A seizure happens when a sudden, abnormal surge of electrical activity happens in the brain, causing temporary dysfunction. Most people think of seizures as uncontrollable convulsions, but a seizure can also cause the affected person to stare blankly or experience a brief loss of consciousness.
There are several different types of seizures, most of which fall into two general categories:
These seizures, also called partial seizures, happen in just one part of the brain. When a person is awake during this type of seizure, it’s called a focal onset aware seizure. When a person is confused or unaware of what’s happening, it’s called a focal onset impaired awareness seizure.
These seizures are a result of abnormal activity on both sides of the brain. There are many types of seizures that fall into this category, including absence seizures and tonic-clonic seizures.
Most seizures last from 30 seconds to two minutes and don’t cause long-term problems or complications. A seizure that lasts longer than five minutes, or multiple seizures that occur while a person remains unconscious should be treated as medical emergencies.
Seizures can have many causes which tend to vary by age. Seizures in newborns may be due to brain malformations, a lack of oxygen at birth, or an intracranial hemorrhage, among other things. High fevers and infection are two common causes of seizures in children, while head trauma and certain diseases and medications may play a role in adult seizures.
People who experience two or more unprovoked seizures that are at least 24 hours apart are usually diagnosed with epilepsy, a seizure disorder.
Many people who are affected by recurrent, unprovoked seizures, also known as epilepsy, notice that certain factors seem to trigger their seizures. Some people tend to only have seizures at a certain time of day or night, for example, while others know they can probably expect a seizure when they’re under a lot of stress. Other common triggers include:
Although seizure treatment depends on a proper diagnosis, patients who suffer from recurrent seizures can usually benefit from anti-epileptic medications, which are designed to reduce or eliminate seizures. Dr. Alberto Pinzon, who is the in-office, Board Certfied epileptologist at The Neurology Group, can help you find the right dosage of medication or combination of medications to help you become seizure-free over time.