Seizures are a medical condition that can have many causes and manifest in a number of ways. Defined by a sudden surge of electrical activity in the brain, seizure victims can experience intense physical muscle contractions or appear to simply be lost in a fog during the time the seizure is controlling their body and mind.
Current data from the Epilepsy Foundation points to 1 in every 26 people in the United States developing epilepsy at some point in their lifetime. As one of the oldest medical conditions in history, epilepsy is still not widely discussed or understood by those who do not suffer from it. In fact, many people who witness someone having a seizure become frightened and do not know how to treat the person with the condition during or after their episode.
Epilepsy is a condition that refers to the tendency for a person to have seizures, and it does not any other medical issues beyond this. Typically, epilepsy can be diagnosed after a person has their first seizure. Modern medicine still does not have a definite root cause of seizures, or why some people experience them, though there is plenty of data to explain what happens in the brain during a seizure episode.
Causes of Seizures
Seizures can result unexpectedly in individuals who have experienced no particular trauma, but they are commonly the result of some physical harm that has been done to a person’s body or brain. Using drugs such as cocaine, ecstasy, or abusing alcohol can also create a tendency for seizures in individuals who do so.
Some of the most common causes of seizures from the negligence of others include:
Seizures can vary in length and severity, so it is important to record the duration and intensity of a seizure to gauge the condition and monitor whether it is worsening. Typically, when a seizure starts the individual who is experiencing will be fine as long as any sharp or harmful objects are removed from their vicinity, they are not physically restrained, and nothing is placed in their mouth.
After a seizure, turn the person on their side to facilitate breathing and clear an obstructed airway, and do not leave them alone. They may be unaware of what happened and comforting the person calmly is the best way to assist them in recovering. Emergency services usually do not need to be called unless another seizure begins immediate after the first ends, or if the seizure lasts longer than five minutes.
Also, gently check for injuries, as a person may hurt themselves while the seizure takes control of their body and brain. Broken bones, neck trauma, lacerations or bruising can occur.
Seizures are divided into two broad categories, generalized or partial. These headings refer to the types of behavior the person displays during the seizure and their brain activity. These classifications help doctors understand whether or not a patient has epilepsy.
Generalized seizures and their respective symptoms include:
- Grand Mal: Unconsciousness; muscle rigidity; convulsions
- Absence: Brief loss of consciousness
- Myoclonic: Isolated jerking movements
- Clonic: Repetitive jerking movements
- Tonic: Muscle stiffness and rigidity
- Atonic: Loss of muscle tone
Partial seizures and their respective symptoms include:
- Simple: Individual stays conscious and aware of situation
- Simple Motor: Jerking; muscle rigidity; spasms; head turning
- Simple Sensory: Unusual perception through one of the senses
- Simple Psychological: Emotional or memory disturbances
- Complex: Repetitive, involuntary but coordination actions such as lip smacking, chewing, fidgeting, walking, etc.
- Partial with secondary generalization: Individual retains consciousness during partial seizure behaviors then devolves into unconsciousness
Children very often experience small seizures that they may be completely unaware of except they may exhibit signs such as halting all activity and staring blankly. Afterward, the child may not remember anything, and if this is the case it is important to comfort and reassure them.