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An epileptic seizure, occasionally referred to as a fit, is defined as a transient symptom of "abnormal excessive or synchronous neuronal activity in the brain".[1] The outward effect can be as dramatic as a wild thrashing movement (tonic-clonic seizure) or as mild as a brief loss of awareness. It can manifest as an alteration in mental state, tonic or clonic movements, convulsions, and various other psychic symptoms (such as déjà vu or jamais vu). Sometimes it is not accompanied by convulsions but a full body "slump", where the person simply will lose control of their body and slump to the ground. The medical syndrome of recurrent, unprovoked seizures is termed epilepsy, but seizures can occur in people who do not have epilepsy.

About 4% of people will have an unprovoked seizure by the age of 80 and the chance of experiencing a second seizure is between 30% and 50%.[2][3] Treatment may reduce the chance of a second one by as much as half.[3] Most single episode seizures are managed by primary care physicians (emergency or general practitioners), whereas investigation and management of ongoing epilepsy is usually by neurologists. Difficult-to-manage epilepsy may require consultation with an epileptologist, a neurologist with an interest in epilepsy.



Seizure types are organized according to whether the source of the seizure within the brain is localized (partial or focal onset seizures) or distributed (generalized seizures). Partial seizures are further divided on the extent to which consciousness is affected (simple partial seizures and complex partial seizures). If consciousness is unaffected, then it is a simple partial seizure; otherwise it is a complex partial seizure. A partial seizure may spread within the brain—a process known as secondary generalization. Generalized seizures are divided according to the effect on the body, but all involve loss of consciousness. These include absence, myoclonic, clonic, tonic, tonic–clonic, and atonic seizures. A mixed seizure is defined as the existence of both generalized and partial seizures in the same patient.[4]

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