November is National Epilepsy Awareness Month! This month is dedicated to educating the public on seizure disorders, known as epilepsy, that affects about 1 in 26 individuals, according to the Epilepsy Foundation.
What is Epilepsy?
Epilepsy is a chronic seizure disorder, which will be diagnosed after an individual experiences at least two unprovoked seizures that were not caused by a known and reversible medical condition such as low blood sugar, alcohol withdrawal, or a stroke.
Seizures seen in epilepsy are characterized by uncontrolled disturbances in the brain’s electrical activity. These disturbances occur suddenly and cause quick changes in behavior, movements, feeling, and consciousness levels. Different types of seizures can occur that range in severity, but most episodes only last for between 30 seconds and two minutes.
Often the cause for epilepsy is entirely unknown, but the condition may be related to a brain injury, family history, infection, or a structural abnormality in the body.
Signs and Symptoms
Because seizures are caused by abnormal electrical activity in the brain, any process that your brain coordinates could be affected. Some symptoms to look for when it comes to seizures include:
- Temporary confusion and feeling dazed
- Staring and focusing on one area
- Uncontrollable jerking and shaking movements of the arms and legs
- Loss of consciousness
- Feelings of intense fear or anxiety
In general, the symptoms of seizures depend on type and severity. Individuals with epilepsy tend to experience the same kind of seizure each time, so the signs and symptoms should be similar for each episode.
When to Consult With a Doctor
It’s crucial to seek immediate medical attention if you experience a seizure and:
- This is the first seizure you’ve experienced
- The seizure lasts more than 3 minutes
- Breathing or consciousness doesn’t return after the seizure has stopped
- A second seizure occurs right after the first one has stopped
- You also have a high fever
- You are experiencing heat exhaustion
- You are pregnant
- You have diabetes
- You’ve injured yourself before or during the seizure
If you have epilepsy, it is recommended you consult with an experienced neurologist to help manage and monitor your seizure disorder. A neurologist will diagnose and treat your condition to ensure you can still live a healthy and happy lifestyle.