Frontal lobe seizures are a common form of epilepsy. Epilepsy is a brain disorder in which clusters of brain cells send a burst of electrical signals. This causes movements that can't be controlled, known as seizures. Frontal lobe seizures begin in the front of the brain, the area known as the frontal lobe.
The frontal lobe is large and has important functions. For this reason, frontal lobe seizures can produce symptoms that are unusual and may appear to be related to a mental illness. The seizures also can be mistaken for a sleep disorder because they often occur during sleep. Frontal lobe seizures also are known as frontal lobe epilepsy.
Changes in brain tissue, infection, injury, stroke, tumors or other conditions can cause frontal lobe seizures.
Medicines can help control the seizures. Surgery or electrical stimulation might be options if medicines don't reduce or stop the seizures.
Frontal lobe seizures often last less than 30 seconds. Sometimes recovery is immediate.
Symptoms of frontal lobe seizures might include:
- Head and eye movement to one side.
- Not responding to others or having trouble speaking.
- Explosive screams, including profanities or laughter.
- Body posturing. A common posture is extending one arm while the other flexes, as if the person is posing like a fencer.
- Repetitive movements. These may include rocking, bicycle pedaling or pelvic thrusting.
When to see a doctor
See a health care professional if you're having symptoms of a seizure. Call 911 or emergency medical help if you see someone having a seizure that lasts longer than five minutes.
Frontal lobe seizures can be caused by tumors, stroke, infection or traumatic injuries in the brain's frontal lobes.
Frontal lobe seizures also are associated with a rare inherited disorder called autosomal dominant nocturnal frontal lobe epilepsy. This form of epilepsy causes brief seizures during sleep. If one of your parents has this form of epilepsy, you have a 50% chance of inheriting the disorder.
For about half of people who have frontal lobe epilepsy, the cause is not known.
Risk factors of frontal lobe seizures include:
- Family history of seizures or brain disorders.
- Head trauma.
- Brain infection.
- Brain tumors.
- Blood vessels or brain tissues that form in an irregular way.
Frontal lobe seizures can cause complications that may include:
Seizures that last dangerously long. Frontal lobe seizures tend to occur in clusters. For this reason, they might provoke a condition in which seizure activity lasts much longer than usual, known as status epilepticus. If these seizures continue, they can cause permanent brain damage or death.
Seizures that last longer than five minutes are medical emergencies. Call 911 or get medical help right away if you witness someone having a seizure for longer than five minutes.
- Injury. The motions that occur during frontal lobe seizures sometimes result in injury to the person having the seizure. Seizures also can result in accidents and drowning if they occur in certain situations, such as while driving or swimming.
- Sudden unexplained death in epilepsy (SUDEP). People who have seizures have a greater risk than the average person of dying suddenly. The reasons for this are not known. Possible factors include heart or breathing problems, perhaps related to genetic changes. Controlling seizures as well as possible with medicines appears to be the best way to prevent SUDEP.
- Depression and anxiety. Both are common in people with epilepsy. Children also have a higher risk of developing attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).