Epilepsy also referred to as a “seizure disorder,” is a chronic condition that affects the central nervous system. Those with this neurological disorder experience abnormal brain activity, which results in unpredictable and unprovoked seizures as well as other unusual behaviors, sensations, and sometimes loss of awareness.
Because epilepsy is caused by abnormal activity in the brain, seizures can affect any process the brain coordinates. Seizure signs and symptoms may include:
- Temporary confusion
- A staring spell
- Uncontrollable jerking movements of the arms and legs
- Loss of consciousness or awareness
- Psychic symptoms such as fear, anxiety or déjà vu
A person with epilepsy may experience different symptoms than others with the same disorder. In most cases however, a person with epilepsy will tend to have the same type of seizure each time, so the symptoms will be similar from episode to episode.
While epilepsy has no identifiable cause, about half the cases can be traced to a variety of different factors, including:
- Family history
- Head trauma
- Infectious diseases, such as meningitis encephalitis, or AIDS
- Developmental disorders, including autism
Medications or surgery can control seizures for the majority of people with epilepsy. Some people require lifelong treatment to control seizures, but for others, the seizures eventually go away. Some children with epilepsy may outgrow the condition with age.
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