Partial seizures occur in just one part of the brain. About 60 percent of people with epilepsy have partial seizures. Two types of partial seizures are:
- Simple partial seizures, in which a person will remain conscious but experience unusual feelings or sensations that can take many forms.
- Complex partial seizures, in which a person has a change in consciousness or loss of consciousness. People having a complex partial seizure may display strange, repetitious behaviors such as blinks, twitches, mouth movements, or even walking in a circle.
Dilantin is approved to control complex partial seizures.
Generalized seizures are a result of abnormal brain activity on both sides of the brain. These seizures may cause loss of consciousness, falls, or massive muscle spasms. The two most common forms are absence seizures (also known as petit mal seizures) and tonic-clonic seizures (grand mal seizures). Tonic-clonic seizures involve decreased consciousness and muscle contractions and rigidity. When most people think of a seizure, they are thinking of a generalized tonic-clonic seizure, as this is the most common type of seizure portrayed on TV and in movies.
Dilantin is approved to control generalized tonic-clonic seizures.
During a seizure, brain cells (neurons) may fire as many as 500 times a second, much faster than the normal rate of about 80 times a second. Dilantin works by affecting sodium channels in the brain. It does not prevent abnormal brain activity from starting; instead, it prevents the abnormal activity from spreading to other parts of the brain. This action helps control seizures.