What You Need to Know About Epilepsy

EpilepsyBy Aileen Bay, MIPC M.A.

Over 2 million people in the United States have been diagnosed with epilepsy.  Epilepsy, a seizure disorder, is a neurological condition characterized by disturbances in the electrical activity of the brain. These electrical disturbances can cause many different types of seizures.

Epilepsy is usually diagnosed after several tests are performed, including EEG (electroencephalogram), which detects electrical activity using electrodes attached to the scalp. CT and MRI scans can also be used to rule out out epilepsy from other conditions.

There are over 20 different types of seizures, each with different symptoms. When most people think of a seizure, they think of tonic-clonic seizures, characterized by loss of consciousness, and jerking movements of the head and limbs. Other types of seizures include partial seizures, which have a variety of symptoms. Signs of a partial seizures can be abnormal movements of the body, such as hand movements. Other signs include sensory changes, such as smelling something that isn’t there, a feeling that the room is spinning, or numbness in one part of the body.

A type of seizure activity common in children are absence seizures. Symptoms of absence seizures include staring into space, usually for 10 seconds or less, which is sometimes accompanied by an abnormal movement such as chewing or hand gestures.

November is also epilepsy awareness month!  To learn more about epilepsy – including symptoms, diagnosis, and treatments, visit the Epilepsy Foundation’s website at www.epilepsy.com. If you feel that you have symptoms that may be caused by epilepsy, it is important to contact your doctor right away and begin assessment.