Patient's Complete Guide to Seizures
Overview of Seizures
Seizures are very common and can happen after a trauma to the brain or a brain injury. Usually, seizures last from 30 seconds to 2 minutes. Duration of more than 5 minutes is deemed a medical emergency.
Seizures can affect the daily life of a person greatly. The management of seizures can have a big impact on a person’s life. Seizures can be controlled by professional help and medication.
A person after a seizure looks very confused and disoriented and is unaware of their surroundings. Seizures can cause a person to fall or shake.
Signs and Symptoms of Seizures
Symptoms can vary depending on the type of seizure, including:
- Uncontrollable muscle movements
- Spasms or jerks
- Stiffening and the loosening of the muscles and limbs
- Loss of consciousness
- Staring into space
- Rapid blinking
- Falling to the ground
Types of Seizures
Seizures are classified into two major groups depending on the severity and location.
1. Generalized Seizures
Generalized seizures affect both sides of the brain. It can involve the entire brain.
These seizures can cause rapid blinking or for a person to stare into space for a few seconds. It is also called petit mal seizures.
A person may lose consciousness, have severe jerks or spasms, fall, or cry out. It leaves a person feeling tired. It is also called grand mal seizures.
These seizures occur in children due to a high fever caused by an infection. They are usually harmless and can last up to a few minutes.
They stop by the time a child reaches the age of 4. They cause the body to stiffen and the head to fall forward. Infantile seizures can cause epilepsy in later life.
2. Partial or Focal Seizures
They are located in one area of the brain.
Simple Focal Seizures
They affect a small part of the brain causing twitching or change in sensation.
Complex Focal Seizures
They cause the person to become disoriented, confused, or dazed. The person is unable to respond to questions for a few minutes.
Secondary Generalized Seizures
It starts in one part of the brain and spreads to both sides of the brain. A focal seizure is followed by a generalized seizure.
Causes of Seizures
Seizures can happen anytime, causes include:
- Brain tumour
- Electrolyte imbalance
- Certain medications
- Narcotics usage
- High fever
- Brain infections
Risk Factors of Seizures
These given below factors may increase the risk of seizures:
Seizures are more common in children and older adults. But this condition can occur at any age.
Previous Family History
In the case of family history, the chances of epilepsy are increased.
Stroke and other types of vascular diseases can cause severe brain damage.
Cognitive Memory Decline
Dementia also increases the risk of seizures.
Meningitis is an inflammation in the brain and spinal cord. This condition can worsen or can lead to severe cases of migraine.
Complications of Seizures
Complications of seizures are as follows:
People who have epilepsy are highly prone to drown in swimming pools. This is because of the fact that the occurrence of seizures is high.
Epilepsy can lead to severe road accidents if a person suffers from seizures on the road.
Seizures are dangerous and they become especially fatal during the pregnancy period. The consumption of antiepileptic drugs can lead to birth defects.
Seizures can also increase the chance of a person falling from a high storey building.
People who have epilepsy are more drawn to psychological issues such as anxiety or depression. Medications can play an important role. This condition can be controlled. But even people with controlled epilepsy are at increased risk.
Following are the preventive tips of seizures that you need to know:
- Make sure to take prescribed medicines
- Avoid alcohol misuse
- Avoid drug consumption
- Make sure to practice stress management
- Stick to a proper sleep schedule
- Eat a balanced meal
- Lower the risk of head injuries or fatal trauma
A neurological exam is conducted and details about the seizures are asked. Other tests done to confirm the diagnosis include:
- Blood tests
- Imaging tests
Treatment of Seizures | When to Consult a Doctor
If only one seizure occurs no treatment is required. If the seizures continue, treatment methods include:
MedicationsAnti-seizure medications are given to control seizures. They can have major side effects.
SurgeryIf seizures are localized, the portion of the brain might be removed to stop seizures completely.
Vagus Nerve StimulationA device is implanted which sends signals through the vagus nerve to the brain and limits seizures.
Responsive Nerve StimulationA device is implanted in the brain which detects the seizures and stops them completely.
Deep Brain StimulationDevices are put in certain brain areas that help prevent or stop seizures.
Seizures can affect a person on a very deep level. It is important to control them at the beginning before they take the form of epilepsy.