Epilepsy 101

What is Epilepsy?

Epilepsy is a neurological condition that affects the nervous system. Epilepsy is also known as a seizure disorder. It is usually diagnosed after a person has had at least two seizures (or after one seizure with a high risk for more) that were not caused by some known medical condition.

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General Information about Epilepsy

What are seizures?

A seizure happens when the electrical system of the brain malfunctions. Instead of discharging electrical energy in a controlled manner, the brain cells keep firing. There are many different types of seizures. People may experience just one type or more than one. The kind of seizure a person has depends on which part and how much of the brain is affected by the electrical disturbance that produces seizures. Seizures can be classified into two main categories.

Generalized Seizures

These seizures affect both sides of the brain or groups of cells on both sides of the brain at the same time and includes seizure types like tonic-clonic, absence, or atonic to name a few.

Focal Seizures

Focal seizures can start in one area or group of cells in one side of the brain. When a person is awake and aware during a seizure, it is called a focal aware seizure. When a person is confused or their awareness is affected in some way during a focal seizure, it is called a focal impaired awareness seizure.

Help & Treatment

How to help someone experiencing a seizure:

  1. STAY with the person and start timing the seizure. Remain calm and check for medical ID.
  2. Keep the person SAFE by moving away from harmful objects.
  3. Turn the person on their SIDE if they are not awake and aware. Do not block airway or restrain. Put something small and soft under their head.

How is epilepsy treated?

Epilepsy is diagnosed and treated by a neurologist or a specialist called an epileptologist. While seizure medicines are the mainstay of epilepsy treatment, there are other approaches a doctor may choose to recommend, including:

  • Surgery
  • Neurostimulation devices
  • Dietary therapy