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:
- Generalized seizure disorder—affects both sides of the brain
- Partial seizure disorder (focal seizure)—affects only one part of the brain
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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:
- Eye blinking or staring into space
- Crying out
- Loss of consciousness
- Falling to the ground
- Muscle jerking or spasms
- Feelings of tiredness after the seizure has ended
Partial seizures may cause:
- Muscle twitching
- Sensing a strange taste or smell
- Confusion or a dazed feeling
- Inability to respond to questions or directions
The doctor will ask about symptoms and past health. A physical exam will be done. An appointment with a doctor who treats the nervous system and brain may be needed.
Brain activity may be tested. This can be done with an electroencephalogram (EEG). Images of the brain may be taken with:
The goals of treatment are stop seizures from happening. This may mean treating an underlying cause or avoiding triggers.
Most seizure disorders cannot be prevented.
Anti-seizure medicines may be given. More than one may be needed. It may take some time to find the right medicine and dose.
- Antiseizure medications for seizure disorders in adults. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/management/antiseizure-medications-for-seizure-disorders-in-adults.
- Epilepsy in adults. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/epilepsy-in-adults.
- Geller, E.B., Skarpaas, T.L., et al. Brain-responsive neurostimulation in patients with medically intractable mesial temporal lobe epilepsy. Epilepsia, 2017; 58(6): 994-1004.
- Serafini, A., Lukas, R.V., et al. Paraneoplastic epilepsy. Epilepsy Behav, 2016; 61: 51-58.
- Thijs, R.D., Surges, R., et al. Epilepsy in adults. Lancet, 2019 16; 393 (10172): 689-701.
- Rimas Lukas, MD
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