Generalized Tonic-Clonic Seizure
Alternate Names : Grand Mal Seizure
Seizures are caused by sudden, large discharges of electrical impulses from brain cells. Generalized tonic-clonic seizures were formerly called grand mal seizures. They involve repeated convulsions, or jerking movements, of the limbs and trunk.
What is going on in the body?
Neurons are the nerve cells within the brain. They coordinate movement, thinking, personality, and sensory activities. Neurons communicate with each other through electrical discharges. A seizure occurs when excitable neurons give off abnormal electrical discharges. There are different types of seizures, depending on where the excitable neurons are located. Epilepsy is diagnosed when an individual has a repeating pattern of seizures.
Seizures are divided into two main types: generalized and partial. Generalized seizures affect the entire brain. The person loses consciousness or awareness of the environment. Partial seizures affect only one part of the brain. The individual usually doesn't lose consciousness. Generalized tonic-clonic seizures affect the whole brain.
What are the causes and risks of the condition?
Seizures have many causes. These may include conditions such as:
abnormalities in the blood vessels of the brain
atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries supplying the brain
bleeding into the brain, such as a subarachnoid hemorrhage
congenital diseases or conditions
high blood pressure
pregnancy and its compications
transient ischemic attack, which is also called a mini-stroke
Diseases also can be a factor in seizures, such as:
advanced liver disease
Alzheimer's disease and other types of dementia
infections involving the brain, including encephalitis, brain abscess, and bacterial meningitis
kidney failure, such as chronic renal failure
Injuries that may cause seizures include the following:
injury during birth or in the uterus
poisonous insect bites or stings
Additional factors that may cause seizures include the following:
craniotomy, which is brain surgery
high fever, especially in young children
illegal drugs, such as cocaine
withdrawal from some medicines, including those used to treat seizures