Seizures and Epilepsy
A seizure is a sudden uncontrollable electrical imbalance in the brain that causes changes in consciousness and spasms in the muscles. When seizures become common and occur recurrently, it is deemed epilepsy. Seizures can vary in severity but typically last 30 seconds to 2 minutes. Seizures that last longer than this are abnormal and require emergency care.
There are two main types of seizures:
- Generalized seizures which affect the entire brain
- Focal, or partial seizures which affect only one part of the brain.
Seizures can be caused by a brain injury, stroke, very low blood sugar, high fever, stress, bright or flashing lights, lack of sleep or alcohol withdrawal. In most cases, the cause of a seizure is unknown.
During your consultation, Dr Lamprecht will ask you questions related to your medical history and family genetics to see if epileptic seizures may run in your family’s genes. He will then do a neurological exam and evaluate your mental functioning and motor abilities. Your blood will be tested for signs of infection and glucose levels to see if anything else may be causing these seizures. Your kidney and liver functioning will also be tested. Electroencephalogram (EEG) is the most common test used in diagnosing epilepsy, and is used to assess the electroactivity of the brain. Imaging tests such as an MRI and PET scan may be used to identify any tumours or abnormal growths on the brain that may be causing the seizures. If no other cause if found for your seizures, you will be diagnosed with epilepsy.
Depending on the severity of the seizures and how often they occur, treatment may include medications to prevent seizures such as anti-epileptic drugs or a vagus nerve stimulator device under the skin which may prevent seizures. In more severe cases, brain surgery may be considered to remove the area of the brain causing the seizures. For most individuals, treatment will be aimed at changing the lifestyle of the individual and managing the condition and complications that come with this diagnosis.