Stages Of A Seizure

There is a beginning, middle and end to a seizure. Between each one, there are stages that demonstrate what happens during each phase and the symptoms that are go along with it.


In the beginning of a seizure, some people may experience a warning sign before the seizure. It can be days or weeks before it occurs. On the other hand, the warning sign can happen just before the seizure begins. Some others may not experience no warning sign at all. 

  1. Prodrome: A few hours or days before a seizure, some people may experience feelings, sensations, or have a change in behavior. They are not usually a part of the seizure, but it can alert the person that a seizure can be coming soon. You can take measures to prevent serious injury, take your medications, and change your activities.
  2. Aura: An aura or a warning sign is the first part of a seizure. It is usually hard for the individual to describe to others. On some occasions, it can be easy to recognize and may constitute as a change in feeling, sensation, thought, or behavior that is the same each time a seizure starts. 
    • The aura can occur by itself and thus, it is called a simple partial seizure or a partial seizure without a change in awareness. 
    • An aura can happen before an alteration in awareness or consciousness. 
    • Other times, many people do not have an aura. 
  3. Symptoms before a seizure:

Awareness, Sensory, Emotional, or Thought Changes:

  • Déjà vu (a feeling of being there but never have).
  • Jamais vu (a feeling that something is very familiar but it isn’t).
  • Smells.
  • Sounds. 
  • Tastes.
  • Visual loss or blurriness.
  • Strange feelings.
  • Fear or panic (often negative or scary feelings).
  • Pleasant feelings.
  • Racing thoughts.

Physical Changes:

  • Feeling dizzy or lightheaded.
  • Headaches.
  • Nausea or other stomach feelings (often a rising feeling from the stomach to the throat).
  • Numbness or tingling in part of the body.


The middle of a seizure is also referred to as the ictal phase. It’s the time between the first symptoms of the episode to the end of it. 

Common symptoms during the middle of a seizure.

Awareness, Sensory, Emotional, or Thought Changes:

  • Loss of awareness (often called “black out”).
  • Confused or feeling spacey.
  • Periods of forgetfulness or memory lapses.
  • Distracted or daydreaming.
  • Loss of consciousness, unconscious, or “pass out”.
  • Unable to hear.
  • Sounds may be strange or different.
  • Unusual smells (often bad smells like burning rubber).
  • Unusual tastes.
  • Loss of vision or unable to see.
  • Blurry vision.
  • Flashing lights.
  • Formed visual hallucinations (seeing objects or things that are not there).
  • Numbness, tingling, or electric shock like feeling in the body, arm, or leg. 
  • Out of body sensations. 
  • Feeling detached. 
  • Déjà vu feeling.
  • Jamais vu feeling.
  • Body parts feel or look different.
  • Feeling of panic, fear, impending doom (intense feeling that something bad is going to happen).
  • Pleasant feelings. 

Physical Changes:

  • Difficulty talking (may stop talking, make nonsense or garble sounds, keep talking, or speech may not make sense).
  • Unable to swallow or begin to drool.
  • Repeated blinking of eyes, eyes may move to one side or look upward, or staring. 
  • Lack of movement or muscle tone (may not be able to move one or more parts of the body).
  • Tremors, twitching, or jerking movements. It may occur on one or both sides of the face, arms, legs, or whole body or it may occur in one area then spread to other areas or stay in one place. 
  • Rigid or tense muscles in part of the body or whole body. It may feel very tight or tense and if the person is standing, they may fall. 
  • Repeated non-purposeful movements, called automatisms, involving the face, arms, or legs. Some examples are:
    • Lip smacking or chewing movements.
    • Repeated movements of the hands, like wringing, playing with buttons or objects in the hands, or waving.
    • Dressing or undressing.
    • Walking or running.
    • Repeated purposeful movements. The person may continue to do the activity that was going on before the seizure.
    • Convulsions. 
    • Losing control of urine or stool.
    • Sweating.
    • Changes in skin color. It may look pale or flushed.
    • Pupils may dilate.
    • Biting of the tongue.
    • Difficulty breathing.
    • Heart racing.


When the seizure is coming to an end, then the postictal state begins. This is called the recovery period of the seizure. Some people recover right after the seizure, and others may take a little longer to recuperate from the effects of the episode. It all depends on the type of seizure, as well as the part of the brain the seizure originated from, that may determine how long the recovery process will take. 

Common symptoms after a seizure. 

Awareness, Sensory, Emotional, or Thought Changes:

  • Slow to respond or not able to respond right away. 
  • Sleepy. 
  • Confused.
  • Memory loss.
  • Difficulty talking or writing. 
  • Feeling fuzzy, lightheaded, or dizzy. 
  • Feeling depressed, sad, or upset.
  • Scared. 
  • Anxious. 
  • Frustrated, embarrassed, or ashamed. 

Physical changes:

  • May have injuries, such as bruising, cuts, broken bones, or head injury if the person fell during the seizure.
  • May feel tired, exhausted, or sleep for minutes or hours. 
  • Headache or other pain. 
  • Nausea or upset stomach.
  • Thirsty.
  • General weakness or weakness in one part or side of the body.
  • Urge to go to the bathroom or lose control of bowel or bladder. 


This entry was published on March 9, 2017 at 3:36 pm. It’s filed under Blog and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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