Learn The Facts About Epilepsy

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
  • Experiencing 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
  • Stroke
  • 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.

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.

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.

Seizure First Aid Do’s and Don’ts

A seizure can be a frightening event for the person who is experiencing it as well as the bystander.  According to WebMD, “tonic-clonic seizures are the most dramatic and frightening.”

During tonic-clonic (grand mal) seizures, a person may convulse (jerking movements), lose consciousness, have stiffened muscles or bite their tongue or cheek.  A person can also lose control of their bladder or bowels.

What should you do in the event that someone you know is having a tonic- clonic seizure? Here is how you can help them:

  • Keep calm
  • Cushion or support their head
  • Look to see if they own an epilepsy card or identification jewelry-this may provide you with information about the next steps you can take
  • Protect them from injury by removing objects  within reach
  • Lay them on their side
  • Loosen tight clothing, especially around the neck
  • Time how long convulsions last
  • Once convulsions have stopped, place them in the recovery position (pictured below)

seizures

 

 

 

 

 

It is also important to know what not to do during these seizures, do not:

  • Put anything in their mouths
  • Restrict or restrain their movements
  • Try to move them (only do so if they are in danger)
  • Feed them or give them beverages (wait until they are fully alert)

If seizures continue for more than five minutes, call 9-1-1 immediately.   Other times you should call emergency services is if, you know this is the person’s first seizure, they are having seizures one after the other, they are pregnant, there are injuries caused by the seizure or you believe they are in need of urgent medical attention.

For more information on seizure first aid, please visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) https://www.cdc.gov/epilepsy/basics/first-aid.htm.

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.

Rare but True – Alice in Wonderland Syndrome

Alice in Wonderland Syndrome is a rare, but real condition, but it doesn’t involve the Mad Hatter or the Cheshire Cat.

ThinkstockPhotos-466154054 (1)Alice in Wonderland syndrome (AIWS) is a neurological condition where the sufferer has temporary episodes of a distorted perception of their own size and the size of things around them. People with this condition visualize themselves as big as giants or as small as insects. The objects around them also appear abnormally large or small. For instance, someone with AIWS will perceive a teacup either as big as a car or as small as a thimble.

This hallucination-like state typically lasts anywhere from five to 30 minutes. People with AIWS also may experience an impaired sense of space, with objects suddenly seeming very close or far away. In some cases, the sense of touch and sound may also be distorted.

The syndrome references the adventures from the famous novel by Lewis Carroll, where the title character Alice experiences strange events in Wonderland. Many believe that the Carroll himself suffered from this disease and was the inspiration for the story.
The cause of the condition is unknown, although the episodes have been closely associated with the onset of migraine headaches or epilepsy. AIWS can affect anyone, but it is most common in children and young adults. Episodes stop for most over time, but those who experience symptoms are recommended to see a doctor immediately.

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.