to Thursday 8.30am until 8.00pm, Friday 8.30am until 4.30pm and Saturday 10.00am until 4.00pm.

 
Regards
Diane 
Helpline team
Submitted by Diane - Epileps...

i wonder why days & days later after my seizure do i still feel so lost confused & not right?

Submitted by shannan
Hi
 
It can be normal to feel tired, unwell or confused after a seizure. And the length of time it takes to recover can be different for different people. 
 
But if the way you're feeling at the moment is unusual for you, or its taking longer than normal to recover, it would be a good idea to get in touch with your epilepsy specialist, epilepsy nurse (if you have one) or your GP for advice. 
 
If this isn't possible for you and you're not sure what to do, you can contact NHS 111 for advice: https://www.england.nhs.uk/urgent-emergency-care/nhs-111
 
Regards
 
Jess
Epilepsy Action Helpline Team
Submitted by Jess - Epilepsy...

I’m fairly certain my symptoms align with focal seizures without awareness... or narcolepsy. I haven’t gone to my doctor for testing because I need to be able to drive my vehicle to get myself to work every day. Until doctors are satisfied the condition is controlled, licenses are often suspended.
Before anyone points out the dangers of driving with seizures, I have never had one of my episodes come on unannounced. I have always experienced an aura, and can sometimes fight it.
Starting about 15 years ago, I noticed after a period of only getting a few hours of sleep each night, that I almost seem to be nodding off at my desk. The “sleep attacks”, as I have been calling them, usually start or are triggered when i’m doing reading and typing on a computer (and also sleep deprived). I get that rising feeling that’s been described, and also an overwhelming feeling like I am falling asleep or have taken a sedative of some sort. I literally can’t focus another minute. Next thing I know, I have that falling sensation and jerk “awake” like a kid who has fallen asleep sitting up in his car seat. I focus my eyes and look around, wondering if I just fell asleep and how long I was out for. After a few days of this, I set up my phone to record me at my desk. I watched and saw my eyes unfocus, my face muscle tone go quite slack and it looks like i’m still trying to type. My eyes go quite lazy and are clearly on the verge of rolling back, when I will jerk and give my head a shake and try to focus and then it happens again. Eventually after a couple almost sleeps, the feeling passes. It might come back in five or 10 minutes though and happen a couple more times. Some days I have felt that sensation of falling asleep upwards of 20 times in an afternoon. If I am trying to continue working without drawing attention, I will still get up and go get something from the file room. It will begin happening as I’m walking and sometimes I almost fall because I slip out of awareness for a split second or two and no longer see anything but I can continue moving my body as I had been.. I catch myself midstep, and continue walking… But it is really weird feeling like you’re falling asleep while you’re walking down the hallway.
If I am in a meeting, we’re having a discussion with a superior, I will take a finger and poke into my leg or ribs as hard as I can. I can also pinch myself. The pain signals are enough to keep the event at bay, at least until I am out of the situation with a superior, driving, going downstairs, or anything unsafe.
Usually, I will lie down as soon as I have an opportunity at home. I can then sleep for a long time and usually feel better when I wake up. I am leaning more towards a seizure disorder rather than narcolepsy, as on my recorded video, I do see that I am continuing to work, though I’m not really getting much done. Also, I have had this happen when i’m writing on paper with a pen... then looked down about 10 minutes or so after the event is over and the fogginess is gone. My writing has indeed continued, and I have still taken notes, but I can’t read any of them as I wrote all of them without being able to see the paper. The writing is completely illegible. I’m hesitant, as I’ve already explained with driving restrictions, about pursuing an official diagnosis. I’m not sure doctors would be comfortable with self management without medication. My events are somewhat rare, usually happening when I am overtired… Though when they do occur, they are persistent on and off until I am able to get sleep.
I feel that with a diligent self-care approach, and recognizing that the aura is our preceding one of these attacks, I can keep myself safe with this condition. The medication‘s are quite scary with their side effects, and the way that they alter brain chemistry. If it’s something that isn’t posing a significant health risk to me, I’m very cautious and apprehensive about medicating. I’m sure there are others who have these concerns. I understand, if I were blocking out for minutes at a time or unable to control their onset, or having convulsions and dropping, I would definitely not suggest self managing without medication. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Submitted by Jen

Dear Jen

Thank you for you comment. 

As we're not medically trained, we're not able to say if your symptoms might be epilepsy or something else. Only an epilepsy specialist would be able to determine whether your experience is related to epilepsy. I’m linking you to our website information about diagnosing epilepsy in case this is helpful to you.

It’s understandable that you are concerned that you might have to stop driving if you speak to your doctor. The driving rules say that you should ask your doctor if your blackouts, fainting or loss of consciousness affect your driving. And that if you have a seizure of any kind you have to stop driving and let DVLA know. Many people with epilepsy get a warning before their seizures but the DVLA would not consider them safe to drive until they have been seizure free for a period of time. This is because warnings are not always reliable, and often it would not be possible to come to a safe stop before losing awareness. 

If you had an accident while driving and the police found out you were having blackouts or possible seizures you could be prosecuted. And your insurance is unlikely to cover you

On the positive side, if you tell your doctor they might help you finding out what is going on and what kind of treatment might be helpful. If your doctor thinks that your symptoms affect your driving you might be able to start driving again later on when you meet driving rules.

If you are diagnosed with epilepsy and have to stop driving, you can apply for free bus travel and disabled persons railcard to help with travel to work. 

Epilepsy medicine, like any other medicine can have side effects, but this is individual. Some people have some side effects and some have none. It also might be worth knowing that epilepsy medicine is the most common treatment for epilepsy. And most people with epilepsy get seizure control with epilepsy medicine. 

But it sounds like that first you might need to find out what your symptoms are related to. I’m also linking you to Narcolepsy UK in case this is helpful to you.

I hope this information helps. But if we can be of any more help, please feel free to contact us again, either by email or the Epilepsy Action Helpline freephone 0808 800 5050. Our helpline is open Monday to Thursday 8.30am until 7.00pm, Friday 8.30am until 4.30pm and Saturday 10.00am until 4.00pm.

Regards

Tove

Submitted by Tove-Epilepsy Action

Hi,
I have had epilepsy for 31years, that I know of. I'm 38. I was seizure free (for the most part) for the last year, I thought I had gotten lucky. But then friday I had 2 gran mals and today I have had 6 focals in the last 9 hours. This is what it used to be like. I have had my veegs, eegs, mri's, ct's, etc. Now have to go for another round of everything. My question is, is it abnormal to have so many focals or partials? (It's not uncommon for me when my seizures are active) But is it 'bad' that I have about 1-3 an hour sometimes and by the end of the day it feels like i have done nothing but live in panic and fear? Do a lot of people have them that often? (I'm on vimpat, fycompa, ativan) Thinking about RNS

Submitted by Danielle

Hi Danielle, this must be upsetting for you especially after being mostly seizure free for a year. We know that epilepsy is individual and patterns of seizures can vary so much. Some people have clusters of focal seizures. So this is a possible pattern for seizures, though we don't know exactly how common this is. 

 

Clusters of focal seizures aren't 'bad' in the sense that they aren't usually considered to be a medical emergency or an increased risk for SUDEP. But they can still impact on your safety and wellbeing as you mentioned.  

 

I hope this review of your epilepsy can offer some way forwards for you. I'm also linking you to our information about getting the right treatment so you can check this is happening for you. 

 

As yet Responsive neurotransmitter therapy (RNS) isn't available in the UK through the NHS. I'm not sure how far you've got in your research but I'm linking you to the Epilepsy Foundation in America's information about RNS. There's also a link here to our full information about treatment in case there's anything helpful for you there. 

 

Regards

Mags

Epilepsy Action Helpline Team

Submitted by Mags - Epilepsy...

I have been spacing out a lot lately. I have ADHD and autism. But when I zone out I'm aware of what's going on and I wanna move to do what I'm supposed to be doing in that moment but I can't. I can't move,I can't respond no matter how bad I want to during that time. Like I'll usually stop dead in my tracks whenever it's talking to someone,doing something like baking or cooking,watching TV or trying to pay attention in class. I take meds for my ADHD but I still don't know if it's just my ADHD or if It's a focal seizure. While I was even reading this I spaced out. They spacing out usually last for about 10 to 30 seconds and after I just can't focus whatsoever. Whatever people say just goes in one ear and out the other and I can't get my school work done even if I wanted to. If you could reply that would be great :) Have a great day and night :)

Submitted by Ray
Dear Ray 
 
Thank you for your question. Your symptoms sounds like a very confusing and disruptive thing to experience. 
 
As you are aware of these symptoms, if it is epilepsy, it could be some type of focal seizure https://www.epilepsy.org.uk/info/seizures/focal-partial

We know children with epilepsy can also have ADHD and children with ADHD can have epilepsy. But as a number of medical conditions can cause symptoms similar to epilepsy it would be best to get a medical diagnosis for your symptoms. 
 
If your doctor thinks it could be epilepsy, they should refer you to an epilepsy specialist for a diagnosis. This would usually be at to a neurologist. The ideal would be to someone with a specialist interest in epilepsy, as there are many different conditions, and neurologist tend to specialise in different ones.
 
Or if you see a specialist for your ADHD you could talk to them regarding your concerns. 
 
Here is a link to our information on diagnosing epilepsy Diagnosing epilepsy | Epilepsy Action
 
If we can be of any more help, please feel free to contact us again. You can contact our helpline team directly, either by email helpline@epilepsy.org.uk or the Epilepsy Action Helpline freephone 0808 800 5050. Our helpline is open Monday to Thursday 8.30am until 7.00pm, Friday 8.30am until 4.30pm and Saturday 10.00am until 4.00pm.
Regards
Diane


Submitted by Diane - Epileps...

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