Many people suffer from a seizure disorder. This article will look at the different types of seizures and what to expect from them.
When you experience a power surge in your house, you can expect your power to go out. Sudden darkness. A blackout. So, what happens when this occurs in your brain? You experience what is called a seizure.
Three million Americans have an active seizure disorder. A seizure happens when there is no break in the electrical activity in your brain. Think of it as a power surge except it’s your neurons that continue to send electricity. The same thing that happens when a blackout occurs in your house happens when your brain experiences a seizure. It shuts down your body’s power grid. When people suffer more than two unprovoked seizures in their lifetime, they are diagnosed with a condition called epilepsy.
From the first mention of a seizure in history, convulsions were always associated with seizures. Due to the advancement of our technology, we now also know that these convulsive seizures, called tonic-clonic (the older term is grand-mal), are now not the only types of seizures that people suffer from.
In medieval times, seizures were thought to be the work of the devil, some sort of possession and in later times they were thought to be completely psychogenic in nature. Now we are far beyond those ideas in our advancements in diagnoses and treatment. So this condition, while at times can be frustrating, can be handled and treated in a much more comfortable manner.
Epileptics can experience an array of seizures. Sometimes they can experience more than one type.
So, what are the two major types of seizures?
Generalized seizures are those in which both hemispheres of the brain are affected by the electrical disturbance.
Partial seizures occur when there aredisturbances in only part of the brain.
The Following are Types of Generalized Seizures
Generally, these last anywhere from two to 15 seconds. These brief seizures can cause eye fluttering, automated movements like lip smacking and tongue chewing, clothes picking and the most common: staring.
These can last anywhere from one to two minutes. If a tonic-clonic seizure occurs and lasts for more than three minutes, it is advised that you call 911. A tonic-clonic attack results in the sudden loss of consciousness, limb jerking, and is preceded by a cry or shout.
If you ever witness someone having a tonic-clonic attack, do not place anything in the person’s mouth. You can cause bodily harm to them and to yourself. Make sure you clear the area around the person, turn them on their side if they begin to vomit and place a pillow or if one is not available, then place a jacket or some form of clothing under their head. If this is not available then just simply use your palm to stabilize but not restrain their head.
These seizures result in a brief jerking of a limb or limbs. There is no loss of consciousness and usually the person is aware of the onset of the seizure. These can appear bizarre and frightening for the person experiencing them, but also anyone watching. It can feel to the person suffering from the attack that their limbs have a mind of their own.
These attacks result in a sudden loss of muscle control. There is no limb jerking but a sudden drop in body weight.
There are Two Main Manifestations of Partial Seizures
These can last for one to two minutes. Many people who experience these have an aura—a sense of detachment that can present itself with a metallic taste in the mouth or a sense of light-headedness. These episodes can result in someone wandering without having any recollection of where they are going with automatisms such as lip smacking and clothes picking like in absence seizures. These people can even remain in a conversation without anyone aware that they are having a seizure because a grunt or simple non-verbal reaction can be uttered during the attack.
These last close to 90 seconds. The person experiencing these will have no loss of consciousness but may have some limb jerking.
Epilepsy and seizure disorders may take years and different combinations of medications to diagnose and treat. Sometimes epilepsy takes years of misdiagnoses, going undiagnosed or even untreated but with the right neurologist (or epileptologist; a doctor that specializes in the treatment of epilepsy) and the right medications, many people with epilepsy can live a fully functional life.
If you think you may have had a seizure in the past or are experiencing them now, please speak to your doctor or you can look at drugs suitable for brain enhancement. It’s best to keep a diary or some sort of record of what you are experiencing so the doctor can best treat you. They will normally send you for an EEG, an MRI, a PET scan or a CT scan to determine if any obstruction in your brain is causing your seizures.