Epilepsy is a neurological condition characterized by unprovoked seizures. These seizures can result in convulsions and blacking out, or they can be mild and harder to detect. According to the Epilepsy Foundation, these episodes are caused by short, powerful spikes of electrical activity in the brain.
Seizures connected to Epilepsy
Generalized (local) seizures affect the entire brain. Partial (focal) seizures originate in a smaller brain section. Generalized seizures can take a variety of different forms, according to the Epilepsy Foundation. Absence seizures are associated with momentary loss of consciousness. Tonic-clonic seizures, which are also referred to as grand mal seizures, are known to cause convulsions and blacking out.
Other generalized seizures cause temporary loss in muscle tone, while others are associated with random, jerking movements. Unlike generalized seizures, simple partial seizures do not cause a loss of consciousness. However, they do affect emotions, movement and sensations. Muscles may become involuntary rigid or jerk around on their own. They’re also associated with strange emotional responses like sudden fear or nervousness. Sensory sensations can also occur. This includes strange tastes, sounds and smells. During a complex seizure, the person may exhibit coordinated movements like walking, but it is involuntary. Seizure disorders indicate irregular brain functioning and have a complex set of causes.
Causes for Epilepsy
According to the Epilepsy Foundation, over 50 percent of all epilepsy cases have an unidentifiable cause. In other cases, the cause of epilepsy can be traced back to head injuries, infections, and drug and alcohol use. Strokes or brain tumors can also trigger a seizure. Chemical imbalances can induce seizures, as well. A person is diagnosed with epilepsy when he or she has at least two unprovoked seizures. In addition, not everyone with the condition opts for treatment. This may include someone who has only experienced one isolated seizure in his or her lifetime.
If testing reveals that the person has no neurological abnormalities, doctors may recommend forgoing formal treatment. For others, epilepsy treatment may include anticonvulsant drugs, surgery to remove sections of the brain causing seizures and/or nerve stimulation. In some children, following a low-carb/high-fat diet has been shown to reduce seizure activity.