All You Need To Know About Seizures

Overview | Types | Causes | Symptoms | Risks | Diagnosis | Treatment | Prevention

What is a seizure?

A seizure is a sudden and uncontrolled electrical disturbance that occurs in the brain. Seizures can cause changes in your behavior, feelings, movements, and consciousness. Its symptoms can be severe and noticeable, or there can be no symptoms at all, in some cases.

Seizures can be a sign of some severe underlying health condition, it need to be treated on time to save your life. If your seizure condition is severe, then you may experience some unpleasant symptoms such as loss of control and violent shaking etc. If you have experienced two or more seizures with a time gap of about 24 hours, without any known cause, then you may be suffering from epilepsy.

Among those who have seizure, 25% are caught by epilepsy. However, seizures attacks lasts maximum 2 -3 minutes, whereas epilepsy attacks can be 5 minutes long.

However, you must know that seizure is not a mental illness or retardation, and is not even contagious.

To fight seizure, one need to recognize it’s symptoms on time. Hence, here we are going to tell you all you need to know about seizures.

Types of seizures:

There areabout 30 types of seizures diagnosed by doctors till now. Moreover, the seizures are classifies into two main categories:

  • Focal seizures – It occurs only in one part of the brain. These seizures are described on the basis of the part of the brain where it is caused. For example, if your frontal lobe is the affected area of seizure, then it is called focal frontal lobe seizures. About 60% of the people who are surfing from epilepsy, have focal seizures. Focal seizures is also known as partial seizures. A person suffering from seizures experience symptoms such as sudden and unexplainable feeling of fear, anger, joy etc., nausea, hallucinations, etc.

In complex focal seizure, a person lost his/her consciousness. They starts repetitive weird practices like blinking, twitching, walking in a circle etc. These repetitive behaviors are called automatisms. Although, it lasts for about few seconds sometimes.

  • Generalized seizures: When a person suffers abnormal neuronal activities, both sides of the brain, then it is considered as generalized seizures. Falls, loss of consciousness, massive muscle spasms etc. are some of its effects. There are many types of generalized seizures and each type has its own symptoms.

It is a little bit hard to identify whether a person has focal or generalized seizure. Because, in some cases, seizures begin as focal (one part of the brain) but then they spreads all over the brain. Some individuals may also have both types of seizures but with unclear pattern.

Among many types of generalized seizures, some common ones are as follows:

  1. Tonic – clonic generalized seizure – Here, the word ‘tonic’ means muscles stiffening; and ‘Clonic’ means jerky arm and leg movements during conclusions. This type of seizure can lasts for few minutes and during these minutes, one can different symptoms along with loss of consciousness. Tonic – clonic seizures are also known as grand mal seizures.
  2. Atonic generalized seizures: It is also called drop attacks, may be due to its symptoms. It can lasts up to 15 seconds only, but during these seconds, survivor’s muscles could become lifeless, head may nod or the entire body could fall to the ground.
  3. Absence generalized seizure: As it’s name suggests, in this the patient may forget to blink and start staring into space, or may even blink repeatedly. It seems like the patient is day dreaming. Although, it lasts only few seconds. Petit – mal seizures are another name of this.

Causes of seizures:

Seizures can be provoked and unprovoked. Both has its own causes. When one’s seizure got triggered due to some conditions, it is considered as provoked and if conditions are unknown then it is considered as unprovoked.

Some causes of provoked seizures are:

  • Low blood sugar
  • Low level of sodium in blood
  • Alcohol withdrawal
  • Brain infection
  • Fever
  • Concussions

Some causes of unprovoked seizures are:

  • Unknown (mostly)
  • Brain tumor
  • Brain injury
  • Stress
  • Sleep deprivation 
  • Stroke etc.

Causes in babies and children:

  • Hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy
  • Central nervous system (CNS) infection
  • Congenital CNS abnormalities
  • Trauma
  • Metabolic disorders.
  • Febrile seizures

Causes in adolescence:

  • Sleep deprivation
  • Non – compliance with medication regime

Causes in adults:

  • Alcohol consumption
  • Trauma
  • Stroke
  • CNS infection
  • Brain tumor

Causes in old age:

  • Cerebrovascular disease
  • Head tumors
  • CNS
  • Degenerative disease like dementia.

Other causes:

  • Severe dehydration
  • High blood sodium
  • Low blood calcium
  • High blood urea
  • Genetic disorders
  • Cavernoma
  • Arteriovenous malformations
  • Overdose of medications
  • Infections like malaria
  • Head injury
  • High blood pressure etc.

Symptoms of seizures:

  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Sudden feeling of fear and anxiousness
  • Change in vision
  • Jerky movements of arms and legs
  • Out of body sensation.

Symptoms of progressive seizures are:

  • Loss of consciousness
  • Confusion
  • Falling
  • Uncontrolled muscles spasms
  • Drooling of the mouth
  • Biting of the tongue
  • Clenching your teeth
  • Making weird noises
  • Sudden eye movements
  • Sudden mood changes
  • Lost of control of bowel movements
  • A starting spell
  • Cognitive or emotional symptoms

Diagnosis:

The very first thing your doctor will ask about your condition is your medical history. To check the brain abnormalities you may have electroencephalogram (EEG). It can also diagnose different types of seizures. Then your doctor may prescribe some tests such as:

  1. Neurological test – To check the abnormalities of nervous systems
  2. Blood test – To check any type of infections and genetic conditions
  3. Imaging tests ( CT, MRI, PRT scan) – To check any type of cysts, tumours or lesions in the brain.

Treatment of seizures:

If you have experienced more than one seizures then your doctor may prescribe you some anti-seizure medications. Different medications can be prescribed based on the causes or types of seizure. You can also go with stimulation therapy, which can stimulate your brain and helps it to work normally. At last, if nothing works, you can opt for surgery, through which the affected area of the brain can be removed.

Prevention:  In most cases, seizures aren’t preventable. But a maintained healthy lifestyle can help you a lot to reduce the risk of seizure. Some tips are:

  •  Get a tight sleep. Don’t compromise with your sleep hours.
  • Have a healthy diet
  • Drink lots and loads of water
  • Engage in stress-reducing techniques
  • Avoid consumption of alcohol and drugs.
  • Take your medicines on time.
  • Exercise, meditate. Try yoga, especially deep breathing.
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