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Early Warning Signs of a Seizure

author image J. Lucy Boyd
J. Lucy Boyd, RN, BSN has written several nonfiction books including "The Complete Guide to Healthy Cooking and Nutrition for College Students." She is frequently called upon to provide career guidance to medical professionals and advice to parents of children with challenges. She also loves teaching others to cook for their families.
Early Warning Signs of a Seizure
Seeing a bright light may be a warning of impending seizure. Photo Credit deep sea creature image by Yali Shi from Fotolia.com


A seizure is a burst of electrical activity in the brain. A seizure can last from a few seconds to more than 30 minutes. Several types of seizures exist. Repeated seizures usually indicate seizure disorder, or epilepsy. Some people experience early warning signs, which can occur minutes, hours or days before a seizure. These warning signs are referred to as "pre-ictal," meaning "before the seizure."


Auras are the most well-known warning signs of seizure. You may notice an odd smell or a peculiar taste in your mouth, or experience a visual disturbance, such as blurry vision or seeing lights that do not exist. You may hear a non-existent musical sound, or feel as though the temperature in the room has changed. Parts of your body may feel numb or weak.


Some individuals complain of a sudden pain just before a seizure. This pain can occur anywhere in your body, but sufferers frequently report a headache similar to a migraine. You may feel an uncomfortable tingling feeling in your stomach or elsewhere.

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Odd Feelings

People often discuss feeling odd in the hours or days before a seizure. You may have a sense of deja vu, or feel confused or disoriented. You may seem detached from your environment or have an out-of-body feeling. You may also appear to be daydreaming or not paying attention to your surroundings.


Adults may feel anxious or tense before a seizure, possibly accompanied by a feeling of dread. A child may become cranky or impulsive during this time. He may easily become frustrated with himself or others, and behave inappropriately.

Prodromal Signs

Some seizure warning signs are prodromal, meaning "symptoms that occur at the onset of an attack." These signs include feeling depressed or in a dark mood in the days before a seizure. You may feel as though happiness is out of reach. A child may also experience a depressed mood before a seizure.

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