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focal aware seizures

In focal aware seizures (FAS), previously called simple partial seizures, the person is conscious (aware and alert) and will usually know that something is happening and will remember the seizure afterwards.

Some people find their focal aware seizures hard to put into words. During the seizure they may feel ‘strange’ but not able to describe the feeling afterwards. This may be upsetting or frustrating for them.

FAS are sometimes called ‘warnings’ or ‘auras’ because, for some people, a FAS develops into another type of seizure. The FAS is then a warning that another seizure will happen (see focal to bilateral tonic-clonic seizures).

What does a simple focal seizure look like?

Watch this video to find out what it feels like to go through a simple focal seizure from the point of view of someone with epilepsy.

Focal aware seizures that start in the temporal lobe may include:

  • a ‘rising’ feeling in the stomach (like the feeling you get on a fairground ride where you 'leave your tummy at the top') 
  • deja vu (feeling like you've 'been here before') 
  • getting an unusual smell or taste
  • a sudden intense feeling of fear or joy.

Focal aware seizures that start in the frontal lobe may include:

  • a strange feeling like a ‘wave’ going through the head
  • stiffness or twitching in part of the body (such as an arm or hand). 

Focal aware seizures that start in the parietal lobe may include:

  • a feeling of numbness or tingling
  • a sensation that an arm or leg feels bigger or smaller than it actually is.

Focal aware seizures that start in the occipital lobe may include:

  • visual disturbances such as coloured or flashing lights
  • hallucinations (seeing something that isn’t actually there).