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Basic Facts on Epilepsy

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.

Disclaimer: Insular Health Care, Inc. disclaims any liability or responsibility for the consequences of any actions taken in reliance on the health advisory or safety tips. The health-related materials contained herein are not intended to establish policy, procedure or standard of care.

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.

References:

  • http://www.cdc.gov/epilepsy/basics/faq.htm
  • https://www.aesnet.org/clinical_resources/faqs
  • http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets

 

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