Grand mal seizures also known as tonic-clonic seizures are caused by abnormal electrical activity in the brain affecting person’s consciousness. A sudden flow of electrical activity in the brain affects person’s feelings or actions for a short time. The person may become unconscious, frequently jerk aggressively for several minutes or lose balance of body and fall to the floor. Most often the root cause for seizure is the electrical disturbances; however any pre-existing could also become the secondary reason. They may occur as a single episode or as repeated episodes. Repeated episodes of grand mal seizure show sign of acute epilepsy, the chronic condition of seizures in human body.
Disrupted Electric Signals Cause Grand Mal Seizure
When Do Grand Mal Seizures Happen?
Grand mal seizures or convulsions are not age restricted. They can happen anytime at a person’s life. Usually the first sign of these seizures are visible in childhood or adolescence. The occurrence of seizure is not restricted to the time of the day but it surely has some relation with the sleep-wake interface. It typically occurs after a nap sleep.
Causes Of Grand Mal Seizures
The causes of grand mal seizures are the disrupted electrical activity that takes place in a larger part of the brain. However, it should be prominent that there is still no acute evidence as to what causes grand mal seizure.
Grand Mal Seizures In Children
Grand mal seizures experienced by children are often caused by:-
Metabolic changes such as anomalous level of glucose, magnesium or calcium in the blood vessels.
Sudden high rise in the temperature of the body
Family history of seizures
Causes of grand mal seizures in adults and the elderly could be because of:-
Low level of glucose
Excessive drinking habit of alcohol
Illicit drug usage
Brain tumor or strokes
Encephalitis or rabies and any other major type of brain infection
Any treatment that affected the electrolytes in the body
Each seizure can be divided into two parts, a tonic phase and a clonic phase. Tonic phase shows an increase in the natural tension or muscle rigidity and stiffness. Clonic phase shows excessive contraction and relaxation of muscle movement and aggressive jerking.
Body stiffness is followed by abrupt jerks when a person experiences tonic-clonic phase. Common tendencies shown by a person experiencing tonic-clonic phase are first crying out loud because vocal cords undergoes high air pressure, arm and leg frequent jerking and falling to the ground. Accidents are more likely to happen during the phase. A person may drool, bite tongue or lose control of bladder.
Other symptoms that may be visible but not positive with every person undergoing a seizure attack could be:-
Aura symptoms are those that may trigger intuitions to the patient about grand mal seizure attack. Patient may be marked by changes in taste, hearing abilities and vision.
Bluish color change in skin
Temporary stoppage of breathing
Excessive saliva secretion
Clenching of the jaw and mouth
Confusion and sleepiness
Diagnosis of Grand Mal Seizures
Diagnosis of grand mal seizure starts with searching for an underlying medical condition such as low blood sugar that may have triggered seizures. If there is no medical condition that is directory or indirectly involve in the occurrence of the seizure the diagnosis steps towards reviewing patient’s medical history and eyewitness reports. During the seizure patient may have had a headache, numbness in the arm and legs or have shown some visual symptoms. These records help locate any structural defect in the brain.
Diagnosis also include through medical and neurological examinations as after the seizure some neurological findings are missing or equivocal. These neurological examination help locate the neurological deficits as well as the areas of brain lesion.
Grand Mal Seizures Diagnosis Through EEG
Spinal tap (lumbar puncture)
Brain CT and MRI
In few cases cerebral angiogram is performed to find out aneurysm malformation.
What Medical Complications Are Possibly Associated With Grand Mal Seizure?
Grand mal seizures may or may not cause some serious health issues to the patients.
Emotional and Behavioral problems – the patients may have attentions deficit behavior, depression or paranoid disorders. Some children may also have obsessive-compulsive disorder and aggressive tendencies and due to grand mal seizures.
Status epilepticus – one may have status epilepticus which causes continuous seizure with no respite.
Sudden unexplained death – It occurs in 1 in 1000 persons over 1 year but the risk is largely elevated to 1 in 100 over 1 year for persons with grand mal seizures.
Brain damage – Although permanent brain damage is rare but frequent migraines and short-term memory loss is possible with grand mal seizure.
Brain surgery: when anti-epileptic drugs are insufficient to stop or reduce the number of seizure in a person then doctor may suggest brain surgery. These brain surgeries are also called neurosurgery. They involve removing or separating part of the brain which is causing grand mal seizures.
Lifestyle change – Change in diet and social and behavioral therapy also help to deal with the complications of the seizures.
Living And Managing With Grand Mal Seizures
There are treatment methods and medications to help you deal with seizures but they are not guaranteed for future prevention from seizure episodes. However, a self-help technique combined with a few precautionary steps ensures quality of life when epilepsy is diagnosed.
Communicate with doctor to better manage life through proper medication
Try your best to avoid situations that trigger grand mal seizure
Educate yourself about the seizures and make your family and friends informed about the tendencies and what may happen with you during the seizure.
Find support in the society. These support are sometime are the only hope that provide you with the strength to face another day with grand mal seizures.