Seizures occur because of abnormal activity in the brain and are a sign that there is an underlying neurological issue. Seizures are normally diagnosed after more than one seizure. Any seizure will require a thorough medical exam because they can cause dangerous situations, like accidents when driving or drowning when swimming, and severe falls. It is important to know how seizures can affect your life and understand what treatment options are available.
The effect of a seizure often varies depending on the type and the length. The types of seizures include focal seizures, which occur in a limited portion of the brain, and generalized seizures caused by electrical changes in both sides of the brain.
Seizures are normally caused by an underlying health condition, such as head injury, changes in blood sugar, infections or even drug overdose. Some brain tumors may also affect the health of the brain because of changes in electrical discharge. The underlying factor is that if there is a change in oxygen, it can cause a seizure.
Epilepsy affects the body in different ways and can cause spells of starting, confusion, jerking movements and even sudden loss of consciousness. Although seizures or epilepsy can cause convulsions, not all seizures cause the body to shake. For some, seizures can affect emotion and sensory perception, such as how things smell, taste and sound. There may be jerking in parts of the body accompanied by tingling and dizziness. Some types of seizures cause a loss of muscle tone, stiffening of the body or incontinence.
Although seizures are normally not life-threatening if controlled properly, they can cause serious complications and even death. Status epilepticus is a type of seizure that lasts for more than five minutes or causes repetitive seizures and the brain is not able to regain consciousness. Some who suffer from status epilepticus can have a higher risk of brain damage and/or death. If someone does not have epilepsy managed by medication or other treatments, there can be a risk for sudden death.
According to Merck, the majority of seizures only last a couple of minutes. When the seizure stops, physical side effects include headache, sore or painful muscles, strange sensations, confusion and fatigue.Some seizure patients suffer from weakness or paralysis. Some of the post-seizure effects depend on where the abnormal electrical problems are in the brain. For instance, if a portion of the cerebrum was affected, it can cause problems in taste. The occipital lobe can cause hallucinations.
Having the right medication can help control the seizures, and many who undergo treatment may be able to be medication-free after a couple of years of treatment. Anti-seizure drugs do have some side effects, so it is important to monitor reactions. Side effects include fatigue, vertigo, weight changes, speech issues, coordination changes, rashes and bone density loss. Some of the rare effects include organ inflammation, changes in emotion and thoughts and depression.
Surgery may be performed to help reduce seizures, especially if they are located in one area of the brain or if they affect functions such as speech, hearing and language. The doctor will remove the part of the brain that is causing the seizures. In some cases, a doctor may need to cut parts of the brain to prevent the spread of the seizure area. Surgery can cause serious complications, like impairing cognitive function.