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Seizures & Epilepsy

What is a Seizure?

A seizure happens when there is sudden, abnormal electrical activity in the brain. Not all seizures cause convulsions. There are many types of seizures and some have mild symptoms. Seizures fall into two main groups. Focal seizures, also called partial seizures, happen in just one part of the brain. Generalized seizures are a result of abnormal activity on both sides of the brain. Seizures have many causes, including high fever, medicines, head injuries, and certain diseases. People who have recurring seizures due to a brain disorder have epilepsy.

Internet Resources

MedlinePlus: Seizures

MedlinePlus: Epilepsy
Developed by the National Library of Medicine, this site is a portal for trusted health information from both government-sponsored and privately developed health information websites.

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
Part of the National Institutes of Health, this site provides patient information as well as links to research and clinical trials.

Epilepsy Foundation: Types of Seizures
This organization provides information about epilepsy, advocates for people with seizure disorders, and promotes research for a cure.


  • Neurology for the non-neurologist. Weiner WJ, ed. 2010.
  • Ketogenic diet: a treatment for children and others with epilepsy. Freeman J. 2007
  • Epileptic. David, B. 2006.
  • Spiral staircase: my climb out of darkness. Armstrong, K. 2005.

The following resources are available in print at the Health Learning Center or electronically at http://www.nmh.org/nm/health+library+virtual+library.

  • The Gale Encyclopedia of Medicine. Longe JL, ed. 2006. Vol 4, p3328-3333.
  • The Gale Encyclopedia of Science. Lerner KL, ed. 2008. Vol 2, p1612-1613.
  • The Gale Encyclopedia of Children’s Health: Infancy through Adolescence. Krapp K, ed. 2011.


  • “Pharmacology of antiepileptic drugs in clinical practice.” Neurologist. Guimaraes J., Ribeiro JA. 16(6):353-7, 2010 Nov.
  • “Definition of the postictal state: when does it start and end?” Epilepsy & Behavior. Fisher RS, Engel JJ Jr. 19(2):100-4, 2010 Oct.
  • “Brain stimulation for the treatment of epilepsy.” Epilepsia. Jobst BC et al. 51 Suppl 3:88-92, 2010 Jul.
  • “Caring for the patient with seizures. A 21st century approach.” Minnesota Medicine. Gumnit RJ. 93(5):46-9, 2010 May.


Epilepsy Foundation Greater Chicago
17 N State St #1300
Chicago, IL 60602

Call or visit their website for information on local support groups, counseling, advocacy and educational services for people with epilepsy, their families and the larger community.

Contact Us

For more information, please contact the Health Learning Center at 312-926-5465 or HLC@nmh.org.

Last UpdateJanuary 30, 2012