Skip to main content

Epilepsy Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatments

After 22 years as an RN, I now write about medical issues and new medical advances. Diet, exercise, treatment, and lifestyle are important.

epilepsy-symptoms-diagnosis-and-treatments

My Hairstylist’s Seizures

The first time I saw someone having a seizure was when I was in the 5th grade. We were walking out of school at the end of the school day, and she fell on the ground. None of us knew what happened, but it was scary.

My hair stylist, Mary (an alias) has epilepsy. She just told me about her circumstances. Her seizures vary in intensity, which is common. However, after spending a week in Mayo Clinic she learned they can’t help her with surgery or any of the more advanced treatments.

Her seizures are initiated from the part of her brain that creates memories. Therefore, she does not remember any of her seizures. The first time she found out she had seizures was when she came to, and her 7 year old son was crying.

Epilepsy Disorder

Epilepsy is a brain disorder that is characterized by repeated seizures. It is typically defined as a sudden alteration of behavior due to temporary change in the electrical function in the brain. The brain normally sends out tiny electrical impulses in a continuous orderly pattern.

Some people with a seizure simply stare blankly into space for a few seconds, which Mary said occasionally happened to her. Other times she fell to the floor, but never remembered what happened.

Other people fall to the ground with their legs and arms twitching. Seizures can happen at any age, and even dogs have seizures.

epilepsy-symptoms-diagnosis-and-treatments

What To Do If You See Someone Having a Seizure

You only turn the person to their side to prevent choking. Do not put anything in their mouth.

You do not do CPR or anything else. If the person does not recover in a couple of minutes you may call 911. Usually the seizure is over very quickly.

Some children outgrow seizures as they age.

Symptoms of Seizures

There are several possible signs and symptoms of a seizure, and they include:

  • A staring spell
  • Temporary confusion
  • Stiff muscles
  • Uncontrollable jerking movements of the arms and legs
  • Loss of consciousness or awareness
  • Psychological symptoms such as fear, anxiety or deja vu

Sometimes there is an aura before a seizure, such as a particular smell.

Seizures are generally characterized as generalized onset, focal seizures or unknown onset, which depend on where the abnormal brain activity begins. However, there are many different types of seizures, as generalized onset has 6 different types of seizures.

What is a Seizure?

Diagnosis

After your doctor reviews your symptoms and medical history, there are several possible tests. They include:

Scroll to Continue
  • Neurological examination
  • Blood tests
  • Lumbar puncture
  • Electroencephalogram (EEG) - electrodes attached to the scalp to record the electrical activity of the brain

Medical imaging scans include:

MRI, CT scan, PET scan, Single-photon emission computerized tomography (SPECT).

epilepsy-symptoms-diagnosis-and-treatments

Treatment For Seizures

Mary has a nasal spray that she can use if she has an aura, which seldom happens for her.

There are two nasal sprays available are:

  • Midazolam (Nyzliam 5 mg) which can be a second dose if there is a concern about breathing.
  • Valdocco is the brand name for diazepam.

A new medication is cannabidiol (Epidiolex), which is derived from marijuana and used to treat children 2 years and older.

Often several medications or combinations of medications may be tried until they find what works for the patient.

A ketogenic diet (high in fat, low in carbs) can improve seizure control.

There are several types of surgeries that may be used when medication fails to control the seizures.ding:

  1. Vagus nerve stimulation
  2. Responsive neurostimulation
  3. Deep brain stimulation

Final Thoughts

Anyone with epilepsy should wear a medical alert bracelet. It is important to get a good night’s sleep as lack of sleep can trigger a seizure. Take medications correctly.

Live a healthy lifestyle, not smoking and limiting alcohol. Be active to stay healthy, but rest and drink water when you are tired.

Treating Epileptic Seizures

References

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2022 Pamela Oglesby

Related Articles