7 Myths About Seizures

  • happy couple
    Don't fall for these falsehoods.
    If you're unfamiliar with seizures, they can seem quite mysterious. But a seizure is just an abnormal burst of electrical activity in your brain that temporarily affects your awareness, sensations, thoughts or actions. You may have heard some misinformation and myths about seizures. Now is the time to learn the truth.

  • Women rubbing hands
    Myth: All seizures involve convulsions.
    There are many kinds of seizures. Some cause fainting and convulsions—dramatic episodes in which the body first becomes rigid and then jerks uncontrollably. But some only cause brief spells of blinking rapidly and staring into space. Others cause strange sensations (like tingling) or odd behaviors (like repeated lip smacking).
     

  • tired male backpacker with dehydration and heat exhaustion
    Myth: Seizures always mean epilepsy.
    Epilepsy involves having seizures that occur repeatedly. Sometimes seizures happen just once or twice and then never return again. Such seizures may result from a new concussion, a high fever, low blood sugar, or withdrawal from alcohol or drugs, to name a few examples. If the seizures don't recur, they aren't considered epilepsy.
     

  • two boys playing video games
    Myth: Videogames often trigger seizures.
    Videogames with rapidly flashing lights or alternating color patterns can sometimes trigger seizures, but this is rare. Only 3% of people with epilepsy react to visual triggers. Even in this group, seizures may occur only under very specific circumstances—for example, if light of a certain brightness flashes at a particular speed.
     

  • woman having aura
    Myth: Seizures aways give fair warning.
    Warning signs of a seizure are called auras. These occur while you're still aware of what is happening. The aura may take many forms—for example, feeling panicky, getting dizzy, or smelling odors that aren't there. But not everyone experiences auras. For some, the first sign of a seizure is losing awareness or passing out.
     

  • woman having seizure
    Myth: You'll swallow your tongue.
    No matter what you've heard, it's impossible to swallow your tongue during a seizure. Some people also mistakenly believe that, when you're having a seizure, they should force something into your mouth. In reality, this could make you break a tooth, cut your gums, or even fracture your jaw.
     

  • woman sitting on steps with head in hands
    Myth: Being restrained stops a seizure.
    Forget what you've seen in movies: Bystanders shouldn't try to hold you down while you're having a seizure. Being physically restrained won't halt the seizure, and you might fight back in a state of confusion. Letting you move or walk around is just fine, so long as you're in safe surroundings.
     

  • Couple consulting with doctor holding digital tablet
    Myth: Epilepsy treatments rarely work.
    With the right medication at the right dose, about two-thirds of people with epilepsy can completely control their seizures. For the remaining one-third, other treatments are sometimes added to the medication to improve the results. Treatment options may include brain surgery, nerve stimulation with an implanted electrical device, or a special diet.
     

7 Myths About Seizures

About The Author

Was this helpful?
(249)
Last Review Date: 2019 Feb 19
Explore Epilepsy
  • Learn how epilepsy and seizure symptoms can affect driving, and how epilepsy driving laws may affect you.
    August 17, 2018
  • One in 26 Americans will develop epilepsy during their lifetime and caregiving for this disorder can be scary and stressful. Seizures happen unexpectedly and not knowing how to respond can be a big challenge for caregivers. Though epilepsy presents itself in different ways for every person, there are general guidelines that can make you feel more capable and prepared as a caregiver.
    June 10, 2016
  • If you have epilepsy, it’s likely your doctor prescribed a few different medications at various dosages before you found the one that helped control your seizures best. But over time, your epilepsy treatment may not work as well as it once did. Although this can be discouraging, before worrying that you may have to start over again, there could be a simple fix, depending on why the treatment stopped being effective. Here are some things to watch out for if your epilepsy treatment doesn’t seem to be working.
    June 10, 2016
  • These basic first aid steps will help you protect and care for your loved one during a seizure.
    June 10, 2016
Recommended Reading
Next Up
Answers to Your Health Questions
Trending Videos