Epilepsy

Epilepsy is a symptom of a neurological disorder which causes a malfunction of the electrical signals that control the brain. It is characterized by seizures. A seizure may last anywhere from few seconds to several minutes. A seizure may appear as a brief stare, an unusual movement of the body, a change of awareness, or a convulsion. The two categories are partial (this is when the seizure activity begins in a particular spot in the brain) and generalized (this is when the seizure activity affects the whole brain with no obvious starting point). A doctor will probably order an EEG (a test where wires are glued to the scalp to record the electricity given off by the brain).
Some of the different types are :

 


PARTIAL

Simple Partial (consciousness not impaired)

with motor or sensory symptoms
(ex- jerking of foot, face, arm, etc or involve the sense such as tingling or burning)

with autonomic symptoms
(involuntary body functions are affected :ex- heart rate, bowel function, and blood pressure: ie-face becomes flushed or pale, heart may beat fast, abdominal cramps, loss of bowel control)

with psychic symptoms
(ex- stimulates emotions such as fear, feeling of deja vu, voices may be heard)

Complex Partial (consciousness is impaired)

with simple partial onset
(starts as a simple partial seizure but spreads quickly to areas that affect consciousness ; staring, confusion, loss of alertness, or aimless movements)

with loss of consciousness at onset
(does not start as a simple partial; no change in function before consciousness is impaired; ex- blank stare, wandering around room, repetitive movements, picking at clothes)


GENERALIZED
(may or may not be convulsive)
Absence Seizures
Simple
(starts suddenly w/o warning; a glazed look on the face and stares, unaware of what is going on; sometimes there may be eye blinking or head bobbing; lasts just a few seconds and abruptly ends w/ no confusion, immediately alert; maybe mistaken for daydreaming)
Atypical
(similar to simple absence but has more pronounced motor involvement; ie- tonic or clonic spells, involuntary behaviors such as in complex partial seizures)
Myoclonic Seizures
(abrupt jerks of muscle groups; foot may kick, hand may jerk, or entire body may jerk as if being hit with an electric shock, may be thrown to the ground; a series of myoclonic jerks several times a day is termed infantile spasms; very difficult to control)
Atonic Seizures
(sudden loss of tone or posture, body goes limp and may fall to the ground)
Tonic-Clonic Seizures
(most common seizure type in children; tonic phase- loss of consciousness, eyes roll, contracting (stiffening) of all the muscles including the chest making it difficult to breathe, face and lips may to blue, lasts for a few seconds-usually less than 30 sec. followed by clonic phase- rhythmic jerking, fists are clenched, usually lasts for a few seconds, jerking slows and stops, ended by a deep sigh; then enters the post-ictal state for a few minutes: not awake and doesn’t respond, after this, may sleep or be woken up, but may be tired and confused and sore)
Tonic Seizures
(just the tonic (stiffening) phase of the tonic-clonic seizure lasting less than a minute followed by a post-ictal sleep)
Clonic Seizures
(rare- just the clonic (jerking) phase of the tonic-clonic seizure)