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.