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What is a seizure?

Epileptic seizures, which are sometimes known as fits, are brain disorders that are characterized by abnormal electrical activity in the brain. Epileptic seizures are classified as being either general or partial.

A general seizure impairs a person’s consciousness and distorts electrical activity in the entirety or majority of the brain, while a partial seizure alters only one hemisphere or lobe and usually does not induce unconsciousness. Symptoms of partial seizures vary depending on which area of the brain is affected.

People who do not have epilepsy may experience non-epileptic seizures. Non-epileptic seizures closely resemble epileptic seizures, but do not involve abnormal charges of nerve cell clusters, or neurons. Instead, these types of seizures are the result of physiological or psychological factors. Patients are sometimes misdiagnosed with epileptic seizures, when their seizures are actually non-epileptic.

What causes a seizure?

Non-epileptic seizures are caused by such factors as head injuries, accidental poisoning or drug overdose. Females who are in the process of giving birth may experience seizures as a result of eclampsia. Young children are notably susceptible to febrile convulsions, or seizures resulting from high bodily temperatures.

How are seizures treated?

Seizures usually last for a short duration of time and stop by themselves. During this time, you can help reduce the patient’s risk of bodily injuries.

Laying the person down on a firm, flat surface and turning his or her body to the side prevents falling. Remove potentially unsafe objects from the area and cushion the person’s head by providing a pillow. You should also loosen any tight clothing that is around the patient’s neck. If vomiting occurs, make sure that no particles are inhaled into the person’s lungs.

Consult the patient’s medical ID bracelet for instructions if he or she is wearing one. Contact 911 if the patient is having a seizure for the first time or if the seizure lasts longer than five minutes. You should also call 911 if the person does not resume normal activities after the seizure, or if the initial seizure is followed by an additional one. Alert emergency personnel if the patient is pregnant or diabetic.

What are the symptoms of a seizure?

The symptoms of a seizure depend on which area of the brain is affected. Possible symptoms include:

  • Blackouts
  • Drooling or frothing at the mouth
  • Involuntary eye movements
  • Grunting and snorting
  • Loss of bladder or bowel control
  • Hallucinations
  • Sudden mood changes
  • Shakes and muscle spasms
  • Fainting
  • Teeth clenching
  • Difficulty breathing