What is an Epileptic Seizure?

M.C. Huguelet
M.C. Huguelet
EEG tests may be ordered to identify abnormal brain activity that leads epileptic seizures.
EEG tests may be ordered to identify abnormal brain activity that leads epileptic seizures.

An epileptic seizure is a recurring episode in which the brain’s electrical activity becomes disturbed, resulting in a number of possible physical symptoms such as convulsions, confusion, numbness, and loss of consciousness. Most health experts classify an epileptic seizure as either generalized or partial, depending on whether it originates throughout the entire brain or in one particular spot. Many individuals with epilepsy can reduce or even eliminate the occurrence of seizures through the use of medications or surgery. Those who witness an epileptic seizure can help protect the seizing individual’s safety by clearing away dangerous objects and avoiding restraining his movements.

The underlying cause of epileptic seizure is the temporary disturbance of the brain’s normal electrical activity. This disturbance in turn stimulates the brain’s nerve cells in an abnormal way, causing them to send inappropriate signals to other parts of the body. When this electrical disturbance and resultant seizing happens on a recurring basis, it is known as epilepsy. It should be noted that approximately 4 percent of the population will suffer an isolated seizure at some stage in their lives. However, only those who experience repeated seizures are considered epileptic.

Most health experts divide epileptic seizures into two categories: generalized and partial. These categories refer to the place in which the electrical disturbance that caused the seizure originated. Generalized seizures affect the entire brain from the time they begin. Partial seizures begin in one part of the brain, although additional parts of the brain may be affected once the seizure has started.

Symptoms of an epileptic seizure can vary widely from person to person and from one seizure to another. Common symptoms of mild seizures include numbness, slurred speech, finger twitching, and increased blinking. In some cases, an epileptic seizure may be so mild that only the sufferer is aware of it. Conversely, severe epileptic seizures can cause extreme physical symptoms such as violent jerking, falling to the ground, and loss of consciousness. No matter the severity of the symptoms, most seizures last between a few seconds and a few minutes.

Many individuals with epilepsy can successfully reduce or even eliminate the occurrence of seizures through the use of medications or surgery. Some health experts believe that altering the diet to include large amounts of fat and minimal amounts of carbohydrates can also help control seizures. Certain individuals who developed epilepsy during infancy or childhood may find that their seizures decrease or even disappear as they reach adulthood.

Those who witness an epileptic seizure should try to remain calm and protect the seizing individual’s safety. They should clear away any dangerous objects that the individual may hurt himself on during his seizure. Further, they should avoid putting anything into the individual’s mouth or attempting to restrain him. Should the seizure last for more than five or six minutes, they should seek emergency medical assistance.

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    • EEG tests may be ordered to identify abnormal brain activity that leads epileptic seizures.
      By: Tobilander
      EEG tests may be ordered to identify abnormal brain activity that leads epileptic seizures.