After a seizure, a person may be confused, tired, or sleepy, may experience muscle aches or soreness, and may not remember what happened. Before a seizure, many people experience a warning sign called an aura, which may involve a particular smell, feeling, or visual effect.
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Epileptic seizures are classified according to their particular characteristics:
Partial or focal seizures affect a small area of the brain; the symptoms experienced by the person depend on the area of the brain that is involved:
It's known that antiepileptic medications are responsible for at least some of the extra birth defects. About 5% of babies born to women with epilepsy have a birth defect. The defects can be minor or easily corrected by surgery (malformed fingers, cleft lip, or palate) but occasionally more serious malformations such as spina bifida can occur. This compares to about a 2.5% chance in the rest of the population.
Nearly one-third of epileptic men suffer from erectile dysfunction, and many epileptic women complain of dry vagina, painful contractions during sex, or low libido. These problems are particularly common in people with complex partial seizures originating in the temporal lobe of the brain. Epilepsy has a number of sexual and reproductive complications that we don't fully understand.
This explains why seizures begin around puberty in some women, when estrogen dominates, and may improve after menopause. These seizures occur most during ovulation or just before menstruation. Catamenial epilepsy refers to seizures that are timed to the menstrual cycle. Seizures are apparently provoked by estrogen and prevented by progesterone.
It may involve falling to the ground and twitching spasmodically, but not always. The name epilepsy comes from the Greek for "to be seized." Sudden seizure is the hallmark of this illness.
It may be provoked after abruptly stopping antiseizure medication. An exception is in status epilepticus, when a seizure either keeps going for more than 20 to 30 minutes or recurs many times in a short period. You should call an ambulance if this happens.
Epilepsy is not a disease but rather a symptom of disturbed brain function, which can be caused by many different disease processes. Epilepsy that first appears in adulthood is often due to some localized damage such as poor blood flow to the brain, a brain tumour, or a previous head injury. Epilepsy in children can be brought on by meningitis during infancy or by abnormalities of brain development, but it is often inherited.
Many people find that particular events tend to trigger seizures. We know epilepsy can be passed on genetically, but we don't really understand what's different in the brain of a person with an inherited form of epilepsy. We also don't fully understand what happens to the brain during a seizure. These include:.
Generalized seizures affect a larger area of the brain than partial ones:
This can result in involuntary and unusually large signals being sent to the muscles. These electrochemical messages are necessary for almost everything we do and feel. Seizures are a sudden and abnormally high discharge of electrical activity among large numbers of nerve cells in the brain. As the brain goes about its daily functions, millions of electrical and chemical signals pass from its nerve cells out to the body.
Many people believe that someone having an epileptic seizure is in danger of swallowing his or her tongue and choking. In reality, this almost never happens. If the person is standing, you should usually do nothing; if they are unconscious, put them on their side with a headrest and loosen the top button of their shirt. If you try to prop the mouth open of someone who is experiencing a seizure, you can damage their teeth (or lose a finger).
Epilepsy is one of the most common disorders of the central nervous system, appearing before the age of 25 in 1 out of every 100 people. A further 2% of the population will develop it between the ages of 25 and 75.
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