The main symptoms of epilepsy are repeated seizures. There aremany different types of seizure, depending on the area of the brain affected.
People with epilepsy can experience any type of seizure, although most people have a consistent pattern of symptoms.
Seizures can occur when you are awake or asleep.
Doctors classify seizures by how much of the brain is affected. There are:
Some seizures do not fit into these categories and are known as unclassified seizures.
There are two main types of partial seizure.
Simple partial seizures are where you remain fully conscious throughout.
Symptoms of a simple partial seizure can include:
These seizures are sometimes known as "warnings" or "auras", because they can be a sign that another type of seizure ison its way.This can give you time to warn people around you and make sure you are in a safe place.
Complex partial seizures are when you lose your sense of awareness and cant remember what happened after the seizure has passed.
The symptoms of a complex partial seizure normally involve apparently strange and random bodily behaviour, such as:
During a complex partial seizure, you will not be able to respond to anyone else, and you will have no memory of the event.
There are six main types of generalised seizure.
Absence seizures, which used to be called petit mal, mainly affect children, but they also occur in adults. They cause the person to lose awareness of their surroundings, usually for up to 15 seconds. The person will seem to stare vacantly into space, although some people will flutter their eyes or smack their lips. The person will have no memory of the seizure.
Absences can occur several times a day. They may affect a child's performance at school, and can be dangerous if they occur at a critical time, such as crossing a busy road.
These types of seizures cause your arms, legs or upper body to jerk or twitch, as if you have received an electric shock. They often only last for a fraction of a second, and you will normally remain conscious during this time.
Myoclonic jerks often happen in the first few hours after waking up and can occur in combination with other types of generalised seizures.
These cause the same sort of twitching as myoclonic jerks, except the symptoms will last longer, normally up to two minutes. Loss of consciousness may also occur.
Atonic seizures cause all your muscles to suddenly relax, so there is a chance youmay fall to the ground and there is a risk you could injure yourself.
Tonic seizures cause all your muscles to suddenly become stiff, which can mean you lose balance and fall over. Like atonic seizures, there is a risk of injury.
Tonic-clonic seizures or convulsions, which used to be known as grand mal, have two stages. Your body will initially become stiff and then your arms and legs will begin twitching. You will lose consciousness and some people will wet themselves. The seizure normally lasts a few minutes, but can last longer.
This type of seizure is what most people think of as an epileptic fit.
If you see someone having a seizure, there are simple things you can do to help.
If you are with someone who has a tonic-clonic seizure:
When the convulsions have stopped, put them into the recovery position until they have recovered.
If someone is having one of theother types of seizure:
It will not usually be necessary to call an ambulance after a seizure. However, you should call 999 if:
Status epilepticus is the name forany seizure that lasts longer than 30 minutes, or a series of seizures where the person does not regain consciousness in between. This is a medical emergency and requires treatment as soon as possible.
You can be trained to treat status epilepticus if you care for someone with epilepsy, but if you haven't had any training, it is important to call 999 for an ambulance immediately if you suspect status epilepticus.
If youhave been trained to treat the condition, you will usually have been advised to use either:
Ifyou have tried one of these treatments and the seizures are continuing, call 999 for an ambulance.
Epilepsy is a condition that affects the brain and causes repeated seizures, which were sometimes previously referred to as "fits".
The main symptoms of epilepsy are repeated seizures. There are many different types of seizure, depending on the area of brain that is affected.
In over half of epilepsy cases, a cause cannot be found. If there is an identifiable cause, it usually involves the brain being affected by a condition.
Epilepsy is usually difficult to diagnose quickly. In most cases, it cannot usually be confirmed until you have had more than one seizure.
Treatment for epilepsy is used to control seizures, although not everyone with the condition will need to be treated.
As epilepsy can affect people in different ways, everyone's experience of living with the condition is different. However, there are some general points that can help.
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For Stephen and Denise Wottrich, epilepsy is a family affair. They have similar forms of epilepsy, and at its worst it can cause up to 10 seizures a day.