There are over 40 different types of seizures, but the most common types are simple partial seizures, complex partial seizures, general absence seizures and tonic-clonic seizures, also known as grand mal seizures. While some seizures cause violent reactions that include uncontrolled shaking and jerky and even lose of consciousness and others are barely perceptible. Any number of types of seizures that are generally mild in nature are commonly referred to as mini seizures.
There are many causes of epilepsy or seizures, but all of them involve some type of interruption of the brain pattern activity. Brain chemistry imbalance, heredity, head injury, prenatal injury, medication or withdrawal from drugs or medication, alcoholism, stroke or anything that causes oxygen deprivation and diseases such as meningitis, AIDS and brain tumors all may cause seizures. The type of seizure and extent depends on the amount of damage and location.
Mini seizures occur in various parts of the brain and because of that, produce vastly different symptoms. A seizure might produce unusual sensations depending on the area where it disrupts the brain activity. If the interruption is near the temporal lobe, these mini seizures cause you to smell unusual odors. They also effect how you process a thought or decide when its best to express the thought or remain quiet. If the mini seizure occurs on the occipital lobe, it affects vision and may cause hallucination or rapid blinking.
Stomach discomfort may be one symptom of a mini seizure. Also, a feeling that something bad is about to occur, or impending doom, may be part of the seizure experience. Occasionally, with a very mild seizure, the person does not lose consciousness.
A more complex mini seizure often creates a loss of consciousness or awareness of the person's surroundings. During these types of mini seizures, repetitive actions such as head turning, tugging at clothing or mumbling can occur. The person may appear dazed and confused.
Mini seizures in the form of a general absence seizure, creates a loss of awareness of the person's surroundings. Often children have these types of seizures and outgrow them by adolescence. Frequently, teachers and parents mistake these types of seizures for daydreaming because the child stares into space. There is no warning when these occur, and regular activity resumes once the seizure ends.
Tonic seizures only last about 10 seconds but they cause stiffening of the muscles and loss of consciousness. The difference from tonic-clonic seizures is the amount of time they last and the lack of muscle twitching. In its milder form, this type of seizure is a borderline mini-seizure because it is more apparent to the public that it's occurring.
Several medical conditions mimic mini seizures, which need immediate medical attention. Sometimes the seizures come from an underlying disease that needs treatment. Occasionally untreated mini seizures cause more damage and become full-blown tonic-clonic epilepsy.