Understanding Tonic-Clonic Epilepsy

Tonic-clonic epilepsy, also called grand mal seizures, is the most common form of seizure activity experienced by people living with epilepsy. It is characterized by two distinct phases. During the tonic phase, a person experiences rigid muscle contractions. This episode typically lasts for 15 to 30 seconds. During the clonic phase, a person experiences jerky, uncontrolled muscle movements that typically last for 1 to 3 minutes.

People living with tonic-clonic epilepsy experience a variety of symptoms, including rapid and irregular breathing, loss of consciousness, twitchy or fluttering movements of the eyelids, skin turning blue due to lack of oxygen, foaming at the mouth, and sudden body stiffness. After a tonic-clonic seizure, a person may experience confusion or disorientation, headache, memory loss, and fatigue.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Tonic-clonic epilepsy can be diagnosed through a range of methods, including an electroencephalogram (EEG), seizure diary, and blood tests. Once diagnosed, treatment for tonic-clonic seizures usually involves taking antiepileptic drugs. Other remedies may include surgery, lifestyle modifications, and other therapies, such as acupuncture or therapeutic massage. Treatment should be tailored to the individual, as each case of tonic-clonic epilepsy is unique.

Preventing Tonic-Clonic Seizures

It is important to remember that tonic-clonic seizures are unpredictable and may occur without warning. However, there are some precautions you can take to help reduce the risk of a tonic-clonic seizure, such as:

  • Get enough sleep and rest.
  • Avoid triggers like stimulants, stress and bright lights.
  • Check your blood sugar levels regularly.
  • Monitor and treat any underlying medical conditions such as fever, infections or electrolyte imbalances.
  • Get regular exercise.