Epilepsy

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What Is Epilepsy?

Epilepsy is a neurological condition involving the brain that makes people more susceptible to having recurrent, unprovoked seizures. A seizure occurs when part(s) of the brain receives a burst of abnormal electrical signals that temporarily interrupts normal brain function.

Anything that interrupts the normal connections between nerve cells in the brain can cause a seizure. This includes a high fever, low blood sugar, high blood sugar, alcohol or drug withdrawal, or a brain concussion. However, when a person has two or more unprovoked seizures, he or she is considered to have epilepsy.

There are many possible causes of epilepsy, including an imbalance of nerve-signaling chemicals called neurotransmitters, tumors, strokes and brain damage from illness or injury, or some combination of these. Seizures may also be related to a previous traumatic event or psychiatric illness.

 

Types of Seizures

The type of seizure depends on which part, and how much, of the brain is affected and what happens during the seizure. An individual may have more than one type of seizure and the length may vary. Two broad categories of epileptic seizures are generalized and partial. Within these categories, there are several different types.

The type of seizure depends on which part, and how much, of the brain is affected and what happens during the seizure. An individual may have more than one type of seizure and the length may vary. Two broad categories of epileptic seizures are generalized and partial. Within these categories, there are several different types.

General symptoms or warning signs of a seizure may include staring, jerking movements of the arms or legs, stiffening of the body, loss of consciousness, breathing problems, loss of bowel or bladder control, not responding to noise or words, appearing confused or in a daze, rapid eye blinking, or other sensory and behavioral abnormalities.

Sometimes there are minimal to no external signs. Some, but not all, have a preceding warning (aura). The full extent of the seizure may not be completely understood immediately after onset of symptoms, but may be revealed with a comprehensive medical evaluation and diagnostic testing.

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