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tonic clonic seizures

tonic clonic seizures (previously called grand mal)

These are the seizures most people think of as epilepsy.

At the start of the seizure:

  • the person becomes unconscious
  • their body goes stiff and if they are standing up they usually fall backwards
  • they may cry out
  • they may bite their tongue or cheek.

During the seizure:

  • they jerk and shake (convulse) as their muscles relax and tighten rhythmically
  • their breathing might be affected and become difficult or sound noisy
  • their skin may change colour and become very pale or bluish
  • they may wet themselves.

After the seizure (once the jerking stops):

  • their breathing and colour return to normal
  • they may feel tired, confused, have a headache or want to sleep.

Experiencing a tonic clonic seizure

Watch this video to find out what the experience of a tonic clonic seizure may be like. During the seizure a person jerks and shakes (convulse) as their muscles relax and tighten rhythmically.