Understanding Epilepsy and Seizures in Orlando

Seizures and epilepsy are often confused. However, they occur differently. Seizures are abnormal, extreme movements or behavior that occur due to abnormal brain electrical activity. Seizures are the most common symptoms of epilepsy. However, not all people who have seizures have epilepsy. Seizures can be epileptic or non-epileptic. Non-epileptic seizures, also known as pseudo-seizures, are characterized by psychological stress or issues and are not followed by abnormal electric brain activity. These seizures stem from the brain and are classified under neurology. You can look up the best neurologist in Orlando to know more.

Pseudo-seizures and true seizures are very alike, making the diagnosis a little difficult. However, doctors use major clues to differentiate between these seizures. These clues include a lack of response to epileptic drugs and normal EEG readings. Non-epileptic seizures can be treated with psychiatric and psychotherapy medications.

Epilepsy is a common condition and affects up to 1.2% of the entire population. About 3.3 million people have epilepsy in the USA, and 8% of Americans may experience a seizure at least once in their lifetime. Epilepsy is usually diagnosed after the person has experienced two or more seizures that weren’t caused by a known medical condition. For instance, low blood sugar or alcohol withdrawal. Brain cells interact through the process of sending electrical signals in an arranged pattern. However, epilepsy occurs when the electric signals experience an abnormality that causes an electrical storm that produces seizures. These abnormalities may occur in a specific part of the brain. For instance, if it occurs in the right side of the brain, which controls thumb movement, the seizure is likely, to begin with, the jerking of the hand or thumb. A doctor bases their epilepsy diagnosis on symptoms, physical signs, EEG tests, CT scan, or MRI tests.

Some risk factors of epilepsy include:

    • Alcohol or drug abuse
    • Brain tumor
    • Bleeding in the brain
    • Alzheimer’s disease
    • Low birth weight or premature birth
    • Mental disabilities
    • Trauma during birth
    • Lack of oxygen to the brain or severe brain injury
    • Brain infections like encephalitis or meningitis
    • Cerebral palsy
    • Long fever-related seizures
    • Stroke as a result of blockage of arteries
    • Traumatic brain injury
    • Abnormal brain structures from birth

Seizure symptoms vary based on the type of epilepsy. Some people may stare for a couple of seconds, while others may repeatedly twitch their arms and legs. One seizure doesn’t necessarily translate to epilepsy. It is diagnosed after two seizures with no known trigger and happens within a time frame of 24 hours. Sometimes surgery is required to control seizures. Other times, lifetime medication is prescribed to manage the seizures. Some general symptoms of epilepsy seizures include;

    • A brief state of total confusion
    • Staring blankly for some seconds
    • Psychological symptoms like déjà vu, fear, anxiety
    • Stiff muscles
    • Unconsciousness, loss of awareness/alertness

You should visit a doctor if you experience any of the following; a seizure that lasts more than five minutes, high fever, pregnancy.

Causes and risk factors

There is no identifiable cause of epilepsy in about half of the people with this condition. However, in the other half, the condition could be linked to a wide variety of factors, including;

    • Head trauma

Head trauma may result from a traumatic head injury or a car accident and can lead to epilepsy.

    • Developmental disorder

Epilepsy may sometimes be related to developmental disorders like autism.

    • Abnormalities in the brain like vascular malformations, brain tumors, AVMs, and cavernous malformations may lead to epilepsy. However, in adults over the age of 35, stroke is a leading cause of epilepsy.
    • Genetic influence

Epilepsy is usually categorized based on the kind of seizure experienced or the affected part of the brain. These patterns or categories may run in families and is likely due to genetic influence.

Certain risk factors include;

    • Age; the beginning of epilepsy often occurs in children and older adults. However, this condition may occur at any age.
    • Dementia is likely to increase the risk of epilepsy in older adults
    • Children who experience high fever may be at risk of seizures. Generally, children who experience seizures due to high fevers will not develop epilepsy. A family history of epilepsy or nervous system breakdown may lead to epilepsy.
    • Brain infections like meningitis can cause inflammation in your spinal cord or brain and put you at risk of developing epilepsy. Contact the closest epilepsy and seizures services if you experience a medical emergency relating to seizures.

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