There are many different types of seizures, but seizures typically involve jerking and shaking movements or temporary loss of awareness. Seizures can be grouped into two different categories. Focal, or partial, seizures affect only one side of the brain while generalized seizures affect the entire brain. Seizures are caused by electrical disturbances within the brain, and if a person has 2 or more seizures at least 24 hours apart, he or she may have a disorder called epilepsy. Most seizures last in between 30 seconds and 2 minutes.
Seizures are caused by sudden electrical pulse disruptions within the brain. These disruptions may be caused by high fever, flashing lights or other verbal stimuli, menstrual periods, low blood sodium, lack of sleep, certain medications, head trauma, brain tumors, stroke, vascular abnormalities within the brain, certain autoimmune disorders, drug use, alcohol use, or COVID-19. Not everyone who has seizures has epilepsy, but risk factors for epilepsy include head injuries, stroke, vascular disease, age (children and older adults), family history, brain infections such as meningitis or encephalitis, and/or history of childhood seizures.
Symptoms of seizures include:
Jerking movements, especially in the arms or legs
Loss of consciousness
Loss of awareness
Anxiety, fear, and/or deja vu
Seizures and epilepsy are most commonly treated with antiepileptic medication prescribed by a healthcare professional. In some cases, especially in children, doctors may recommend a ketogenic diet high in fats and low in carbohydrates and protein. This diet should only be followed when instructed by a healthcare professional due to the impending risks of a high-fat diet. In severe cases, surgery or electrical stimulation may be required.
The best way to prevent seizures is to manage all fevers with over-the-counter medication, take precaution to prevent head injuries, take adequate care of all infants, control underlying conditions such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease, and practice good hygiene.
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Mayo Clinic Staff. (2021, March 31). Epilepsy. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/epilepsy/symptoms-causes/syc-20350093.
National Health Service. (2020, September 18). Epilepsy. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/epilepsy/.
U.S. National Library of Medicine. (2021, April 12). Seizures. MedlinePlus. https://medlineplus.gov/seizures.html.
World Health Organization. (2019, June 20). Epilepsy. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/epilepsy.