Epilepsy is a chronic disorder of the brain characterized by recurrent seizures. For a short amount of time, the brain does not function properly. The seizures are caused when the brain sends confusing messages, sudden electrical discharges, to the body. This causes changes in movement, sensations and consciousness. A one-time or single seizure does not constitute epilepsy.
There are two types of seizures, generalized and partial. Generalized seizures involve the entire brain and the person is unresponsive and unconscious. Partial seizures involve only certain parts of the brain and the person may be awake and confused with movement in just specific areas of the body. Epilepsy can occur at any age and no obvious cause is found in 75 percent of adults. Epilepsy is not contagious and is not a form of mental illness.
Physicians diagnose epilepsy after getting a detailed medical history and a neurological exam. An electroencephlogram (EEG), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), or computerized tomography (CT) scan may be ordered at some point in the course of the disorder. Physicians treat epilepsy by prescribing any number of anti-epileptic medications. Some people can be helped by surgery. It is very important to always take medications exactly as prescribed by the physician
What To Do If Someone Is Having A Seizure
It can be very frightening to see someone have a seizure – but it is important to remain calm. Do not move the person unless the area s/he is in is dangerous. Turn the person&rsaquo head to the side (unless an injury to the head or neck caused the convulsion) to prevent choking. Loosen any tight clothing and remove any hazardous or sharp objects from the immediate area. Never place anything in the person's mouth.
Let the person rest after the seizure. Call 911 if the person has no medical identification showing a history of epilepsy, or if the seizure happened in water, or if the person is pregnant, injured or diabetic. Call for rescue if a seizure lasts longer than five minutes, or if a second seizure starts after the first one ends.
Information can also be obtained by calling the Epilepsy Foundation of Florida at 305-670-4949. The web site is Epilepsy Foundation of Florida