Emergency Room Care for Seizures and Epilepsy

Seizures - Symptoms and causes

Seizure: What It Is, Causes, Symptoms, and Types

A seizure is the physical changes in behavior that occurs after an episode of abnormal electrical activity in the brain. There are many types of seizures, which range in symptoms and severity. Seizure types vary by where in the brain they begin and how far they spread. Most seizures last from 30 seconds to two minutes. A seizure that lasts longer than five minutes is a medical emergency.

Seizures are more common than you might think. Seizures can happen after a stroke, a closed head injury, an infection such as meningitis or another illness. Many times, though, the cause of a seizure is unknown.

Common Causes of Seizures

  • Epilepsy – Epilepsy is one of the most common causes of seizures, and there are several different types. Epilepsy is a nervous system disorder that disrupts the normal electrical transmissions in the brain. The disorder can affect one side or both sides of the brain, and it can vary in severity.
  • Head Injuries – Severe head injuries can cause seizures, especially if the person has also sustained a concussion or a skull fracture. These often occur after a fall, while playing contact sports and in automobile accidents. It may be a few hours or even a few days before symptoms of a head injury appear, which is why a person who has a head injury should see a doctor as soon as possible.
  • Substance Abuse – Drugs and alcohol can cause seizures if they are abused. Amphetamine addicts may have seizures because the drug alters the way that the brain functions. If an alcoholic or drug addict stops drinking or using drugs, he may experience seizures as he goes through withdrawal.
  • Cerebral Palsy – Cerebral palsy occurs when an infant’s brain is injured while he is still in the womb or early in infancy. A person with cerebral palsy may experience seizures throughout his life as a result of the disorder, but he may be able to take medication to minimize the occurrence and severity of his seizures.
  • Brain Aneurysm – A brain aneurysm occurs when a blood vessel in the brain fills with blood and begins to bulge. This is a very serious condition, and it can lead to death if the vessel bursts. An aneurysm may cause seizures, weakness and loss of consciousness.

Epilepsy and Seizures

Epilepsy is a disorder of the brain. People are diagnosed with epilepsy when they have had two or more seizures.

There are many types of seizures. A person with epilepsy can have more than one type of seizure.

The signs of a seizure depend on the type of seizure.

Sometimes it is hard to tell when a person is having a seizure. A person having a seizure may seem confused or look like they are staring at something that isn’t there. Other seizures can cause a person to fall, shake, and become unaware of what’s going on around them.

Major Types of Seizures

Seizures are classified into two groups.

1. Generalized seizures affect both sides of the brain.

  • Absence seizures, sometimes called petit mal seizures, can cause rapid blinking or a few seconds of staring into space.
  • Tonic-clonic seizures, also called grand mal seizures, can make a person
    • Cry out.
    • Lose consciousness.
    • Fall to the ground.
    • Have muscle jerks or spasms.

The person may feel tired after a tonic-clonic seizure.

Focal seizures are located in just one area of the brain.

These seizures are also called partial seizures.

  • Simple focal seizures affect a small part of the brain. These seizures can cause twitching or a change in sensation, such as a strange taste or smell.
  • Complex focal seizures can make a person with epilepsy confused or dazed. The person will be unable to respond to questions or direction for up to a few minutes.
  • Secondary generalized seizures begin in one part of the brain, but then spread to both sides of the brain. In other words, the person first has a focal seizure, followed by a generalized seizure.

Seizures may last as long as a few minutes.

When to Seek Emergency Room

If you have a medical disorder that can cause seizures, then you should always make sure that the people around you can recognize a seizure as it happens.

Symptoms of a seizure include:

  • You sustain a severe head injury
  • You experience a seizure for the first time
  • Your seizures are worsening or are occurring more frequently
  • A person who is having a seizure does not regain consciousness

Seizures can cause permanent damage to the brain, and it is important that you see a doctor as soon as possible to minimize the effects. You should go to the nearest emergency room as soon as possible.

If you or someone you know is suffering from a seizure, visit ER of Texas Emergency Center as soon as possible. We have multiple emergency rooms open 24 hours a day, staffed by board-certified physicians in Dallas, Forth Worth area including Highland Village, Little Elm, Frisco, Hurst, Colleyville, Mansfield, Hillcrest, Sherman, and Uptown, TX.

Our ER is open 24/7 to help treat and diagnose minor and major emergencies. Schedule an emergency room appointment with us. Our board-certified physicians are available 24 hours.