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Nude woman sitting with artificially induced convulsions (rbm-QP301M8-1887-545) (cropped).jpg
Nude woman sitting with artificially induced convulsions
SpecialtyNeurology, Psychiatry

A convulsion is a medical condition where body muscles contract and relax rapidly and repeatedly, resulting in uncontrolled shaking.[1] Because epileptic seizures typically include convulsions, the term convulsion is sometimes used as a synonym for seizure. However, not all epileptic seizures lead to convulsions, and not all convulsions are caused by epileptic seizures. Convulsions are also consistent with an electric shock and improper enriched air scuba diving. For non-epileptic convulsions, see non-epileptic seizures.

The word fit is sometimes used to mean a convulsion or epileptic seizure.[2]

Signs and symptoms[edit]

When a person is having a convulsion, they may experience several different symptoms. These may include: a brief blackout, confusion, drooling, loss of bowel/bladder control, sudden shaking of entire body, uncontrollable muscle spasms, temporary cessation of breathing, and many more.[1]

Generalized seizures[edit]

The most common type of seizure is called a generalized seizure, also known as a generalized convulsion. This is characterized by a loss of consciousness which may lead to the person collapsing. The body stiffens for about a minute and then jerks uncontrollably for the next minute. During this, the patient may fall and injure themselves or bite their tongue and lose control of their bladder. A familial history of seizures puts a person at a greater risk for developing them.[3][4]


Convulsions are the result of abnormal electrical activity in the brain. The specific cause is often not clear. Convulsions can be caused by specific chemicals in the blood, as well as infections like meningitis or encephalitis. Other possibilities include celiac disease,[5] head trauma, stroke or lack of oxygen to the brain. Sometimes the convulsion can be caused by genetic defects or brain tumors.[1] Convulsions can also occur when the blood sugar is too low and deficiency of vitamin B6 (pyridoxine).

A common cause of convulsions in children is febrile seizures. In Nigeria, malaria, which can cause sudden, high fevers, is a significant cause of convulsions among children under 5 years of age.[6]


  1. ^ a b c MedlinePlus Encyclopedia: Seizures
  2. ^ Merriam-Webster: Fit.
  3. ^ "Epilepsy Seizure Types and Symptoms". WebMD.
  4. ^ "Grand mal seizure causes". Mayo Clinic.
  5. ^ "Definition & Facts for Celiac Disease. What are the complications of celiac disease?". NIDDK. June 2016. Retrieved 26 May 2018.
  6. ^ "Management of Convulsion in Children, a Health concern in Nigeria". Public Health Nigeria. October 2018. Archived from the original on 18 October 2018. Retrieved 18 October 2018.

External links[edit]