Condition 101 About Generalized Tonic-Clonic Seizure

What is the definition of Generalized Tonic-Clonic Seizure?

Generalized tonic-clonic seizure is a type of seizure that involves the entire body. It is also called grand mal seizure. The terms seizure, convulsion, or epilepsy are most often associated with generalized tonic-clonic seizures.

What are the alternative names for Generalized Tonic-Clonic Seizure?

Seizure - tonic-clonic; Seizure - grand mal; Grand mal seizure; Seizure - generalized; Epilepsy - generalized seizure

What are the causes for Generalized Tonic-Clonic Seizure?

Seizures result from overactivity in the brain. Generalized tonic-clonic seizures may occur in people of any age. They can occur once (single episode). Or, they can occur as part of a repeated, chronic illness (epilepsy). Some seizures are due to psychological problems (psychogenic).

What are the symptoms for Generalized Tonic-Clonic Seizure?

Many people with generalized tonic-clonic seizures have vision, taste, smell, or sensory changes, hallucinations, or dizziness before the seizure. This is called an aura.

The seizures often result in rigid muscles. This is followed by violent muscle contractions and loss of alertness (consciousness). Other symptoms that occur during the seizure may include:

  • Biting the cheek or tongue
  • Clenched teeth or jaw
  • Loss of urine or stool control (incontinence)
  • Stopped breathing or difficulty breathing
  • Blue skin color

After the seizure, the person may have:

  • Confusion
  • Drowsiness or sleepiness that lasts for 1 hour or longer (called the post-ictal state)
  • Loss of memory (amnesia) about the seizure episode
  • Headache
  • Weakness of 1 side of the body for a few minutes to a few hours following seizure (called Todd paralysis)

What are the current treatments for Generalized Tonic-Clonic Seizure?

Treatment for tonic-clonic seizures includes medicines, changes in lifestyle for adults and children, such as activity and diet, and sometimes surgery. Your doctor can tell you more about these options.



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Leach JP, Davenport RJ. Neurology. In: Ralston SH, Penman ID, Strachan MWJ, Hobson RP, eds. Davidson's Principles and Practice of Medicine. 23rd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap 25.

Thijs RD, Surges R, O'Brien TJ, Sander JW. Epilepsy in adults. Lancet. 2019;393(10172):689-701. PMID: 30686584

Wiebe S. The epilepsies. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 26th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 375.

Latest Advances On Generalized Tonic-Clonic Seizure

  • Condition: Absence Seizures in Children and Adolescents
  • Journal: The Cochrane database of systematic reviews
  • Treatment Used: Ethosuximide, Sodium Valproate, or Lamotrigine
  • Number of Patients: 691
  • Published —
The aim of the study was to review the evidence for the effects of ethosuximide, valproate and lamotrigine as treatments for children and adolescents with absence seizures.
  • Condition: Epilepsy
  • Journal: Seizure
  • Treatment Used: Carbamazepine (CBZ) and Oxcarbazepine (OXC)
  • Number of Patients: 0
  • Published —
This article discusses the optimal use of carbamazepine (CBZ) and oxcarbazepine (OXC) in patients with epilepsy.

Clinical Trials For Generalized Tonic-Clonic Seizure

Clinical Trial
  • Status: Recruiting
  • Phase: N/A
  • Intervention Type: Device
  • Participants: 40
  • Start Date: March 1, 2021
Development of A Room Temperature Atomic Magnetrode System for Telemetry of Epileptic Seizures