A seizure occurs when the electrical impulses created and sent or received by neurons (nerve cells) in the brain are disrupted.
According to the Mayo Clinic, the most common cause of seizures is epilepsy; however, not every individual who suffers a seizure has epilepsy.
Other causes of seizures include:
- Lack of sleep
- Low blood sodium, aka hyponatremia, possibly from taking diuretics.
- High fever
- Brain tumors
- Head trauma causing bleeding in an area of the brain
- Medications, including certain pain relievers, smoking cessation treatments, and antidepressants
- Illegal or recreational drugs
- Alcohol abuse during withdrawal or extreme intoxication
Seizures can take many forms and individuals suffering one can have a range of symptoms.
- Temporary confusion
- A staring spell
- Loss of consciousness or awareness
- Emotional or cognitive symptoms including anxiety, deja vu, and fear
- Uncontrollable jerking movements of the arms and legs
You can suffer one or more problems due to seizure, including falling, drowning, car accidents (if you are operating a car or other vehicle), pregnancy complications, and emotional health issues.
Falling during a seizure may cause a broken bone or head injury. Seizures during pregnancy can put both the mother and the baby at risk.
Seizures are classified as general, if the disruption is to all areas of the brain, or focal, if a specific area is disrupted.
- Can occur with or without loss of consciousness
- May star into space and not respond
- May show repetitive motions like chewing, swallowing, walking in circles, or hand rubbing.
- Absence seizures – often seen in children, and include staring into space, eye blinking, lip smacking, or other subtle movements. They may occur in clusters and cause loss of awareness.
- Tonic seizures – cause stiffening of the muscles, particularly in the arms, legs, and back, causing the individual to fall.
- Atonic seizures or drop seizures – cause loss of muscle control resulting in collapse or fall.
- Clonic seizures – cause muscles to jerk with a rhythmic or repeated movement, typically in the face, arms, and neck.
- Myoclonic seizures – cause brief jerks or twitches of the arms and legs.
- Tonic-clonic seizures – can cause loss of consciousness, loss of bladder control, tongue biting, and occasionally loss of bladder control. The most dramatic type of seizure.