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.

First aid convulsions, part 1


Abou-Khalil BW, Gallagher MJ, Macdonald RL. Epilepsies. In: Daroff RB, Jankovic J, Mazziotta JC, Pomeroy SL, eds. Bradley's Neurology in Clinical Practice. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 101.

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 pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30686584/.

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

  • Condition: Autoimmune Epilepsy Due to N-methyl-D-Aspartate Receptor Antibodies in Child
  • Journal: Journal of medical case reports
  • Treatment Used: Intravenous Methyl Prednisolone and Mycophenolate
  • Number of Patients: 1
  • Published —
This case report describes a a5-year-old Sri Lankan boy diagnosed with autoimmune epilepsy due to N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor antibodies treated with intravenous methyl prednisolone and mycophenolate.
Clinical Trial
  • Status: Active, not recruiting
  • Phase: Phase 1
  • Intervention Type: Device
  • Participants: 40
  • Start Date: February 27, 2018
Microburst VNS Therapy Feasibility Study in Subjects With Refractory Epilepsy
Clinical Trial
  • Status: Recruiting
  • Intervention Type: Other
  • Participants: 200
  • Start Date: April 1, 2021
NEED: Neuromed Epilepsy EEG Database. A Large Database of Electroencephalographic (EEG) Signals of Epilepsy Patients for Research Community.