Grand mal seizure is also well-known under the name tonic-clonic seizure, or generalized seizure. This seizure appears as a result of abnormal electrical activity in the nerve cells of the brain, but is often caused by epilepsy. Sometimes it occurs as the outcome of a stroke, significantly low blood sugar, severe head injuries, brain tumors, or some infections such as meningitis or encephalitis. This seizure is manifested through the loss of consciousness, body stiffening and violent muscle contractions of arms and legs, and it involves the whole body and has two stages. In tonic phase the person loses consciousness and falls down, while in clonic stage rhythmic contractions begin and last about two minutes.
Symptoms that may appear are sensory warning signs which are usually called an aura. It includes smell, taste, visual, sensory hallucination or dizziness. Rapid pulse and pallor can also warn the person of the coming seizure. In the beginning of the seizure the person usually cries out. During the seizure the person usually loses bowel and bladder control. Migraines and severe headaches are quite common after the grand mal seizures.
Since the seizure involves the loss of consciousness and awareness, it is extremely important for the persons who suffer from this not to drive, or to swim without life preserves, or to take baths instead of showers. Fractures, head injuries, and other injuries are frequent because of the person’s falling. Medication must be used regularly and properly. The physicians prescribe the medications only if more than one seizure appears. In the beginning they prescribe low dosages of a drug or drugs, and then gradually increase the dosage until they find the dosage which best controls the seizure.
The most common medications for grand mal seizures are Carbamazepine, Phenytoin, Valproic acid, Oxcarbazepine, Lamotrigine. The physician may also prescribe other drugs such as Gabapentin, Topiramate, Phenobarbital, as well as Zonisamide, Levetiracetam, Tiagabine, Pregabalin, and Felbamate. All these medications vary from person to person, depending how the patient reacts while using them. If any of these drugs does not have the effect, in that case the doctor recommends the combination of two drugs.
When using the above mentioned medications in treating grand mal seizures, side effects can appear. The most frequent side effects are fatigue, weakness, and sleepiness, the increase in the weight, speech problems and the sudden changes of the moods.
The drugs which are used for the treatment of grand mal seizures usually lessen the effectiveness of contraceptive pills. Also, it is recommended for pregnant woman to take only low doses of the anti-seizure drugs in order to prevent some child’s defects, although that rarely happens and a high percentage of women with the grand mal seizure has successful pregnancy.