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more about Seizures

Epilepsy, Convulsions, fits, and spells

  • The brain transmits and stores information somewhat like electrical circuitry.  When abnormal electrical activity or a "short circuit" occurs in the brain "wiring," a seizure occurs. This abnormal electrical brain activity is transmitted to the rest of the body as incorrect signals -- resulting in abnormal muscle activity (convulsion), fainting, breathing abnormalities, etc.  Specific symptoms usually correlate to the part of the brain where the abnormal electrical activity initiated.

  • Seizure Types:

  • Simple partial Seizures -- jerking localized on one side of the body, light flashing, or hallucinations
  • Complex partial Seizures -- same symptoms as simple partial Seizures, but with impaired consciousness (i.e., fainting or confusion)
  • Absence (Petit Mal) Seizures -- brief episodes (a few seconds) of loss of attention and loss of consciousness (sometimes with fainting).  The individual appears to "space out" for a few seconds.
  • Myoclonic Seizures -- muscle jerking
  • Tonic -- clonic (Grand Mal)-sudden loss of consciousness, body rigidity, falling to the ground, diffuse muscle jerking.  Lip/tongue biting and urinary/fecal incontinence may occur.  Sleep usually follows a Grand Mal seizure.
  • Status epilepticus -- continuous grand mal Seizures, one after another

  • Idiopathic (Unknown)
  • Birth injuries
  • Metabolic Disorders
  • Head trauma
  • Brain Tumors
  • Strokes
  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Encephalitis
  • Eclampsia
  • Heat Stroke
  • Drugs abuse or withdrawal
  • Stimuli such as flashes of light or sound
  • Meningitis
  • Fevers
  • Certain medications
  • Alcohol ingestion
  • Alcohol withdrawal
  • Low Blood Sugar

  • CT scan or MRI to look for brain abnormalities
  • Electroencephalogram (EEG) -- a brain electrical study
  • Video monitoring of the patient combined with EEG in some cases
  • Blood tests:
    1. Sodium, Calcium, Magnesium levels
    2. Glucose level
    3. Kidney and liver function

  • Depends on type of seizure. Common medications include Dilantin, Phenobarbital, and Valproic acid.
  • Surgical treatment (removal of brain focus) if all medications fail
  • Status epilepticus is a life threatening emergency -- treatment usually involves airway protection, glucose injection, Diazepam or lorazepam intravenously, and Dilantin intravenously.

  • Seizure Precautions

  • Individuals with Seizures should not drive or operate dangerous equipment unless Seizures are properly controlled.  This should be determined by a neurologist.  Only a physician (usually a neurologist) can determine when and if a person should discontinue seizure medications.

more about Seizures

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