Seizures

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Definition

What are seizures?

A seizure is a sudden, uncontrolled electrical disturbance in the brain. It can cause changes in your behavior, movements or feelings, and in levels of consciousness. If you have two or more seizures or a tendency to have recurrent seizures, you have epilepsy.

There are many types of seizures, which range in severity. Seizure types vary by where and how they begin in the brain. Most seizures last from 30 seconds to two minutes. A seizure that lasts longer than five minutes is a medical emergency.

Seizures can happen after a stroke, a closed head injury, an infection such as meningitis or another illness. Many times, though, the cause of a seizure is unknown.

Most seizure disorders can be controlled with medication, but management of seizures can still have a significant impact on your daily life. The good news is you can work with your health care professional to balance seizure control and medication side effects.

How common are seizures?

Seizures are common. They can occur in patients in any gender at any age. They can be managed by reducing your risk factors. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.

Which signs and symptoms can seizures usually be associated with?

Sometimes, symptoms occur before the seizure takes place. These include:

  • A sudden feeling of fear or anxiousness
  • A feeling of being sick to your stomach
  • Dizziness
  • A change in vision
  • A jerky movement of the arms and legs that may cause you to drop things
  • An out of body sensation
  • A headache

Symptoms that indicate a seizure is in progress include:

  • Losing consciousness, which is followed by confusion
  • Having uncontrollable muscle spasms
  • Drooling or frothing at the mouth
  • Falling
  • Having a strange taste in your mouth
  • Clenching your teeth
  • Biting your tongue
  • Having sudden, rapid eye movements
  • Making unusual noises, such as grunting
  • Losing control of bladder or bowel function
  • Having sudden mood changes

Causes

What causes seizures?

Nerve cells (neurons) in the brain create, send and receive electrical impulses, which allow the brain’s nerve cells to communicate. Anything that disrupts these communication pathways can lead to a seizure.

The most common cause of seizures is epilepsy. But not every person who has a seizure has epilepsy. Sometimes seizures happen because of:

  • High fever, which can be associated with an infection such as meningitis
  • Lack of sleep
  • Low blood sodium (hyponatremia), which can happen with diuretic therapy
  • Medications, such as certain pain relievers, antidepressants or smoking cessation therapies, that lower the seizure threshold
  • Head trauma that causes an area of bleeding in the brain
  • Stroke
  • Brain tumor
  • Illegal or recreational drugs, such as amphetamines or cocaine
  • Alcohol abuse, during times of withdrawal or extreme intoxication

The conditions mentioned above are some common causes of seizures. Consult with your doctor for an accurate diagnosis.

Risk factors

What increases my risk for seizures?

There are many risk factors for seizures, such as:

  • Small birth weight
  • A history ofseizures in the first month of life
  • Congenital abnormalities ofin the brain
  • Bleeding into the brain
  • Abnormal blood vessels in the brain
  • Serious brain injury or lack of oxygen to the brain
  • Brain tumors
  • Infections of the brain: abscess, meningitis, or encephalitis
  • Stroke resulting from blockage of arteries
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Conditions with intellectual and developmental disabilities
  • Seizures occurring within days after head injury (“early posttraumatic seizures”)
  • Family history of epilepsy or fever-related seizures
  • Alzheimer’s disease (late in the illness)
  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • Fever-related (febrile) seizures that are unusually long
  • Long episodes of seizures or repeated seizures called status epilepticus
  • Use of illegal drugs such as cocaine
  • Mild head injuries, such as a concussion with just a very brief loss of consciousness, do not cause epilepsy. Yet the effects of repeated mild head injuries and epilepsy is unknown.

Please consult with your doctor for further information.

When to see your doctor

When should I see my doctor?

You should contact your doctor if you or your loved one has any of the following:

  • The seizure lasts more than five minutes.
  • Breathing or consciousness doesn’t return after the seizure stops.
  • A second seizure follows immediately.
  • You have a high fever.
  • You’re experiencing heat exhaustion.
  • You’re pregnant.
  • You have diabetes.
  • You’ve injured yourself during the seizure.

If you experience a seizure for the first time, seek medical advice.

On noticing one of these symptoms or having any questions, please consult with your doctor. Everyone’s body acts differently. It is always best to discuss with your doctor to get the best solutions for your situation.

Lifestyle changes & home remedies

What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage seizures?

These following lifestyles and home remedies might help you cope with seizures:

  • Take medication correctly. Don’t adjust the dosage before talking to your doctor. If you feel your medication should be changed, discuss it with your doctor.
  • Get enough sleep. Lack of sleep can trigger seizures. Be sure to get adequate rest every night.
  • Wear a medical alert bracelet. This will help emergency personnel know how to treat you correctly if you have another seizure.
  • Be active. Exercising and being active may help keep you physically healthy and reduce depression. Make sure to drink enough water and rest if you get tired during exercise.
  • Make healthy life choices. Managing stress, limiting alcoholic beverages and avoiding cigarettes all factor in to a healthy lifestyle.
  • Take care near water. Don’t swim alone or relax in a boat without someone nearby.
  • Wear a helmet for protection during activities such as bike riding or sports participation.
  • Take showers instead of baths, unless someone is near you.
  • Modify your furnishings. Pad sharp corners, buy furniture with rounded edges and choose chairs that have arms to keep you from falling off the chair. Consider carpet with thick padding to protect you if you do fall.
  • Display seizure first-aid tips in a place where people can easily see them. Include any important phone numbers there, too.

If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor for the best solutions.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sources

Review Date: December 22, 2018 | Last Modified: December 22, 2018

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