Is a Partial Seizure?
The human brain works by sending electrical signals through neurons, which are nerve cells. A
seizure occurs when there’s a surge in this electrical activity. This causes a
host of physical symptoms, such as muscle contractions, visual disturbances,
and blackouts. Seizures can affect the entire brain. A partial seizure is when
a seizure occurs in just one area.
A partial seizure may occur for many reasons, including epilepsy,
brain tumors or infections, heat stroke, or low blood sugar. A seizure can’t be
treated and must run its course. Diagnosing and treating the underlying cause
can help reduce the number of partial seizures. Most people who experience
seizures are able to live normal lives with appropriate treatment.
A seizure is the result of experiencing a surge of electrical
activity in the brain. The electrical disturbance can produce a variety of
physical symptoms. This is especially true with a partial seizure, which is a
seizure that is focused in just one part of the brain. This is also called
a focal seizure, but
it can change into a generalized
seizure, which affects the entire brain.
There are two types of partial seizures.
Simple Partial Seizure
You won’t lose consciousness during a simple partial seizure, and
it will last for a minute or less. You’ll remember what happened after the
seizure passes. Simple seizures can sometimes cause you to feel fearful or
Complex Partial Seizure
You may lose consciousness during a complex partial seizure, and
you won’t remember what happened. A complex seizure can last for a minute or
two, and you may feel a warning sign such as a feeling of uneasiness or nausea
before the seizure. You may feel sleepy and confused after the seizure.
Causes Partial Seizures?
There are many different conditions and situations that can cause
seizures of any type. Sometimes, the cause is never discovered. A seizure
without a known cause is called an idiopathic seizure.
Some of the possible causes of partial seizures are:
- liver or kidney failure
- very high blood pressure
- use of illegal drugs
- brain infections, such as meningitis
- brain and head injuries
- congenital brain defects, which are brain
defects that occur before birth
- poisoning or venomous bites or stings
- heat stroke
- low blood sugar
- withdrawal from drugs or alcohol
- phenylketonuria, which is a genetic disorder
that causes brain damage and mental disability
Are the Symptoms of a Partial Seizure?
Because a partial seizure affects just one part of the brain, the
symptoms vary depending on the particular event. For instance, if the
disturbance is in the part of your brain that affects vision, you may have
hallucinations or see bright lights.
Other possible symptoms of partial seizures include:
- muscle contractions, followed by relaxation
- contractions on just one side of your body
- unusual head or eye movements
- numbness, tingling, or a feeling that something
is crawling on your skin
- abdominal pain
- rapid heart rate or pulse
- automatisms (repetitive movements), such as
picking at clothes or skin, staring, lip smacking, and chewing or swallowing
- flushed face
- dilated pupils, vision changes, or
- mood changes
Are Partial Seizures Diagnosed?
A seizure itself isn’t difficult to diagnose. Your doctor can
diagnose a seizure after listening to your description of your experience or
the symptoms other people observed. Of more concern and more difficulty is
determining the underlying cause. Depending upon your symptoms and your medical
history, your doctor may run any number of tests, such as brain imaging scans,
blood tests, or a spinal tap to find out the cause of your seizures.
Are the Treatments for Partial Seizures?
A partial seizure can’t be treated as it’s happening. It must
simply run its course while the person having the event is kept safe. Your
doctor may, however, be able to treat the cause of seizures. If seizures are
recurring, you may be given a medication to prevent them.
If someone is having a seizure of any type, it’s helpful to keep
other people and objects out of the way until the seizure is over. The muscle
contractions can cause the person having the seizure to lash out and hurt
themselves. Clearing the area of objects and people reduces the risk of injury.
There’s nothing that can be done to stop or speed up the episode.
Can You Prevent Partial Seizures?
You can’t always prevent seizures, but you can control them with
medications. If you’re on a medication for this purpose, take it as instructed
by your doctor and don’t miss doses. Maintain a healthy lifestyle by getting
plenty of sleep, eating healthy foods, exercising, and minimizing stress.
Is the Long-Term Outlook for People Who Experience Partial Seizures?
The outlook for someone who has had a partial seizure varies
depending on the underlying cause. In general, however, you can control seizures
effectively with medications and lifestyle changes. Surgery is only a
consideration for very severe, intractable cases in which medical treatment doesn’t