Epileptic seizure: a mysterious ailment, but a very real one

If you’ve ever seen someone have an epileptic seizure, you know that it can be an unsettling experience. Did you feel powerless when faced with this uncontrolled reaction? Here is some information that will help you respond in the best possible manner, if faced with this situation again.

What is an epileptic seizure?

An epileptic seizure is the physical manifestation of an excessive and hypersynchronous (all the cells react at the same time, when they usually function alternately) neuronal discharge (in other words, of the nerve cells). Using the following analogy, we could say that there is a short circuit or storm in the person’s brain. The area of the brain where this action takes place determines the type of seizure the person will have.

Seizures usually happen suddenly and can be quite dramatic or unsettling. Others go unnoticed, manifesting themselves as brief absences or short-term sensory problems.

There are generally two types of seizures: partial onset seizures, which affect only a part of the brain and generalized seizures, which affect both hemispheres of the brain. Moreover, depending on the area of the brain where the seizure focus begins or the way in which the epilepsy manifests itself from a clinical standpoint, we will speak of:

  • simple partial seizure;
  • complex partial seizure;
  • tonic clonic seizure;
  • myoclonic seizure;
  • absence seizure;
  • etc.

How does an epileptic seizure manifest itself?

An epileptic seizure can take on many faces which may differ from one person to the next and from one type to another. However, here are a few examples of frequent signs and symptoms:

  • loss of consciousness;
  • loss of muscle tone;
  • fall;
  • memory lapse;
  • jerking of the arms, legs or the entire body;
  • hallucinations;
  • perspiration;
  • blank stare, no response to stimulation;
  • sudden interruption of a movement or action;
  • blinking of the eyes or chewing movements;

Why do epileptic seizures occur?

Epileptic seizure is due to an underlying neurological problem. A number of factors may contribute to it. Their frequency depends on the cause. In fact, individuals could have a single epileptic seizure in the course of their lifetime, while others could have several over a long period of time.

Here are a few examples of factors that could trigger a seizure:

  • high fever;
  • brain tumor;
  • trauma or injury to the head;
  • intoxication (alcohol, medication or drug);
  • infection (i.e. meningitis);
  • lack of oxygen in the blood;
  • neurological disorder (i.e. stroke or cerebrovascular accident, CVA).

What is epilepsy as a chronic disease?

Anyone can have an epileptic seizure once in their lifetime. However, an individual is considered to have epilepsy when repeated seizures occur. Epilepsy is neurological disorder, it is not a mental or psychological disease, contrary to past beliefs. It often causes a feeling of anxiety because the seizures can occur unexpectedly at the worst moments: on the road, during an oral presentation, during a swim or when taking care of a baby, etc.

Fortunately, today it is possible to prevent epileptic seizures with the help of medical treatments, more specifically, medications called “antiepileptics”. To be effective, antiepileptics must be taken daily. You should not stop treatment unless your doctor tells you otherwise. For more information on epilepsy and its treatments, talk to your doctor or your pharmacist.

Tips on how to deal with an epileptic seizure

If someone has an epileptic seizure in your presence, here is what you can do:

  • Try to remain as calm as possible, seizures can sometimes be very distressing.
  • If the person is standing, don’t do anything. Don’t try to change his/her position.
  • Move away any objects that could be a danger to the person.
  • Let the seizure follow its course; there’s nothing you can do to stop it.
  • If the person is unconscious, turn him/her on the side. If possible, put something under the head to support it. Make sure it is slightly tilted backwards (to free the airways) and that it is stable (to avoid injury).
  • Check if the person is able to breathe.
  • Don’t put anything between the teeth or inside the person’s mouth. This is unnecessary and could be dangerous for the person or for you.
  • Stay close to the person until he/she has completely recovered.
  • Remember that a seizure lasts less than three minutes in most cases.
  • If several seizures follow one another, if a seizure lasts more than five minutes or if the person has trouble breathing or is injured, call emergency services right away.
  • Don’t try to carry the person during a seizure.

Watch for warning signs of a seizure. Some people have them, others don’t and they may differ from one seizure to the next. Here are a few examples: stomach problems, headache, dizziness, vision problems, taste and smell perception, etc.

If you or someone close to you must deal with epileptic seizures, get as much information as possible on the subject and, if needed, talk to a health professional. If you must take an antiepileptic, remember that your pharmacist is the most valuable source of information in terms of medication.

×

Send to a friend

Epileptic seizure: a mysterious ailment, but a very real one

If you’ve ever seen someone have an epileptic seizure, you know that it can be an unsettling experience. Did you feel powerless when faced with this uncontrolled reaction? Here is some information that will help you respond in the best possible manner, if faced with this situation again.
From:
To:

Loading...