What Are Focal Seizures?

Focal seizures may cause individuals to experience uncontrollable facial movements.
Focal seizures may cause blurred vision.
Focal seizures may cause individuals to experience dizziness and confusion.
Focal seizures may occur when an individual is sleeping.
Head injuries may cause focal seizures.
Long-term alcohol abuse may cause focal seizures.
An EEG may be conducted by a doctor to test for abnormal electrical activity in a patient's brain.
Article Details
  • Written By: D. Jeffress
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 23 October 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2014
    Conjecture Corporation
  • Print this Article

Focal seizures affect a small area of the brain, while generalized seizures affect the entire brain. Also called partial seizures, focal seizures are classified as either simple or complex, depending on whether or not a person is conscious during the episode. A seizure can happen unexpectedly to anyone, though it is most common in people who suffer from congenital epilepsy, recent head trauma, or strokes. Some symptoms of focal seizures include uncontrollable facial movements, abnormal tingling or numbing sensations, or muscle twitches.

A simple focal seizure is one during which the person remains aware of what is happening. Mixed-up electrical signals in a limited area of the brain cause muscle spasms on one or both sides of the body, strange facial movements or tics, numbness, and blurry vision. An individual might start to feel nauseated, dizzy, and confused. Episodes can further lead to hallucinations, increased heart rate, changes in smell or hearing, and speaking difficulties.

Complex focal seizures involve a lapse in consciousness and memory during or after an episode. An individual may black out during a seizure, and be unable to recall exactly what happened. In most cases, a complex focal seizure follows a simple seizure. An episode can happen while sleeping or while awake, and many people report that their seizures generate feelings of déjà vu. Both simple and complex seizures can last anywhere from just a few seconds to around five minutes.

Ad

It is possible for people to experience only one simple or complex focal seizure in their lifetimes, without any warning or understood medical reason. Individuals who have congenital epilepsy, head injuries, strokes, or brain tumors suffer from multiple focal seizures over time. Bacterial and viral infections can also lead to seizures, and people with meningitis and encephalitis are at an especially high risk of epileptic attacks. Short- or long-term drug and alcohol abuse affects chemicals and electrical signals in the brain, which can sometimes cause focal seizures.

Medical evaluation and treatment is very important after a person experiences a focal seizure. A doctor usually conducts an electroencephalogram (EEG) test to check for abnormal electrical activity in the brain. During the EEG test, specialists attach several small electrodes to the scalp to record electrical signals and represent accurate readings on a computer screen. EEG results, along with other medical imaging scans and blood tests, can help doctors determine the cause of seizures along with the best ways to prevent future episodes.

Many people are prescribed medication to help control and prevent their epilepsy. Infections are usually treated with antibiotics, and brain tumors may need to be surgically removed. In addition, anyone can help to preserve brain health and lessen the risk of seizures by abstaining from drugs, getting plenty of sleep, exercising regularly, and maintaining a good diet.

Ad

More from Wisegeek

You might also Like

Discuss this Article

anon293737
Post 6

My wife is having focus seizures at least four times a day. It is very frightening and I have no idea what to do except give her peanut butter. Can anyone help?

anon276223
Post 5

I have what I thought were called focal tremors now and then. I will get a numbness in my bottom front teeth on the right hand side like someone has pressure on 4 or 5 teeth. I also get a tingle in the front of my tongue. I had a huge tumor removed and a stroke while getting it done.

I never know when this will happen. Sometimes it never goes into a tremor that disorders my face. I will get the warning signs. I am on two types of pills that are helping.

anon181576
Post 4

I have been diagnosed with having focal seizures. It starts with a very strange feeling of deja vu and and overwhelming feeling comes over me. When it ends, I gag as if I'm going to vomit.

I haven't had one since becoming pregnant with my daughter and have been seizure free for almost a year but still have to hand my licence in to dvla.

rosoph
Post 3

My father has a focal seizure every so often. They started after he had a stroke about 19 years ago. The weirdest thing is that he acts very strange the day before, and the day of, one of these seizures. He gets very intense, and extremely irritable in ways that don't even make sense.

It's never a surprise when he has one of these seizures, because we can always tell when one is coming due to this strange behavior.

I wonder if anyone else experiences seizure symptoms like these?

elizabeth2
Post 2

I always thought that epileptic seizures were the only kind there are. It's kind of scary that a seizure can happen to anyone without any warning at all. I can't even imagine what would happen if someone had a seizure for the first time while doing something like driving, or even flying an airplane. It's a pretty scary thought!

reader888
Post 1

I had a seizure once, and no one could figure out why -- maybe, just one of those mysteries of health. But I was put on medication for a seizure disorder, which I do not have.

I no longer take the medication, and have never had a seizure since. Sometimes a seizure really can be a one time only, unexplainable thing.

Post your comments

Post Anonymously

Login

username
password
forgot password?

Register

username
password
confirm
email