Seizure disorders are caused by abnormal electrical changes in the brain. Symptoms of seizures and their duration can range from a momentary disruption of the senses, to short episodes of unconsciousness or staring, to convulsions. Most seizure disorders, such as Epilepsy, are successfully controlled with medications. In some cases, when diagnosed early, seizures can be cured with medication. The key is early treatment and correct medication.
There are many different types of seizures, depending on which part and how much of the brain is affected by the electrical disturbance.
Partial seizures affect only one side of the brain. These include simple partial (no loss of consciousness) and complex partial (loss of or impaired consciousness). Complex partial seizures are the most common type of seizure disorder and can progress into Grand-mal seizures (Generalized).
Generalized seizures affect both sides of the brain. These include:
Status epilepticus is a medical emergency when seizures develop into a non-stop state that requires medical intervention to end.
Non-epileptic seizures, also referred to as pseudoseizures, are episodic events not related to abnormal electrical activity in the brain. They are psychological in nature.
Source: Epilepsy Foundation website, www.epilepsyfoundation.org, accessed March 12, 2013.
Auras are early signs of a seizure that may occur minutes or seconds before a seizure begins. Some include:
Smells, hearing changes, auditory and visual hallucinations, taste changes, blurred vision, stomach sensations, strange feelings, tingling sensations, numbness, nausea, dizziness, light-headedness, headaches, Déjà vu, and Jamais vu.
Seizures are characterized by clinical changes that can be detected through physical changes and or verified with EEG monitors. These clinical changes may include:
Loss of consciousness, confusion, loss of sight, hearing loss, full body weakness, one extremity weakness, blurred vision, increased heart rate, lip smacking, chewing motions, pelvic thrusting, catatonia, convulsions, slurred speech, inability to interpret speech, inability to verbalize intended words, repetitive movements of hands and feet, urine or bowel loss, involuntary movements, eyes rolling in any direction, staring, any impairment in awareness, facial weakness, low muscle tone, frequent unexplainable falls, weird outburst of yelling, sounds, uncontrollable laughs, teeth grinding or clenching, shaking, jerking, tongue biting, tremors, labored or troubled breathing, memory loss of time or events, and paralysis.
Patients with seizure disorders that are not well controlled may benefit from evaluation via long term video/EEG monitoring. This study, performed over several days in Baptist’s EEG unit, combines video recording to document how seizures affect the patient, and EEG monitoring to record brain activity. Physicians conduct the study to pinpoint the exact location in the brain where seizures originate to fine-tune treatment, including medication selection and dosage.
EEG, or electroencephalogram, is a test that measures the electrical activity of the brain. Electrodes, round metal sensors, are placed on the scalp with an adhesive that will secure the electrodes through daily activities, including sleep. (The adhesive is water-soluble and the patient will need to wash his/her hair at the end of test.) Wires attached to the electrodes are connected to a device that detects the brain's electrical activity and converts it into patterns, recorded as waves, seen on a computer.
By recording both the patient’s behavior and the brain’s activity over several days, physicians are able to provide a definitive diagnosis of epilepsy, differentiate between types of seizures, adjust seizure medications, and determine if a patient can discontinue medication.
If you would like to be treated at Baptist for seizures, the first step is being seen by one of our neurologists. Your physician can make arrangements for this appointment.
See Neurologists on staff at Baptist
If you still have questions about treatment for seizure disorders at Baptist, please call our Health Line. Nurses and other professionals there can help you decide your next steps. Call 601-948-6262 or 1-800-948-6262. Or, use the Contact Us link to send your question.
1. Protect the person from injury.
2. Roll the person to his/her side until convulsions have ended.
3. Note the elapsed time: when the seizure started and when it ended.
4. If a seizure lasts longer than five minutes CALL 911.
5. Watch the person and remember what you saw. This can be very helpful to the physician later. (This will answer the questions the doctor will ask.)
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