Following are links to some basic information about important health issues facing today's families.


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Epilepsy & Seizures.

Known as a seizure disorder, epilepsy produces seizures that affect mental and physical functions. If a person has two or more seizures, it's considered that they have epilepsy.

Basically, a seizure occurs when a strong surge of electrical activity affects all or part of the brain. Ten percent of adults will suffer at least one seizure in their life. A seizure can last anywhere from a few seconds to minutes. Typically, the seizure can cause convulsions and even the loss of consciousness. Other symptoms include blank staring, lip smacking and jerking movements of arms and legs. Following a seizure, the individual may be disoriented or confused.

Types of seizures

There are several types of seizures and a person can experience one or more that the same time. The type of seizure depends on the part of the brain that is affected. Experts divide seizures into generalized, partial, nonepileptic and status epilepticus.

Causes of seizures

Often, there is no identifiable causes of epilepsy. In fact, roughly 70% of people with epilepsy never learn the cause. For the rest, the cause can be any number of things, from a head injury to oxygen deprivation during childbirth. Other causes include tumors, genetic conditions, lead poisoning and infections such as meningitis.

The trigger that causes a seizure is also difficult to identify in most cases. Fluctuations in hormone levels, stress, sleep patterns and photosensitivity can all trigger a seizure, as can forgetting to take one's seizure medications as prescribed.

Diagnosing epilepsy

The primary way to diagnose epilepsy is to document the seizure that occurred, including what was happening just before its onset. The doctor will also perform a thorough physical exam, looking at the nervous system, blood and other bodily fluids. Another useful tool is the EEG, which can record brain waves during and between seizures to help the doctor identify patterns that may show someone has epilepsy. Finally, imaging methods such as a CT or MRI can map any growths, scars or other physical abnormalities in the brain.


Epilepsy medications are taken orally. It may take a few rounds to find a medication and dosage that works effectively to halt seizures. These medications, along with vagus nerve stimulation and a ketogenic diet, have supplanted the use of surgery as an option.


Adapted from materials provided by the Epilepsy Foundation








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