Guest Author - Carolyn Chambers Clark, RN, EdD
What are seizures?
Epilepsy is a condition characterized by recurring seizures. Electrical imbalances in the nerve cells in the brain lead to seizures. In three-quarters (75%) of the cases, seizures begin in childhood. This type of seizure is characterized by staring spells and a few seconds of mental absence.
What causes seizures?
The causes of most cases of epilepsy are unknown, but they often include lack of oxygen at birth, or later head injuries. Seizures can be triggered by...
* food allergies
* drug or alcohol withdrawal
* flashing lights
* low blood sugar
* lack of sleep
* nutritional imbalances or deficiencies
* loud noises, including rock-and-roll music and even hymns
* certain drugs
What kinds of seizures are there?
* petit mal seizures are most common in children; the child appears to be daydreaming and sits with a blank stare for about half a minute and is unaware of his or her surroundings
* atonic or drop attack is another childhood seizure that includes losing consciousness for about ten seconds and falling to the group with a complete loss of muscle tone
* temporal lobe seizure is characterized by a chewing motion, blank stare and random activity; an aura or warning sign such as a peculiar smell, butterflies in the stomach, or a sound often warns the person a seizure is about to occur; during and after this type of seizure, the person may act oddly, dazed, and unaware of his or her surroundings
* grand mal or generalized tonic-clonic seizures last for two to five minutes and include sudden cries, a fall,rigidity and jerking of the muscles, shallow breathing and bluish skin, and even loss of bladder control; this kind of seizure is followed by fatigue, confusion and/or memory loss
* myoclonic seizures are brief, massive muscle jerks
* Jacksonian seizures are characterized by jerking that begins in the fingers and toes and moves up the body; the person remains conscious
* sensory seizures can occur prior to a generalized seizure; the person may hear, see or sense things that don't exist