by Cynthia M. Johnson, MA
A seizure is sudden and abnormal electrical activity in the brain. A seizure disorder is when a person has two or more seizures that are not due to illness or another trigger. This is also known as epilepsy.
Seizures are classified into two groups:
Seizures happen because of abnormal brain activity. For many people, it is not known why this happens. Some known causes are:
Things that may raise the risk of this disorder are:
Symptoms depend on the type of seizures that a person has.
Generalized seizures may cause:
Partial seizures may cause:
You will be asked about your symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done. You may need to see a doctor who treats the nervous system and brain.
Blood tests may be done.
Brain activity may be tested. This can be done with an electroencephalogram (EEG).
Images may be taken. This can be done with:
The goals of treatment are to:
Anti-seizure medicines may be given. More than one may be needed.
Surgery may be needed in people who are not helped by medicine. It will be done to remove the part of the brain that starts the seizures. It is only an option for people who have seizures that affect specific parts of the brain.
Devices may be implanted to manage seizures. Some may be used with medicine. These are:
In some people, following a strict diet that is rich in fats and low in carbohydrates and protein may reduce seizures. This is called a ketogenic diet. It is not known why it helps. . It is more helpful in children than adults.
Avoiding seizure triggers may help some people. The triggers my differ from person to person. Some triggers may be:
The risk of seizure disorder may be lowered by:
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
Center for Epilepsy and Seizure Education
Antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) for seizure disorders. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/management/antiepileptic-drugs-aeds-for-seizure-disorders-in-adults. Accessed January 27, 2021.
Epilepsy in Adults. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/epilepsy-in-adults. Accessed January 27, 2021.
Geller EB, Skarpaas TL, Gross RE, et al. Brain-responsive neurostimulation in patients with medically intractable mesial temporal lobe epilepsy. Epilepsia. 2017;58(6):994-1004.
Serafini A, Lukas RV, VanHaerents S, et al. Paraneoplastic epilepsy. Epilepsy Behav. 2016;61:51-58.
Thijs RD, Surges R, et al. Epilepsy in adults. Lancet. 2019 Feb 16;393(10172):689-701.
Last reviewed December 2020 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Rimas Lukas, MD
Last Updated: 1/28/2021
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