Epilepsy
Epilepsy is a chronic non-communicable disorder of the brain, characterized by recurrent seizures in the absence of an underlying trigger such as a low blood sugar or high fever. It is one of the most common neurological disorders and, with proper treatment, can be well controlled in most people.
Last Updated: February 25, 2024

Epilepsy is caused by abnormal brain function or activity. For many people, the underlying cause is unknown or cannot be identified. The cause may include one or more of the following: • Genetic problems • History of injury to the head during childbirth • Brain injury, including head trauma and strokes • Brain infections • Excessive alcohol intake • Brain tumors

Symptoms may very depending on the type of seizure an individual has. A person may have partial seizures which may present with muscle twitching, confusion, or difficulty talking or answering questions. Generalized seizures, on the other hand, may present with: • Lost or impaired consciousness • Muscle jerking or spasms • Bitten or bruised tongue • Incontinence of urine or feces • Eye blinking or staring into space After a seizure episode, an individual usually presents with: • Tiredness and drowsiness • Confusion and abnormal behavior • Headache, muscle aches, or weakness on one side of the body

The goal for treatment of epilepsy is to prevent future seizures, while minimizing side effects. This usually includes anti-seizure medications. Other interventions may include: • Devices implanted in the brain to prevent seizures • A ketogenic diet (low in carbohydrates but high in fats) • Surgery, for those who don’t respond to medications It is also important to provide information about seizures/epilepsy and the importance of medication to the individual and his/her caregiver. They should be able to learn how to manage seizures at home: • Gently lay the person down, on their side, head turned to help breathing • Place a pillow or something under the head • Loosen the clothing and remove anything that can hurt the person • Do not put anything in their mouth that can block their throat • Ensure that the person is breathing properly • Stay with the individual until the seizure stops and they wake up • Get medical help when necessary (e.g. trouble breathing during a seizure, seizure lasting more than five minutes, does not wake up after the seizure)

Most seizure disorders cannot actually be prevented. However, learning and avoiding triggers can help some individuals. Triggers can differ from person to person. Some common triggers are: • Lack of sleep • Flashing bright lights • Excessive alcohol intake • Drug use • Stress
Last Updated: February 25, 2024