Many people diagnosed with epilepsy, or the parents of children diagnosed with it, have a lot of questions. One of the more common questions has to do with the symptoms of the condition, particularly the seizures experienced. In particular, the question is "what are simple partial seizures?"
The answer is significant because it allows the individual to better understand just what is going on inside of their brain during any seizure activity. Though epilepsy is often simplified and summarized as a neurological condition in which neurons and brain activity are a bit out of balance, causing seizures, it is a bit more complex.
For instance, seizures occur during disturbances to normal brain activity, and that activity is characterized by the electrical signals of the nerve cells. Yet, the brain is full of these cells, and when someone with epilepsy experiences a simple partial seizure, they are experiencing seizure activity on only a single side of the brain. They are also experiencing it in a very specific part of the brain.
Why Simple Partial Seizures Occur
What causes around 12% of children with epilepsy, as well as many adults with the condition to experience this type of seizure? It is important to note that experiencing one or two such seizures does not mean you have epilepsy. As the experts at Medical News Today explain, "If a person experiences repeated simple partial seizures, a doctor might diagnose them with epilepsy, which is continued seizures."
The causes of simple partial seizures range from TBI (traumatic brain injury) as the result of an accident and scarring on the brain. The same can be said of a stroke, which can also leave scar tissue that disrupts electrical signaling in the brain and even tumors. Some with diabetes have these seizures, and of course, people born with epilepsy may experience the simple partial seizure on a recurring basis.
What is a Simple Partial Seizure Like?
As indicated, most who undergo a simple partial seizure will not lose consciousness, however, the specific symptoms and the ways that the seizure manifests may vary based on where in the brain it occurs. In general, there will be sensory, motor, psychic and even autonomic symptoms.
What this means is that muscle activity may be affected, the individual may suffer issues with their sense of smell, hearing or vision. They may even hallucinate or feel numbness. There can be emotional changes such as anxiety or a strong sense of déjà vu, and it is even possible for the blood pressure, heart rate, and other uncontrollable functions to be affected.
However, some of the most common signs seem to include the individual finding it very difficult to focus their attention, experiencing a problem in their vision and speech, numbness, anxiety and difficulty moving the body and/or the eyes.
Unfortunately, a simple partial seizure may simply be a foreshadowing of a different sort of seizure about to occur, such as a more generalized seizure that does cause loss of consciousness and other issues. The typical simple partial seizure, though, is over in around two minutes or less.
If seizure activity exceeds five minutes in total, it is a medical emergency and must be treated that way, whether or not the individual is diagnosed as epileptic or with other conditions.