Complex partial seizures occur in children and adults with certain
epilepsy. They are the most common type of seizure in
aura may occur at the beginning of a seizure. It may
consist of a strange smell, taste, sound, or visual disturbance, an unexplained
feeling of fear or anxiety, or a sense that everything seems strangely
familiar, like it has all happened before (déjà vu), or strangely unfamiliar
The seizure changes the person's level of
consciousness. The person may appear awake but cannot respond to anything or
anyone around him or her. The person usually stares into space.
seizure may include involuntary movements called automatisms, such as
lip-smacking, chewing, hand wringing, picking, and swallowing.
seizure lasts 30 seconds to 2 minutes.
Most people who have complex partial seizures do not remember having
them. After a seizure, the person will be confused or disoriented and may have
a hard time speaking and swallowing for several minutes.
Complex partial seizures are often confused with absence seizures, a
type of generalized seizure. Absence seizures, though, never begin with an
aura and last only 5 to 15 seconds. Also, a person is fully alert after an
absence seizure and may continue with whatever he or she was doing before the
seizure as though nothing has happened.