What is Seizures?
A seizure is a sudden, uncontrolled action caused by an electrical disturbance in the brain. It can cause changes in your behaviour, movement, feelings and levels of consciousness. If you have had two or more seizures or have a tendency to have recurrent seizures, you are likely to have epilepsy.
There are numerous types of seizure, which vary in severity based on where and how electrical signals start to affect the brain. In general, most seizures last for 30 seconds to 2 minutes. If you have a seizure for more than 5 minutes, it is classified as a medical emergency.
Seizures are more common than you might think. This disorder can occur after a stroke, closed head injury, infection (such as meningitis), or other diseases. However, most cases of seizures have unknown causes.
Fortunately, most seizure disorders can be controlled with medication, although they can still have a significant impact on your daily life while you are on treatment. Talk to a neurologist about how to balance seizure control and medication side effects.
Causes of Seizures
The nerve cells (neurons) in the brain to create, send, and receive electrical impulses that allow the brain’s nerve cells to communicate. A seizure occurs when these communication pathways are disrupted.
The most common cause of seizures is epilepsy. However, not everyone who has seizures has epilepsy. Other factors that can cause seizures include:
- High fever, associated with infections, for example, meningitis.
- Lack of sleep.
- Alcohol consumption, extreme food poisoning.
- Illegal drugs, such as amphetamines and cocaine.
- Medications, such as pain relievers, antidepressants, or smoking cessation therapy.
- Low blood sodium (hyponatremia).
- Infected with the COVID-19 virus.
- A head injury that causes a region of bleeding in the brain.
- Brain tumor.
When to See a Doctor for Seizures
Your neurologist will perform a comprehensive evaluation of your symptoms and medical record. There may be a number of tests required to diagnose the cause of your seizure and identify how likely you are to have another seizure. Possible tests may include:
- Neurological examination. Your doctor will assess your behavior, motor skills, and mental function for any problems with your brain and nervous system.
- Blood test. A blood sample will be collected to look for signs of infection, genetic conditions, blood sugar levels, or electrolyte imbalances.
- Lumbar Puncture (LP). If your doctor suspects an infection as the cause of the seizure, you may need a sample of cerebrospinal fluid to be tested.
- Electroencephalogram (EEG). Your doctor will attach electrodes to your scalp which will then record the electrical activity in your brain. This activity appears as a wave line on the EEG recording for recurring seizures.
- CT Scan. This test uses X-rays to show any brain abnormalities that may be causing seizures, such as tumors, cysts, and internal bleeding.
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Your doctor will detect abnormalities in the brain that may cause seizures.
- Positron emission tomography (PET). This test is done to help your doctor visualize active areas of your brain and detect any abnormalities.
- Single-photon emission computerized tomography (SPECT). Your doctor may perform the SPECT test to get more detailed results. This test uses 3-D technology.
Symptoms of Seizures
Seizure symptoms range from mild to severe, depending on the type of seizure. Common signs and symptoms of seizure may include:
- Cognitive or emotional symptoms, such as fear, anxiety, or Deja Vu.
- Uncontrollable jerking movements of arms and legs
- Temporary confusion (unable to think clearly).
- Loss of consciousness.
- A staring spell
Doctors generally classify seizures as either focal or generalized based on where and how abnormal brain activity begins. The causes of seizures are sometimes unknown.
Treatment for Seizures
Your doctor may not start treatment before you have more than one seizure. Treatment for seizures aims to stop seizures by minimizing side effects. Below are some recommended treatment options for seizures:
Anti-seizure medications are commonly used to treat seizures. There are several anti-seizure medication options you can choose that best suit your condition and help minimize side effects. In some cases, your doctor may recommend more than one type of medication.
Surgery may be performed to stop the seizures from occurring. Surgeons locate and remove the area where the abnormal activity in the brain begins. Surgery works very effectively for people who have seizures that always originate in the same place in their brains.
3. Other Therapies
There are other therapies to treat seizures, such as vagus nerve stimulation, responsive neurostimulation, deep brain stimulation, and diet.
4. Contraception and anti-seizure medications
Certain anti-seizure medications can affect the effectiveness of birth control medications (oral contraceptives). If contraception is your high priority, you should discuss it with your doctor first before taking anti-seizure medications.
Treatment Cost for Seizures
Treatment costs for seizures vary greatly, depending on the type of seizure, symptoms, series of diagnostic tests, and treatment methods recommended by your doctor.
For more details regarding the estimated treatment cost for seizures at home and abroad, contact Smarter Health.
Prevention of Seizures
You can control seizures by taking preventive measures. The following are some ways to prevent seizures and reduce risk, including:
- Get enough sleep. If necessary, create a regular sleep schedule and stick to it.
- Learn to manage stress and practice relaxation techniques.
- Stay away from drugs and alcohol.
- Consume all medicines recommended by your doctor.
- Avoid glare, flickering, and other visual stimuli.
- Reduce time in front of television and computer screens whenever possible to avoid blue light effects that are bad for health.
- Avoid playing video games.
- Eat healthy foods.
The best way to prevent seizures is to avoid the factors that cause seizures.
Home Remedies for Seizures
You can continue your treatment at home. Below are several steps that you can take to help control seizures:
- Make sure you get enough sleep every night. Lack of sleep can trigger seizures. Therefore, make sure you get enough sleep every night.
- Adopt a healthy lifestyle. You can start with managing your stress, limiting the amount of alcohol consumption, and quitting smoking.
- Take medicine regularly as recommended by the doctor. If you feel you need to change your prescription, discuss it with your doctor first.
- Exercise regularly can help you stay physically fit and help reduce symptoms of depression. Do not forget to drink water and rest if you get tired while exercising.
Contact neurologists at home and abroad through Smarter Health’s free service. With Smarter Health, you can find hospital recommendations, make doctor appointments, and calculate estimated treatment cost.
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