Simple Partial Seizures

A partial (focal) seizure happens when unusual electrical activity affects a small area of the brain. When the seizure does not affect awareness, it is known as a simple partial seizure.

Simple partial seizures can be:

  • Motor - affecting the muscles of the body
  • Sensory - affecting the senses
  • Autonomic - affecting automatically controlled functions
  • Psychic - affecting feelings or thoughts

Simple focal seizures are also known as auras.

Symptoms

Symptoms of simple partial seizures are:

  • Muscle tightening
  • Unusual head movements
  • Blank stares
  • Eyes moving from side to side
  • Numbness
  • Tingling
  • Skin crawling (like ants crawling on the skin)
  • Hallucinations- seeing, smelling, or hearing things that are not there
  • Pain or discomfort
  • Nausea
  • Sweating
  • Flushed face
  • Dilated pupils
  • Rapid heart rate/pulse
  • Changes in vision
  • Feeling déjà vu (feeling like current place and time have been experienced before)
  • Changes in mood or emotion
  • Unable to speak for a short while


Causes and Risk Factors

The cause of seizures is often unknown.

Certain diseases involving the blood vessels of the brain can raise the risk of focal seizures in patients 65 years of age and older.

Treatments

For many people with simple partial seizures, correct treatment can lower or prevent seizures. In some cases, patients may not have any more seizures for the rest of their life.

Partial and generalized seizures are often treated differently. Treatment is based on:

  • The type of seizure
  • How often seizures happen
  • How severe the seizures are
  • The patient's age
  • The patient's overall health
  • The patient's medical history

Anti-seizure (or anti-epileptic) medications can be very helpful. It may take a few tries to get the right medication and dose. The doctor will watch for side effects to find the best treatment.

Surgery may be an option if medication can't control the seizures.

Certain lifestyle changes may also be used:

  • Special high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet (ketogenic diet)
  • Getting plenty of sleep
  • Avoiding certain triggers, such as flickering lights

The staff at the Cedars-Sinai Epilepsy Program will work with each patient to determine the best treatment option.