Epilepsy Overview

Epilepsy is a brain disorder that causes a person to have recurrent seizures caused by abnormal electrical activity in the brain. Approximately one in 100 Americans have experienced a seizure or been diagnosed with epilepsy (meaning they have had repeated seizures).

A patient having a seizure may experience jerking, uncontrolled movements, loss of consciousness, confusion, staring spells, or muscle spasms.

There are three basic types of seizures:

  • Generalized Tonic – Clonic Seizures (also called grand mal seizures) – involve full body convulsions.
  • Absence Seizures (also called petit mal seizures) – typically involve brief staring spells that last less than 15 seconds and, possibly, twitching or jerking muscles.
  • Partial, or Focal, Seizures – affect a specific area of the brain. Symptoms vary widely depending on the area of the brain affected, including staring spells, abnormal body or eye movements, hallucinations, increased heart rate, dilated pupils, sweating, etc.

Written by Laurie LaRusso, MS, ELS

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