Seizures & Epilepsy
What is it? How does it happen?
A seizure is a “misfiring” of the neurons in the brain. The brain communicates through electrical impulses, and when they fire an impulse inappropriately, it is like a lit match. On its own, a lit match may not be damaging. However, if that lit match is dropped in a forest, it may cause a forest fire. Seizure, then is akin to the forest fire- which can cause widespread damage. This is why it is so important to treat seizures, as they can causes irreversible brain damage or death.
Seizures can be tricky to diagnose. Not all seizures are like the ones depicted in Hollywood- and some can be quite subtle. If you’re concerned about the possibility of a seizure, please consult with a doctor.
Epilepsy is a condition where you have more than just one seizure during your lifetime. A clinician (usually a neurologist) will search high and low for the cause of your seizures, which can be useful when treating or preventing seizures.
What Does a Seizure feel like?
Signs and symptoms
- Sudden loss of consciousness
- tongue biting
- loss of bladder or bowel control
- rhythmic shaking or twitching
- staring spells
- spells of confusion with complete clearing between spells
- drop attacks
Who typically gets it?
There are a number of risk factors for seizure; some are related to your lifestyle, but some are out of your control, such as genetics. Here, we will talk about some of the most common seizure risk factors.
What can be done if I had a seizure?
If you see someone having a seizure, call 911. Remove any objects around them that may cause harm. Do not place anything in their mouth- they cannot swallow their tongue (old wives' tale). Watch the clock- EMS will need to know how long they have been seizing.
In an emergency situation, oftentimes benzodiazepines are the earliest and most frequent medication used. They calm the overactivity of the brain.
There are a variety of anti-seizure medications. Your doctor will take into account your particular seizure type and clinical picture in order to choose the right medication. Some patients require only one anti-seizure medication, but others may require 2 or 3 anti-seizure medications to control their seizures. In an emergency situation, your doctor may be limited to IV medications, but once stabilized, your options widen significantly.
Vagal Nerve Stimulators and Epilepsy Surgery
These are not emergency options, necessarily, but become an option once stabilized. Your doctor will seek the consultation of an epilepsy specialist and a neurosurgeon in order to determine who may be the best candidate for these options. Typically, this treatment category is reserved for those who suffer recurrent, refractory seizures despite multiple seizure medications.
How can MIND help?
Not only do we consult on your case to perform a Root Cause Analysis, you will also learn new habits to prevent seizure recurrence.
The Bottom Line
Seizure can be life threatening. It is a medical emergency. If you or someone you know may be having a seizure, call 911!
If you’ve had more than one seizure, it’s time to see a neurologist. There can be many ways to treat seizures. Anti-Seizure Medications play an important role in treatment, and there are many, many complementary options, as well.
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