Epilepsy is a chronic disorder, the hallmark of which is recurrent, unprovoked seizures.
- A person is diagnosed with epilepsy if they have two unprovoked seizures (or one unprovoked seizure with the likelihood of more) that were not caused by some known and reversible medical condition like alcohol withdrawal or extremely low blood sugar.The seizures in epilepsy may be related to a brain injury or a family tendency, but often the cause is completely unknown. The word “epilepsy” does not indicate anything about the cause of the person’s seizures or their severity. The abnormal electrical activity produced in these areas of the brain, is what causes a seizure.Many people with epilepsy have more than one type of seizure and may have other symptoms of neurological problems as well. Sometimes EEG (electroencephalogram) testing, clinical history, family history, and outlook are similar among a group of people with epilepsy. In these situations, their condition can be defined as a specific epilepsy syndrome.What happens in the brain during a seizure?
- The electrical activity is caused by complex chemical changes that occur in nerve cells.
- Brain cells either excite or inhibit (stop) other brain cells from sending messages. Usually there is a balance of cells that excite and those that can stop these messages. However, when a seizure occurs, there may be too much or too little activity, causing an imbalance between exciting and stopping activity. The chemical changes can lead to surges of electrical activity that cause seizures.
- Seizures are not a disease in themselves. Instead, they are a symptom of many different disorders that can affect the brain. Some seizures can hardly be noticed, while others are totally disabling