Tonic-Clonic Convulsion (grand mal)*

The person loses consciousness suddenly, sometimes with a cry, and the body stiffens into tonic extensor rigidity. Breathing stops and the person becomes cyanotic. A clonic phase of rhythmic muscular contraction follows. Breathing resumes and is often noisy, with excessive salivation. Injury, tongue biting, and urinary incontinence may occur.

Confusion, drowsiness, fatigue, headache, muscular aching, and sometimes the temporary persistence of bilateral neurologic deficits such as hyperactive reflexes and Babinski responses. The person has amnesia for the seizure and recalls no aura.


A sudden brief lapse of consciousness, with momentary blinking, staring, or movements of the lips and hands but no falling. Two subtypes are recognized. Petit mal absences last less than 10 sec and stop abruptly. Atypical absences may last more than 10 sec.

No aura recalled. In petit mal absences, a prompt return to normal; in atypical absences, some postictal confusion

Atonic Seizure, or Drop Attack

Sudden loss of consciousness with falling but no movements. Injury may occur.

Either a prompt return to normal or a brief period of confusion


Sudden, brief, rapid jerks, involving the trunk or limbs. Associated with a variety of disorders


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