What is a partial seizure?

Fact Checked

A partial seizure affects only one area of the brain. A partial seizure might occur for various reasons including brain tumors, epilepsy, infections, low blood sugar or heat stroke. Remember that a seizure could not be treated and should be allowed to run its course. Diagnosing and managing the underlying cause can minimize the frequency of the partial seizures.

What are the types?

A seizure occurs if there is a surge of electrical activity in the brain. This disturbance can generate various physical symptoms. This is true with a partial seizure which is focused in one part of the brain. Remember that there are 2 types of partial seizures.

Simple partial seizure

The individual will not lose consciousness during this type of partial seizure and lasts for a minute or less. The individual can remember what occurred after the seizure passes. In addition, it often causes anxiousness.

Complex partial seizure

The individual loses consciousness during this type of partial seizure and could not recall what happened. This can last for a minute or two and one will feel a warning sign such as nausea or feeling of uneasiness prior to the episode. Additionally, the individual feels sleepy and confused after.

What are the causes of a partial seizure?

There are various conditions and factors that can trigger seizures of various types. Oftentimes, the cause is unknown. If an episode has no cause, it is called as an idiopathic seizure. Some of the possible causes include the following:

Partial seizure
A partial seizure could not be managed as it is happening. It should run its course while ensuring that the individual is safe.
  • Epilepsy
  • Stroke
  • Kidney or liver failure
  • Heat stroke
  • High blood pressure
  • Brain infections such as meningitis
  • Using illegal or prohibited drugs
  • Low blood sugar
  • Head and brain injuries
  • Withdrawal from alcohol or drugs
  • Congenital brain defects
  • Phenylketonuria
  • Venomous bites or stings

Indications of a partial seizure

Since a partial seizure affects one part of the brain, the symptoms might vary depending on the particular event. In case the disturbance is in a region of the brain that affects vision, hallucinations or bright lights are seen.

Other possible symptoms of a partial seizure include the following:

  • Contractions on one side of the body
  • Muscular contractions followed by relaxation
  • Abdominal cramping
  • Unusual head or eye movements
  • Rapid pulse rate
  • Tingling, numbness or feeling that something is crawling on the skin
  • Flushed face
  • Sweating
  • Automatisms (repetitive movements) such as lip smacking, picking on skin or clothes, swallowing or chewing
  • Mood changes
  • Nausea
  • Dilated pupils, hallucinations or visual changes
  • Blackouts


A partial seizure could not be managed as it is happening. It should run its course while ensuring that the individual is safe. The doctor might be able to treat the cause. In case of recurring episodes, the individual might be given a medication to prevent them.

During a seizure of any type, it is vital to keep other individuals and objects out of the way until an episode stops. The muscle contractions can cause the individual to lash out and even hurt themselves. You have to clear the area from any objects to minimize the risk for injury.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top

The information posted on this page is for educational purposes only.
If you need medical advice or help with a diagnosis contact a medical professional

  • All firstaidreddeer.ca content is reviewed by a medical professional and / sourced to ensure as much factual accuracy as possible.

  • We have strict sourcing guidelines and only link to reputable websites, academic research institutions and medical articles.

  • If you feel that any of our content is inaccurate, out-of-date, or otherwise questionable, please contact us through our contact us page.