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JAMA Patient Page
September 18, 2013


JAMA. 2013;310(11):1195. doi:10.1001/jama.2013.277840

Seizures are caused by disorganized or abnormal electrical activity in the brain.

The nerve cells in the brain communicate by electrical activity, but during a seizure, too much activity disrupts normal communication.

There are many possible causes of seizures, including high fever, brain injury or tumor, street drugs, drug withdrawal, illness such as meningitis, poisoning, stroke, kidney or liver failure, and many others. If you have more than 1 seizure, you may be diagnosed as having epilepsy, meaning you are prone to seizures.

Generalized seizures involve the entire brain and include the following.

Partial or focal seizures involve only a part of the brain and include simple partial, in which the person remembers the seizure, and complex partial, in which the person does not recall the events. Symptoms range from unnoticeable to extremely physical and may include nausea, sweating, stomach pain, or hallucinations. Febrile seizures are caused by high fever in children.