Why do I have seizures?
Seizures are caused by sudden and disorganized electrical activity in the brain. The brain controls the body movement by sending out small electrical signals to the muscles through the nerves. Sometimes, unfortunately, the brain sends out abnormal signals that change the way the body functions. As a result, seizures occur.
While the exact cause of some seizures remains unknown, a number of health conditions can cause seizures. Anything that disturbs the brain may lead to a seizure. Some seizures may result from a “natural” phenomena occurring in the body such as chemical imbalance. Other examples include:
- Genetic factors
- Neurological problems
- Brain injury
- Alcohol/drug withdrawal
- Brain tumors
- Progressive brain disease
- Birth trauma
In some cases, especially with young adults and young children, no seizure cause can be found. This is called idiopathic seizures. Epilepsy may be diagnosed if seizures continue frequently after the underlying problem is treated.
Most people think that a seizure should involve convulsions and loss of consciousness, but there are different types of seizures and every type has some distinct characteristics. For instance, some have mild symptoms without shaking; some may last a few seconds and some may cause a person to have staring spells.
Here are some characteristics of seizures:
- Blank stares
- Cessation of activity
- Suddenly falls to the ground
- Eye blinking or upward eye movements
- Loss of facial expression
- Dropping or spilling what they are holding or falling off a chair
A seizure can be mistaken for many things, which can make it’s hard to tell if someone is having one. In fact, seizures can be mistaken for behavior or medical conditions.
How are they treated?
Seizures are treated with antiepileptic drugs. These drugs help to decrease abnormal electrical activity in the brain; they do not cure seizures but they help to control them. Although some patients can have seizures controlled with one kind of medication, others require a combination of medications.
In some cases, seizures may be caused by brain tumors. In such cases, doctors typically recommend surgery to treat the underlying cause. The doctors may also recommend surgery to remove the seizure focus, the part of the brain where seizures originate.
Will they ever go away?
Unfortunately, there is no known cure for a seizure disorder. Results from one study showed that children with idiopathic seizures could become seizure free by 20 years after diagnosis. However, the odds for becoming seizure-free are not as good for adults or for children with severe seizure disorders. Nonetheless, it is possible for seizures to reduce or even go away over time, especially if the disorder has been well-controlled by medication surgery.
What research is being performed for my condition?
Scientists are studying the underlying causes of seizures in adults and children. They are continually studying how the brain produces abnormal electrical signals. This will hopefully help scientists come up with the most beneficial seizure treatment methods.