How can you identify a seizure?

The most commonly recognized symptom of a seizure is uncontrolled shaking of the entire body. Sometimes the affected individual may become unresponsive for a short period of time (usually about a minute).

Unexplained blanking out for a short period of time can be due to a seizure.

But, a seizure can produce almost any kind of symptom.

Here are the common symptoms that you might get with a seizure/Aura:
1. A bad odor. It may be foul (e.g. smelling of feces) or too sweet
2. A bad taste. E.g. he taste of blood, a metallic taste, a bitter taste.
3. Extreme fear or anxiety
4. Deja-vu feeling: an intense feeling of “It happened to me before, I was here before”.
5. Sudden nausea and urge to vomit
6. A strange feeling of something rising suddenly from the belly and moving towards the head.
7. Difficult in talking or understanding other people
8. Twitching of one side of the face or just one arm/leg.
9. A tingling feeling in the face, arm or legs

Here are some slightly uncommon symptoms:
1. Extreme happiness or sadness
2. Dizziness
3. Intense urge to go to the bathroom
4. Hearing strange sounds such as bells ringing or people talking
5. Seeing strange things such as dots or lines of light, or rarely people
6. A feeling of floating outside your own body and looking at yourself
7. A feeling of being one with nature, or being one with God.

Characteristics of seizures:

Sometimes it is difficult to identify a seizure especially if the patient is not able to describe his/her symptoms well. But seizures have a few typical characteristics that help in their identification:

1. They occur suddenly and without any reason: Most seizures happen without a clear provocation. If your boss shouts at you and you get terribly anxious, that is unlikely to be a seizure! But if you are calmly watching TV, or working in peace and suddenly experience a unique feeling – such as a bad smell or terrible fear – then you may be having a seizure.

2. Patients may bite their tongue or lose control over their bladder or bowels: Patients often bite the side of their tongue during a big seizure. Although not life-threatening, a tongue bite may bleed profusely and can be quite painful.

3. They usually last between 1-2 minutes: For example, pain, fear or sadness throughout the day is unlikely to be due to a seizure.

4. The patient is often confused for 15 min – 1 hour after regaining consciousness: After a big seizure, the patient is often confused and may have difficulty with thinking and memory. Sometimes this confusion can last for many hours.

None of these criteria is perfect. Some seizures can be precipitated by flashing lights, and sometimes seizures happening multiple times in the day may give the impression that the patient’s symptoms are constant.

Sometimes, (for example, absence seizures) the patient may be completely normal as soon as the seizure ends.

If you have trouble remembering your symptoms, then you should keep a diary and write a detailed description of the events, as soon as they happen.

That is why it is important to remember these symptoms and provide a detailed history to the doctor. When there are enough clues to suggest that the symptoms are due to seizures, the doctor can take appropriate measures for confirmation of the diagnosis.