Seizures are characterized by the sudden onset of involuntary movements or changes in sensation, awareness, and behavior due to abnormal firing of groups of brain cells. When a person has epilepsy, it can be very uncomfortable. Fortunately, it may not cause severe symptoms or long-term problems. Sometimes seizures can occur hours, weeks, or months apart, but they also happen independently. Early Warning Signs and Symptoms can include:
Staring commonly occurs during the initial stage of a seizure. It is characterized by staring with arms and legs rigid and in the air. It is a relatively common symptom but is often mistaken for something else. It is also the main symptom of an absence seizure.
2. Jerking movements of the arms and legs
These occur during the onset of the seizure. They are characterized by sudden, involuntary flinging or jerking motions of one or both hands, arms, legs, or feet. Sometimes just one body part may jump and other times more than one might jump at a time. Sometimes these movements are associated with loss of consciousness.
3. Stiffening of the body
Becoming very stiff is another symptom of seizures. This stiffening may be mistaken for life-threatening health issues like cardiopulmonary arrest, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, heart attack, and other cardiac-related problems. Stiffening can be uncomfortable and is often associated with loss of consciousness.
4. Loss of consciousness
Sometimes, the person loses awareness or consciousness for a brief period. A person having an absence seizure may appear perplexed for a moment, have staring spells, or repeat certain motions repeatedly. In most cases, there are no warning signs that someone is about to have a seizure, but the loss of consciousness can give clues that someone is having one or is in danger of having one.
5. Breathing problems or stopping breathing
Seizures may cause respiratory problems in many people. If a person suddenly has trouble breathing or stops breathing, they should seek medical attention immediately. After an attack has lasted more than a few minutes, it may be impossible to tell whether the person will have trouble breathing again.
6. Loss of bowel or bladder control
When seizures are caused by the brain’s temporal lobe or near the area where the brain and spinal cord meet it can cause temporary bowel or bladder control loss. This symptom is often mistaken for a urinary tract infection and can be dangerous to someone with a history of seizures who might not have experienced one in many years.