In this type, the whole of the brain is involved and consciousness is lost. The seizure may then take one of the following forms:

Generalized Tonic Clonic Convulsive Seizure (GTCS): The most dramatic form is the GTCS (still sometimes called a `grand mal’ seizure) in which the person becomes rigid, and may fall if standing. The muscles then relax and tighten rhythmically causing the person to convulse. Breathing is laboured and they may be incontinent.

Other types of generalized seizures include:

  • Tonic in which there is general stiffening of muscles without rhythmical jerking. The person may fall to the ground if standing with consequent risk injury.
  • Atonic (also known as drop attacks) in which there is a sudden loss of muscle tone, again causing the person to fall if standing.
  • Myoclonic in which abrupt jerking of the limbs occurs. These often happen within a short time of waking up, either on their own or in company with other forms of generalized seizure.
  • Absences in which there is a brief interruption of consciousness without any other signs, except perhaps for a fluttering of the eyelids. These occur most commonly in children and are still sometimes known as “petit mal”.

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