by Kimberly Allen R.N.
Seizure disorders also refered to as epileptic syndromes are a group of disorders that involve abnormal, unregulated electrical discharges that occur in the brain disrupting normal brain function. There are as many different types of syndromes as there are seizures. It is estimated that in the US over 2 million people have either had some form of unprovoked seizure or have been diagnosed with some form of seizure disorder. seizure disorders are not contagious nor are they caused by mental retardation. However, some people with mental retardation are also diagnosed with some form of seizure disorder but being diagnosed with a seizure disorder does not have anything to do with mental development.
There are four basec classifications that most seizure disorders fall into:
1. Epilepsy, frequently refered to as epileptic seizure disorder. It is a chronic disorder of the brain that is characterized by reoccurring seizures that are unprovoked by external stressors or other medical conditions.
2. Nonepileptic seizures are brought on by a temporary condition or stressor like metabolic disorders, infections, or drug toxicity and withdrawal.
3. Symptomatic seizures are the result of a known cause, for example, a brain tumor or stroke. These types of seizures are most commonly diagnosed in neonates and the elderly.
4. Psychogenic seizures are also called pseudoseizures because they are symptoms that mimic seizures in patients with psychiatric disorders, however they do not invollve the abnormal electrical discharges seen in other syndromes.
To date Drs have identified over 30 different types of seizures but have classified them into 2 categories:
1. Generalized seizures involves the diffuse discharge of aberrant electrical discharges through both sides of the brain usually causing a loss of consciousness. Different types of generalized seizures include infantilespasms, abscence seizures, tonic-clonic seizures, atonic seizures and myoclonic seizures.
2. Partial seizures occur when there is excess electrical discharges in one side of the brain. These are most often the result of
structural abnormality. Partial seizures are either ‘simple’ which involves no loss of consciousness or ‘complex’ which reduces the level of consciousness without complete loss of consciousness. Sometimes partial seizures are followed by a generalized seizure causing a loss of consciousness. This is known as secondary generalized and occurs when a partial seizure spreads to both sides of the brain. Many seizures are precipitated by an whats known as an ‘aura’. An aura can be sensory, autonomic or psychic sensation like a feelillng of fear or a feeling of deja vu/ Most seizures last 1 to2 minutes then end just as suddenly as they started. After you have a seizure you will usually be exhausted and fall into a deep sleep, you may also experience a headach and confusion as wellas have some muscle soreness.
Treatment of seizure disorders depends of the type of seizure disorder you have to be effective. There are a variety of treatments available to you and your Dr. No matter what type ofseizure disorder you have been diagnosed with the effectiveness of the treatment is significantly affected by how soon you start treatment. Many treatments are less effective once the seizures have become established.
Most people diagnosed with a seizure disorder are able to lead fairly normal lives with the help of current treatments.
Kimberly Allen is a registered nurse with an AND in nursing. She has worked in ACF, LCF and psychiatric facilities, although she spent most of her career as a home health expert. She is now a regular contributor to HealthAndFitnessTalk.com, dispensing advice and knowledge about medical issues and questions. You can reach her with any comments or questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.