National Epilepsy Awareness Month

Epilepsy is a chronic neurological disorder that causes abnormal brain activity, resulting in symptoms such as seizures, loss of awareness, and unusual behaviors. Generally, a diagnosis of epilepsy is given to people who have experienced two unprovoked seizures (meaning that they have no clear identifiable cause) within a 24-hour period.

There are several different types of seizures, each of which can cause different symptoms to occur. In most cases, 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. Some of these types (and the symptoms associated with them) include:

  • Absence seizures (staring into space with potential loss of awareness)
  • Tonic seizures (muscle stiffening in the back, arms, and legs with potential loss of consciousness)
  • Atonic seizures (loss of muscle control, typically results in falls)
  • Clonic seizures (repeated jerking muscle movements in the face, neck, and arms)
  • Myoclonic seizures (sudden jerking or twitching in the upper body, arms, and legs)
  • Tonic-clonic seizures (sudden loss of consciousness with body stiffening, twitching, and shaking)
  • Focal seizures (affects a specific part of the brain, causing altered or impaired awareness and perception of your environment and senses)

While epilepsy often has no identifiable cause, approximately half of all cases can be traced to a variety of different factors, including:

  • Family history
  • Head trauma
  • Stroke
  • Infectious diseases such as meningitis, encephalitis, or AIDS
  • Developmental disorders such as 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 may eventually go away. Some children with epilepsy may outgrow the condition with age.

You can receive specialized neurological treatment for epilepsy at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center’s Department of Neurosurgery. To get more information about our services or to schedule an appointment, please call (718) 206-6713.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.