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Temporal Lobe Epilepsy

What is temporal lobe epilepsy?

Temporal lobe epilepsy is the term for recurring seizures beginning in the temporal lobe – the section of the brain located on the sides of the head behind the temples and cheekbones.

Compared to other lobes in the brain, the temporal lobes seem to have a tendency to have seizures. The mesial portion (middle) of both temporal lobes are very important in epilepsy – they are frequently the source of seizures and can be prone to damage or scarring.

Because there are so many diverse functions either in or closely related to the temporal lobe, these seizures may have a dramatic affect on the patient's quality of life. 

Seizures beginning in the temporal lobes may remain there, or they may spread – meaning they are classified as simple or complex partial seizures. Depending on if/where the seizure spreads, the patient may experience:

  • A peculiar smell (such as burning rubber)
  • Strange sensations (like fear)
  • Abdominal/chest discomfort
  • Automatic, unconsciously repeated movements
  • Staring
  • Loss of awareness

How is temporal lobe epilepsy treated?

Treatment starts with anticonvulsant medications.  Epilepsy surgery may be an option, especially when seizures are caused by an abnormality in the brain such as mesial temporal sclerosis.

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For more information about temporal lobe epilepsy or to meet with our doctors, request an appointment at the Johns Hopkins Epilepsy Center.

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