What are Temporal Lobe Epilepsy Symptoms?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Temporal lobe epilepsy symptoms are a set of tell-tale symptoms indicative of seizures in the temporal lobe of the brain. People can experience a variety of symptoms during temporal lobe seizure activity, including confusion, hallucinations, a sense of anxiety, and purposeless movements not under the patient's control. Individuals who identify the symptoms of temporal lobe epilepsy and are not in treatment for epilepsy should seek the attention of a neurologist to get a full medical evaluation.

Confusion and hallucinations are possible symptoms of temporal lobe epilepsy.
Confusion and hallucinations are possible symptoms of temporal lobe epilepsy.

Temporal lobe epilepsy is characterized by partial seizures, meaning only part of the brain is involved. People can have simple or complex partial seizures. In simple seizures, the patient remains conscious and aware. Symptoms like uneasiness, aggression, an out-of-body sensation, confusion, restlessness, and repetitive movements can be experienced. People can also hallucinate sounds, smells, or tactile sensations. People may not realize they are having seizures and in fact, simple partial seizures are sometimes referred to as “auras” because people think they are warning signs that precede a seizure.

Experiencing symptoms of temporal lobe epilepsy means only part of the brain is involved.
Experiencing symptoms of temporal lobe epilepsy means only part of the brain is involved.

In a complex partial seizure, the patient loses awareness of the surrounding environment. Temporal lobe epilepsy symptoms during a partial seizure can include swallowing or chewing convulsively, babbling, or moving the fingers without being able to control them. The seizures are typically brief and when the patient recovers where will be no memory of the seizure. People can also remain confused or disorientated for several minutes after the seizure.

The best way to screen someone for temporal lobe epilepsy is to image the brain while a patient is experiencing temporal lobe epilepsy symptoms. This form of epilepsy doesn't always leave tell-tale signs that can be recognized when seizure activity is not occurring. Patients can also be interviewed to collect a history and it can be helpful to hear from friends and family who may have more information about how the patient behaves during seizures.

A variety of triggers can cause seizure activity. Treatment includes identifying potential causes and triggers, as well as helping the patient manage and prevent seizures with medication. Under the care of a neurologist, a patient's treatment plan can periodically be adjusted if there are changes in the patient's condition such as a rise in seizure activity or a change in temporal lobe epilepsy symptoms. It is important to see a doctor if seizures persist for more than a minute, if a patient experiences several seizures in a row, or an unusual number of seizures are observed within a short period of time.

A neurologist can diagnose temporal lobe epilepsy by performing an electroencephalogram (EEG).
A neurologist can diagnose temporal lobe epilepsy by performing an electroencephalogram (EEG).
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

You might also Like

Readers Also Love

Discussion Comments


@David09 - It’s interesting that you mention brain tumors. I knew a guy who had an epilepsy condition and they discovered a tumor in the brain. I’d like to say that it was benign but it wasn’t, and they were not able to remove it.

He lived a normal life for a few months after I met him, and then sadly he passed away. Up until then he functioned normally at his work. He would have a few of the symptoms for epilepsy.

Sometimes he would get a headache or feel a sense of confusion, from what he told me. But other than that, all was well, until he passed away. It was heartbreaking, as he was young and seemed to have a good future.


@David09 - There are obviously no good seizures. But if you have to take your pick, the simple seizure is definitely the lesser of two evils. That’s because with that kind of seizure you get an aura, which can act like a warning that a seizure is about to take place.

I’ve heard of some people driving down the road, getting such a warning signal, and then pulling over until the episode passes. With a complex seizure you’d go out suddenly while on the road, and unfortunately in most cases the outcome would be fatal.


@Charred - I’ve heard that you can get treatments beyond medication if you have an epilepsy disorder. Supposedly doctors are able to do brain surgery.

This is useful if they can identify the cause as being a tumor or some kind of calcium deposit in the brain. In that case they can remove it and hopefully eliminate the recurrence of seizures from that point on.

I don’t know if that’s considered a bona fide “cure” but I think it’s as close as doctors have come to completely doing away with epilepsy.


@julies = I know what you mean about animals having the condition too. My manager has a dog who has seizures from time to time. I have no idea what the epilepsy causes are in her animal’s situation, but she said they put the dog on phenobarbitol to control the condition.

I think that’s a standard medication that is used to treat epilepsy. My guess is that perhaps the dog was in a car accident or something like that. Anything that causes brain damage or disturbance can cause a seizure.

When the dog has the seizure he doesn’t go unconscious; he just starts spinning around and yelping frantically for a few moments. I would be heartbroken to have an animal with such a condition.


A few years ago I had a co-worker who would have a seizure every once in awhile. These were usually complex seizures and he would not even know where he was when one of these was happening.

It was as scary for those who worked around him as it was for him because we really didn't know what to do. He always kept medication in his desk drawer, and they never lasted very long, but it left you feeling quite unsettled.

He had struggled with this for a long time and I think his epilepsy also caused depression. He ended up leaving this job before I did. Even though I felt bad for him, I was really kind of relieved when he left.

You never know when he might have a seizure and there were days when you could tell he was really depressed and had a hard time coping.


Seizures are often common in animals as well as humans. My vet told me he has seen quite a bit of epilepsy in dogs through his years of practice.

This was really strange when I first noticed it in my dog. One minute she seemed fine and the next minute she acted like she was off in another world and would not respond to my voice.

I had never dealt with anything like this and when I called my vet, he told me to bring her in right away. She ended up having another seizure when we were at his office.

It was kind of good that the vet could actually see what was going on instead of relying on my explanation. She is also on seizure medication now and he said I shouldn't be surprised if these become more frequent as she gets older.


Just out of the blue one day, my adult cousin had symptoms of a temporal lobe epilepsy seizure. At least this is what they told her had happened after she got checked out.

She had a strange sensation of confusion and disorientation and not knowing where she was. It didn't last very long, but it was strange and kind of scary.

This was the first time she had experienced something like this, and hasn't had one since. She was in her 40's, and a single mom with 2 kids at home.

After she had her seizure, she began some medication and was told she could not drive for 6 months. Thankfully her folks lived a few blocks away and were able to help her with the kids and getting her back and forth to work.

Since she didn't have any other seizures in that 6 month period, she is able to drive again, but still has to take some medication to prevent one from happening again.


When someone has seizures, this can be pretty scary for everyone - especially if this has never happened before. When my daughter had her first seizure we all kind of freaked out and didn't know for sure what was going on.

I don't know if they really know for sure what the seizure causes are in my daughter. She has had several temporal lobe simple seizures and even after seeing a neurologist, we aren't exactly sure what causes them.

Usually she has some kind of sense or aura before the seizure comes on. This is helpful for her, especially if she is at school or is away from home.

The one thing her neurologist told us that we are hopeful about is he said this is something she will probably outgrow as she gets older. We are sure hoping that is the case for her.

Post your comments
Forgot password?