When someone has experienced a seizure, a healthcare provider will usually order an electroencephalogram, or EEG, to determine what type of seizure the person may have had and whether there are any detectable abnormalities in the person's brain waves. The doctor also may order brain scans to identify abnormalities that may be visible in the brain.
If a person has had two or more seizures, he or she is often diagnosed with epilepsy.
There are two general types of seizures: generalized and partial.
Seizures can be generalized, meaning that all brain cells are involved. One type of generalized seizure consists of a convulsion with a complete loss of consciousness. Another type looks like a brief period of fixed staring.
A seizure can be "partial" when those brain cells not working properly are limited to one part of the brain. Such partial seizures may cause periods of "automatic behavior" and altered consciousness. This is typified by purposeful-looking behavior, such as buttoning or unbuttoning a shirt. Such behavior, however, is unconscious, may be repetitive, and is usually not remembered.