A seizure is a medical condition that occurs after a sudden burst of electrical activity overwhelms parts of the brain. They can cause temporary abnormalities in behavior (e.g. staring spells), violent shaking, uncontrollable movements, and loss of consciousness. Anyone can experience a seizure, but they are more common in some people with underlying conditions. Most seizures are not long lasting and they do not cause irreparable harm.
Seizures can happen for a variety of reasons. The most common cause is a condition called epilepsy, which affects nerve cell activity in the brain. Other causes include aneurysms, brain tumors, concussions, drug or alcohol use, medications, fevers, high or low blood sugar, and lack of sleep.
Because there are so many types of seizures, symptoms vary. There are two primary types of seizures, tonic-clonic and absence. Tonic-clonic seizures are easier to detect and occur in the following phases: passing out and muscle tensing (tonic phase), uncontrollable convulsions (clonic phase), and post-seizure recovery with confusion and muscle aches. Absence seizures are more common in children and are often described as “zoning out” or daydreaming. These seizures are usually fast and there is no recovery period.
Treatment for seizures varies, but most adults who experience chronic seizures benefit from a combination of anti-seizure medications, self-management education, lifestyle changes, and therapy. Speak to your primary care physician to learn about available options and creating a treatment plan that is right for you.