What is focal seizures?

Focal seizures

An epileptic seizure is the body and brain's response to sudden bursts of abnormal electrical activity in the brain. A focal seizure is an epileptic seizure that begins in a small area of the brain.

There are three types of focal seizures:

  • Focal aware seizures (sometimes called simple partial seizures). These seizures briefly disrupt a person's speech, movement, vision, or sense of smell or taste but do not affect a person's level of consciousness.
  • Focal impaired awareness seizures (sometimes called complex partial seizures). This type of seizure alters a person's level of consciousness and makes the person stare into space. The person may notice a strange smell, taste, or feeling (aura) at the beginning of a seizure.
  • Focal to bilateral tonic-clonic (sometimes called partial seizures with secondary generalization). These seizures begin like the other types of focal seizures but then spread (generalize) to the rest of the brain. This leads to epileptic seizures (tonic-clonic seizures) in which the person's muscles stiffen and jerk.

Focal seizures are the most common type of seizure in adults. They can often be controlled with medicine or surgery.

How is focal epilepsy treated?

Drug therapy is the usual treatment for focal seizures for both adults and children. Surgery that removes the affected area of the brain is also an option for some people who have focal seizures.

What causes focal epilepsy?

The seizures of focal epilepsy do not always have a known cause. But they often result from severe head injury, stroke, brain tumor, brain infections, scar tissue, and other diseases that affect the brain.

These same conditions may also cause focal seizures in children. But the cause of focal seizures in children is more often unknown. These seizures are often a form of benign focal childhood epilepsy, which has no known cause.

What is focal epilepsy?

Epilepsy that causes focal seizures is sometimes called focal epilepsy, because the seizures start at a specific focus or location within the brain. In people with this type of disorder, the electrical charges that cause seizures begin in a specific area in the brain, although more of the brain may become affected during the seizure.

Epilepsy that causes focal seizures is the most common type of epilepsy in adults.

©2011-2024 Healthwise, Incorporated

The content above contains general health information provided by Healthwise, Incorporated, and reviewed by its medical experts. This content should not replace the advice of your healthcare provider. Not all treatments or services described are offered as services by us. For recommended treatments, please consult your healthcare provider.