Epilepsy and Seizures
seizures

Epilepsy and Seizures

  • What are Seizures?

Electrical activity is happening in our brain all the time. A seizure happens when there is a sudden burst of intense electrical activity in the brain. In this information this intense electrical activity is called 'epileptic activity'.

  • Seizure types

There are many different types of seizure. They can be classed by where in the brain the epileptic activity starts.

  • Focal (partial) seizures

In these seizures, the epileptic activity starts in just a part of your brain. You may stay alert in this type of seizure. Or you may not know what is going on around you. Parts of your body may move and you can't stop it. Or you may have unusual sensations or feelings. Sometimes, other people may not be aware that you are having a seizure.

Focal seizures can be very brief or last for minutes. Sometimes, epileptic activity starts as a focal seizure, spreads to the rest of your brain and becomes a generalised seizure.

  • Generalised seizures

These seizures involve epileptic activity in both halves of your brain. You lose consciousness during this type of seizure, although sometimes it can be so brief that no one notices. Sometimes it can last for many minutes. The muscles in your body may stiffen and/or jerk. You may fall down.

  • Things that trigger seizures

Some things make seizures more likely for some people with epilepsy. These are often referred to as 'triggers'.

Triggers are things like stress, not sleeping well and drinking too much alcohol. Some people say they have more seizures if they miss meals. Not taking your epilepsy medicine is another common trigger. A very small number of people with epilepsy have seizures triggered by lights that flash or flicker.

Avoiding triggers lowers the risk of having a seizure.

Advice after a first seizure can be found here

Diagnosis and treatment of epilepsy

  • Diagnosis

One of the most important parts of getting the right treatment for your seizures is getting the right diagnosis. Doctors base their diagnosis on what they are told about your seizures.

It is very helpful to keep a detailed diary of your seizures. You can show this to your doctor. It is also very helpful for someone who has seen you have a seizure to go with you to see your doctor. They can tell the doctor what it was like.

If your doctor thinks you may have epilepsy, they should arrange for you to see a doctor that specialises in epilepsy. This is usually a neurologist (for adults) or a paediatrician (for children). This doctor will probably suggest you have some tests.

These tests may include blood tests, an EEG (recording of your brainwaves), and a brain scan. These tests can help the doctor work out the type and cause of the epilepsy. But there isn't a single test that can prove if you do or don't have epilepsy.

  • Treatment

The main treatment for epilepsy is epilepsy medicine. You may hear these medicines called anti-epileptic drugs or AEDs. The medicine doesn't cure epilepsy, but helps stop or reduce the number of seizures. Around 40 in every 100 people with epilepsy have their seizures stopped with the first epilepsy medicine they try.

 

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