A seizure is a sudden, uncontrolled electrical disturbance in the brain. It can cause changes in your behavior, movements or feelings, and in levels of consciousness. If you have two or more seizures or a tendency to have recurrent seizures, you have epilepsy.
Doctors generally classify seizures as either focal or generalized, based on how and where abnormal brain activity begins. Seizures may also be classified as unknown onset, if how the seizure began isn’t known.
There are many types of seizures, which range in severity. Seizure types vary by where and how they begin in the brain. Most seizures last from 30 seconds to two minutes. A seizure that lasts longer than five minutes is a medical emergency.
Seizures are more common and can happen after a stroke, a closed head injury, an infection such as meningitis or another illness. But it is again important to note that in many cases, the cause of a seizure is unknown.
Seizures are associated with symptoms that range from mild to severe and vary depending on the type of seizure.
The causes may include:
- High fever, which can be associated with an infection such as meningitis
- Lack of sleep
- Medications, such as certain pain relievers, antidepressants or smoking cessation therapies, that lower the seizure threshold
- Head trauma that causes an area of bleeding in the brain
- Brain tumor
- Illegal or recreational drugs, such as amphetamines or cocaine
- Alcohol abuse, during times of withdrawal or extreme intoxication
Patients are advised to seek immediate medical attention:
- Once your seizure lasts more than five minutes.
- Breathing or consciousness doesn’t return after the seizure stops.
- A second seizure follows immediately.
- You have a high fever.
- You’re experiencing heat exhaustion.
- You’re pregnant.
- You have diabetes.
- You’ve injured yourself during the seizure.
Your Health … Your Responsibility!
Seek medical advice, if you experience a seizure for the first time.
Most disorders can be controlled with medication, how you manage seizures will have a significant impact on your daily life. Work with your doctor to balance seizure control and medication side effects.