This occurs when there is abnormal electrical activity in the brain that causes changes in movement, sensation, or level of consciousness.
Seizures occur when there is abnormal electrical activity in the brain that causes changes in movement, sensation, or level of onsciousness. Epilepsy is another name for a seizure disorder. It is diagnosed when there have been at least two seizures not caused by a reversible condition, such as low blood sugar or alcohol withdrawal. According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) “the epilepsies are a spectrum of brain disorders ranging from severe, life-threatening and disabling, to ones that are much more benign. In epilepsy, the normal pattern of neuronal activity becomes disturbed, causing strange sensations, emotions, and behavior or sometimes convulsions, muscle spasms, and loss of consciousness.
There are many different types of seizures in adults and children, but they can generally be divided into generalized seizures and focal seizures (also known as partial or local seizures).
It is often difficult to determine the exact cause of recurrent seizures (epilepsy). Some possible causes include:
In addition, seizures are more common in younger children, older adults, and people who have a family history of seizures. Children who have seizures do not typically have a brain disorder and a cause is often not found. When a cause is present, seizures in children may be the result of fever, infection, head trauma, blood sugar that is to low or to high, lack of oxygen, poisoning (lead, mercury, strychnine, or insecticides), and an abnormal heart rhythm.
For someone who has a seizure disorder, seizures may be triggered by stress, missed anti-seizure medications, certain prescription or over-the-counter medications, alcohol withdrawal and drug use, lack of sleep, and menstruation. Prior to a seizure, some people have an “aura,” indicating a seizure is going to happen. An aura can be a variety of strange sensations, such as tingling, abnormal smells, flashing lights, or emotional changes. If you believe you have had a seizure, or a family member or companion observed a possible seizure, you should contact your healthcare provider immediately. He or she will do a physical examination and ask questions about your symptoms, including the duration of your seizures. Obtaining information from family members who were present during a seizure may be helpful.
Most patients with a seizure disorder can be managed as an outpatient. This care path includes the costs for inpatient evaluation and treatment of a seizure disorder. Inpatient care may be needed if seizures are not well controlled or resulted in a severe injury. An inpatient stay may also be necessary when someone requires prolonged observation with EEG monitoring. This procedure is often done to make a diagnosis of seizures, determine how well the seizure disorder is controlled, and to determine the effect of treatment.
If you have had a seizure, you should see your healthcare provider.
What should I ask my healthcare provider about my seizures?
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