Learn about epilepsy symptoms, possible causes of epilepsy and how epilepsy is treated, including surgical treatment options.
Seizures in adults. WHAT IS A SEIZURE? The brain contains billions of neurons (nerve cells) that create and receive electrical impulses. Fever After Tetanus Shot Adults. Electrical impulses allow neurons to communicate with one another. During a seizure, there is abnormal and excessive electrical activity in the brain. This can cause changes in awareness, behavior, and/or abnormal movements.
WHAT IS A SEIZURE? The brain contains billions of neurons (nerve cells) that create and receive electrical impulses. Electrical impulses allow neurons to communicate.
Find videos and information about what to do when someone has a seizure.
This activity usually lasts only a few seconds to minutes. Epilepsy refers to a condition in which a person has a risk of recurring epileptic seizures. Not everyone who has had a seizure has epilepsy. Nonepileptic seizures can be caused by other conditions such as low blood sugar, a fainting spell, or an anxiety attack. SEIZURE SYMPTOMSSeizure types — One of the most common seizure types is a convulsion.
- · Charlotte's Web – Charlotte Figi had her first seizure when she was 3 months old. Over the next few months, the girl, affectionately called Charlie, had.
- An epileptic seizure, also known as an epileptic fit, is a brief episode of signs or symptoms due to abnormal excessive or synchronous neuronal activity in the brain.
- Epilepsy is a group of neurological disorders characterized by epileptic seizures. Epileptic seizures are episodes that can vary from brief and nearly undetectable to.
- When encountering someone having a seizure many people don't know what to do. They forget that they already have within their possession one essential tool: common sense.
This may be called a "tonic clonic" or "grand mal" seizure. In this type of seizure, a person may stiffen and have jerking muscle movements; during the muscle- jerking, the person may bite their tongue, causing bleeding or frothing at the mouth. Other seizure types are less dramatic. Shaking movements may be isolated to one arm or part of the face. Alternatively, the person may suddenly stop responding and stare for a few seconds, sometimes with chewing motions or smacking the lips. Seizures may also cause "sensations" that only the patient feels. As an example, one type of seizure can cause stomach discomfort, fear, or an unpleasant smell.
Such subjective feelings are commonly referred to as auras. A person usually experiences the same symptoms with each seizure aura.
Sometimes, a seizure aura can occur before a convulsive seizure. Seizure triggers — A minority of people have seizure triggers, such as strong emotions, intense exercise, loud music, or flashing lights. When these triggers are at play, they usually immediately precede the seizure.
Although they are more difficult to link to a seizure, other factors can also increase the likelihood that a seizure will happen. As an example, fever, menstrual periods, a lack of sleep, and stress can all increase the risk of seizures in some people. After a seizure (postictal state) — For many seizure types, you may be unaware during the seizure. When you are told about your behavior during the seizure, you may not believe it because you have no memory of the event. The period following a seizure is called the postictal state. During this time, you may be confused and tired, and you may develop a throbbing headache.
This period usually lasts several minutes, although it can last for hours or even days. In some people, the postictal period comes with certain symptoms. For example, you may experience mild to severe weakness in a hand, arm, or leg.
Other people have difficulty speaking or experience temporary (partial) vision loss or other types of sensory loss. These can be important clues about the type of seizure and the part of the brain that was affected during the seizure. SEIZURE CAUSESAs noted earlier, all seizures are not caused by epilepsy.
There are three broad categories of seizure causes: ●Epileptic seizures – People with epilepsy have a type of brain dysfunction that intermittently causes episodes of abnormal electrical activity. This can be caused by any type of brain injury, such as trauma, stroke, brain infection, or a brain tumor.
In some individuals, epilepsy is an inherited condition. In many cases, the cause of epileptic seizures is not clear.●Provoked seizures – A similar type of abnormal electrical activity in the brain can be caused by certain drugs, alcohol withdrawal, and other imbalances, such as a low blood sugar. Seizures that are caused by problems like these are called "provoked" seizures, and they do not usually occur again once the problem is remedied. People with provoked seizures are not said to have epilepsy.●Nonepileptic seizures – Nonepileptic seizures look like seizures, but are not caused by abnormal brain activity. These seizures may be due to fainting spell, a muscle disorder, or a psychological condition. SEIZURE DIAGNOSISIf you have a seizure and have never had one before, your healthcare provider will want to get as much information about the seizure as possible. He or she will want to know a detailed description of the episode, if you lost consciousness, stared blankly, or twitched and jerked violently.
The more information your healthcare provider has about your seizure, the better able he or she will be to make the right diagnosis. If a witness to the seizure is available and can come to the appointment or be contacted later, this can be very helpful to the physician.
Learn about Facts and Treatments. Can Epilepsy Be Prevented? Many cases of epilepsy can be prevented by wearing seatbelts and bicycle helmets, putting children in car seats, and other measures that prevent head injury and other trauma. Prescribing medication after first or second seizures or febrile seizures also may help prevent epilepsy in some cases. Good prenatal care, including treatment of high blood pressure and infections during pregnancy, can prevent brain damage in the developing baby that may lead to epilepsy and other neurological problems later. Treating cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, infections, and other disorders that can affect the brain during adulthood and aging also may prevent many cases of epilepsy. Finally, identifying the genes for many neurological disorders can provide opportunities for genetic screening and prenatal diagnosis that may ultimately prevent many cases of epilepsy.
How Can Epilepsy Be Treated? Accurate diagnosis of the type of epilepsy a person has is crucial for. There are many different ways to treat epilepsy. Currently available treatments can control seizures at least some of the time in. However, another 2. United States, have intractable seizures, and another 4.
These statistics make it clear that improved treatments are desperately needed. Doctors who treat epilepsy come from many different fields of medicine. They include neurologists, pediatricians, pediatric neurologists, internists, and family physicians, as well as neurosurgeons and doctors called epileptologists who specialize in treating epilepsy. People who need specialized or intensive care for epilepsy may be treated at large medical centers and neurology clinics at hospitals or by neurologists in private practice.
Many epilepsy treatment centers are associated with university hospitals that perform research in addition to providing medical care. Once epilepsy is diagnosed, it is important to begin treatment as soon as possible. Research suggests that medication and other treatments may be less successful in treating epilepsy once seizures and their consequences become established. Medications. By far the most common approach to treating epilepsy is to prescribe antiepileptic drugs. The first effective antiepileptic drugs were bromides, introduced by an English physician named Sir Charles Locock in 1.
He noticed that bromides had a sedative effect and seemed to reduce seizures in some patients. More than 2. 0 different antiepileptic drugs are now on the market, all with different benefits and side effects. The choice of which drug to prescribe, and at what dosage, depends on many different factors, including the type of seizures a person has, the person's lifestyle and age, how frequently the seizures occur, and, for a woman, the likelihood that she will become pregnant. People with epilepsy should follow their doctor's advice and share any concerns they may have regarding their medication. Doctors seeing a patient with newly developed epilepsy often prescribe carbamazepine, valproate, lamotrigine, oxcarbazepine, or phenytoin first, unless the epilepsy is a type that is known to require a different kind of treatment.
For absence seizures, ethosuximide is often the primary treatment. Other commonly prescribed drugs include clonazepam, phenobarbital, and primidone. Some relatively new epilepsy drugs include tiagabine, gabapentin, topiramate, levetiracetam, and felbamate. Other drugs are used in combination with one of the standard drugs or for intractable seizures that do not respond to other medications. A few drugs, such as fosphenytoin, are approved for use only in hospital settings to treat specific problems such as status epilepticus (see section, “Are There Special Risks Associated With Epilepsy?”).
For people with stereotyped recurrent severe seizures that can be easily recognized by the person's family, the drug diazepam is now available as a gel that can be administered rectally by a family member. This method of drug delivery may be able to stop prolonged or repeated seizures before they develop into status epilepticus. For most people with epilepsy, seizures can be controlled with just one drug at the optimal dosage. Combining medications usually amplifies side effects such as fatigue and decreased appetite, so doctors usually prescribe monotherapy, or the use of just one drug, whenever possible. Combinations of drugs are sometimes prescribed if monotherapy fails to effectively control a patient's seizures. The number of times a person needs to take medication each day is usually determined by the drug's half- life, or the time it takes for half the drug dose to be metabolized or broken down into other substances in the body.
Some drugs, such as phenytoin and phenobarbital, only need to be taken once a day, while others such as valproate must be taken two or three times a day. Most side effects of antiepileptic drugs are relatively minor, such as fatigue, dizziness, or weight gain.