What is Epilepsy? What is a Seizure
Epilepsy is a chronic disorder of the brain characterized by recurrent seizures. A person is diagnosed with epilepsy when they have had two or more seizures.
Seizures are brief episodes of involuntary movement that may involve a part of or the entire body, and are sometimes accompanied by loss of consciousness and control of bowel or bladder function.
A seizure may last from a few seconds to a few minutes and can vary in frequency, from 1 per year to several per day.
What causes Epilepsy?
- Epilepsy is not contagious.
- The cause is unknown in 60-70% of cases.
- When the cause is determined, the four most common are head trauma, stroke, brain tumor and brain infection.
- Other causes include drug effects or intoxication, genetic disorders, and metabolic disturbances.
What are the Symptoms and Signs of a Seizure?
- Examples of symptoms are loss of awareness, mental confusion, speech impairment, numbness or tingling sensations, hallucinations, abdominal discomfort, jerking movements, and/or convulsions
- Other people having a seizure may just look like they are starting at something that isn’t there.
How is Epilepsy Treated?
Anti-seizure or anti-epileptic drugs are the primary treatment to control seizures. For some, surgery may be an option.
First aid for Seizures
- Seizures without any change in awareness
- Usually, you don’t need to do anything.
- Stay calm and reassure the person they are safe.
- Encourage slow deep breaths or do something that is calming or relaxing.
- Stay with the person until the seizure is over
- Seizures with altered awareness
- Assist the person to a safe place.
- Stay with the person and don’t let them wander away.
- Keep the person away from sharp objects or dangerous places.
- Repeat instructions on what they should do. Do not assume that they can talk or hear you.
- Make sure they are alert before they are left alone.
- Seizures with loss of consciousness
- Time the seizure. Call for medical help if it lasts 5 minutes or longer.
- Protect the person from injury but don’t restrain their movements.
- Watch their breathing – turn them on the side to help keep the airway open.
- Don’t put anything in their mouth.