Epilepsy is a condition that causes seizures, temporary episodes that often include twitching and convulsions. These seizures happen when the brain’s electrical impulses act abnormally and send erratic signals. Think of it as your brain getting confused by these haywire messages, and the result is a seizure.
Epilepsy can make driving, walking across the street, or cooking dinner a dangerous activity because you never know when a seizure may strike. But epilepsy can usually be managed well through medication and other treatments. Learning how to reduce your risk for a seizure through lifestyle changes and learning your triggers can also help you to better manage your epilepsy.
Facts about the medical management of epilepsy
About 70 percent of people with epilepsy are able to successfully manage epilepsy seizures with medication and certain types of surgery, but it’s important to remember that epilepsy can’t be cured and that there’s always a risk of having another seizure.
Epilepsy usually begins in young people, often between ages 5 and 20, although it can affect anyone. Most of the time, people with epilepsy have someone else in their family who has epilepsy or seizures.
Sometimes seizures can be triggered by something that’s out of your control. Running a high fever may result in a seizure, despite taking medications to manage epilepsy. Having high or low blood glucose or sodium or taking certain medications can also cause a seizure.
Symptoms of epilepsy
The primary symptom of epilepsy is a seizure. But there are different types of seizures with different symptoms. These are some symptoms of seizures:
- Slight twitching of all or parts of the body, including arms, hands, and legs
- Convulsions that affect the entire body
- Loss of consciousness
- Twitching of the face
- Affected speech
- Sudden stillness with a blank stare
- Temporary loss of control of your bladder or bowels
Most seizures only last for a few minutes or even just a few seconds. If you’ve had a seizure, it may take you an hour or so to feel normal again. And you may not have any memory of having had a seizure or remember what was happening as the seizure started.