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Many living with a seizure disorder do not feel welcome because there are so many misconceptions about what a seizure is. This website is primarily dedicated to those who live with epilepsy or those who care for those who live with epilepsy. As the webmaster of this site, I have lived with epilepsy for over fifty-five years. Despite my having lived with epilepsy I am not an expert on the subject, nor do I extend medical advice. I am an expert on my experience that many others share. I hope this will serve as a forum for those outside and inside the medical community, to be honest about their experiences to address issues that often lead to myths and disbelief. Please visit the blog page to serve as a world to freel.

seizurefreelogo Many living with a seizure disorder do not feel welcome because there are so many misconceptions about what a seizure is. This website is primarily dedicated to those who live with epilepsy or those who care for those who live with epilepsy. As the webmaster of this site, I have lived with epilepsy over forty-five years. Despite my having lived with epilepsy I am not an expert on the subject, nor do I extend medical advice. I am an expert on my experience that many others share. It is my hope that this will serve as a forum for those outside and inside of the medical community to be honest about their experiences to address issues that often lead to myths and disbelief. Please visit the blog page to serve as a world to freely express yourself without judgment.

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Types of Seizures

When a disorder is defined by a characteristic group of features that usually occur together, it is called a syndrome. These features may include symptoms, which are problems that the patient will notice. They also may include signs, which are things that the doctor will find during the examination or with laboratory tests. Doctors and other health care professionals often use syndromes to describe a patient’s epilepsy.

Epilepsy syndromes are defined by a cluster of features. These features may include:

  • The type or types of seizures
  • The age at which the seizures begin
  • The causes of the seizures
  • Whether the seizures are inherited
  • The part of the brain involved
  • Factors that provoke seizures
  • How severe and how frequent the seizures are
  • A pattern of seizures by time of day
  • Certain patterns on the EEG, during seizures and between seizures
  • Other disorders in addition to seizures
  • The prospects for recovery or worsening

Not every syndrome will be defined by all these features, but most syndromes will be defined by a number of them. Classifying a patient’s epilepsy as belonging to a certain syndrome often provides information on what medications or other treatments will be most helpful. It also may help the doctor to predict whether the seizures will go into remission (lessen or disappear).

 

Topic Editor:Gregory L. Holmes, M.D.
Last Reviewed: 10/17/06

What is Epilepsy ?

Epilepsy is a general term for the tendency to have seizures. Epilepsy is usually diagnosed only after a person has had more than one seizure. When identifiable, the causes of epilepsy usually involve some form of injury to the brain. For most people, though, epilepsy’s causes aren’t known.

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Treatments for Epilepsy in Children

One option for some children with epilepsy is surgery. You may be frightened by the idea of your child having brain surgery. It’s definitely a treatment reserved for a select few. But while surgery for epilepsy may be a radical step, improvements have made these operations much safer and more effective. “In the old days, doctors would wait 20 years before trying surgery in a person with epilepsy who didn’t respond to medication,” says William R. Turk, MD, chief of the Neurology Division at the Nemours…

Read the Treatments for Epilepsy in Children article > >

Seizures and Epilepsy

A seizure occurs when a burst of electrical impulses in the brain escape their normal limits. They spread to neighboring areas and create an uncontrolled storm of electrical activity. The electrical impulses can be transmitted to the muscles, causing twitchesor convulsions.

Causes of Epilepsy

There are around 180,000 new cases of epilepsy each year. About 30% occur in children. Children and elderly adults are the ones most often affected. There is a clear cause for epilepsy in only a minority of the cases. Typically, the known causes of seizure involve some injury to the brain. Some of the main causes of epilepsy include:

  • low oxygen during birth
  • head injuries that occur during birth or from accidents during youth or adulthood
  • brain tumors
  • genetic conditions that result in brain injury, such as tuberous sclerosis
  • infections such as meningitis or encephalitis
  • stroke or any other type of damage to the brain
  • abnormal levels of substances such as sodium or blood sugar

In up to 70% of all case of epilepsy in adults and children, no cause can ever be discovered.

Causes of Seizures

Although the underlying causes of epilepsy are usually not known, certain factors are known to provoke seizures in people with epilepsy. Avoiding these triggers can help you avoid seizures and live better with epilepsy:

  • missing medication doses
  • heavy alcohol use
  • cocaine or other drug use, such as ecstasy
  • lack of sleep
  • other drugs that interfere with seizure medications

For about one out of every two women with epilepsy, seizures tend to occur more around the time of menstrual periods. Changing or adding certain drugs before menstrual periods can help.