With more than 2.5 million Americans suffering from epilepsy, it's likely that you'll have to deal with this neurological disease at some point in your life. Whether it's a friend, family member or just a stranger on the street, someone you encounter will have, or has had, an epileptic seizure. How much do you know about this serious condition that affects the brain?
Epilepsy - A Neurological Disorder
In case you didn't already know, neurology is the study of the brain. Normally, the body reacts to electrical impulses sent to the brain, which then tell your body what to do. In the case of peeps with epilepsy, the electrical impulses sometimes get out of control, firing way too fast to keep up with. This often causes the body to convulse uncontrollably - which is known as an epileptic seizure. Epilepsy tends to appear in peeps either under the age of 15 or over the age of 65. There are a ton of treatments available for epilepsy, so often people with this disorder are able to keep their seizures under control.
Epilepsy - What Causes It?
Scientists still aren't sure what causes epilepsy, but with some peeps it's easier to figure out than others. There are certain things that seem to trigger epilepsy, like a brain injury (such as a serious concussion), lack of oxygen to the brain during birth, an infection of the brain like meningitis or some other brain trauma. Doctors don't think epilepsy is hereditary (passed on from generation to generation), but because the cause is still unknown, it's hard to say for sure.
Epilepsy - Types of Seizures
Epileptic seizures can range in severity and sometimes you might not even realize that a person has had a seizure. There are a variety of things that are thought to trigger seizures like flashing lights, lack of sleep, stress, overstimulation (like playing video games for too long) or fever. Usually seizures only last a minute or two, but a person may be disoriented for quite awhile afterwards. Take a look at some info on the two types of epileptic seizures.
Partial Seizure - This type of seizure is when there is an electrical disturbance in one specific part of the brain. The electrical impulse may move onto other parts of the brain, or it may just stay put. During a partial seizure, one part of the body may twitch, speech may be slurred, vision may be impaired or the person may lose consciousness.
General Seizure - This type of seizure occurs when an electrical disturbance affects all parts of the brain at the same time. When someone experiences this type of seizure, they may just look like they are daydreaming, they may pass out, their muscles may stiffen or their body may jerk uncontrollably.
Epilepsy - What to Do When Someone Has a Seizure
If someone around you has an epileptic seizure, find an adult right away. If you can, help the person to the ground and put something soft under their head. Do not try to hold someone down while they are having a seizure - just make sure there is nothing around that the person will hurt themselves on. Stay with the person and talk them through it in a calm voice. Remember - epilepsy is not a contagious disease, so don't be afraid to get in there and make things more comfortable for the person suffering from a seizure.
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