Epilepsy vs. Seizures: Understanding the Difference

Seizures have been described as irregular action of the nerves in your brain, and sometimes these irregularities can become perennial or chronic. When seizures become a consistent problem, this circumstance is called epilepsy. You may have a seizure without having epilepsy, but you can ’ t have epilepsy without seizures — even if they don ’ thymine induce obvious effects. Find out what distinguishes these seizures from epilepsy and what you can do to manage these conditions.

What’s the difference between epilepsy and seizures?

Seizures are individual occurrences of abnormal electrical action in the brain. There are many causes of seizures, including singular events like a medication reaction. Epilepsy, on the other hand, is a chronic neurological disorder that causes recur capture bodily process. It ’ second crucial to treat the fundamental campaign of person seizures and to know when to differentiate between a standalone capture and epilepsy .

What’s a seizure?

Your brain works by sending electrical signals through nerve cells. If these signals are altered or interrupted, it can cause a seizure. Seizures come in many forms and are triggered by a total of events and conditions. One capture entirely doesn ’ thyroxine mean you have epilepsy, but if you have two or more seizures, you may be diagnosed with epilepsy. Seizures are the basal symptom of epilepsy, but they can besides be caused by a number of other events. Nonepileptic seizures are seizures brought on by situations that aren ’ thyroxine related to epilepsy. Some of the causes of nonepileptic seizures include :

  • fever
  • head injuries
  • infections like meningitis
  • choking
  • alcohol withdrawal
  • drug withdrawal
  • very high blood pressure
  • metabolic problems like kidney or liver failure
  • low blood sugar levels
  • stroke
  • a brain tumor

Seizures don ’ metric ton constantly appear as fierce shake. There are several types of seizures, and they ’ ra rip into two categories : generalized and focal .

Generalized seizures

  • Absence seizures. Also called petit mal, these may cause you may to lose focus, blink rapidly, or stare out into space for a few seconds.
  • Tonic-clonic seizures. Also called grand mal, these may cause you to cry out, fall to the ground, or experience strong muscle jerking or contractions.

Focal seizures

  • Simple focal seizures. These affect just a small part of the brain and can have minimal symptoms, like a small twitch or a strange taste in your mouth.
  • Complex focal seizures. These involve multiple areas of the brain and can cause confusion. You may become disoriented or unable to respond from a few seconds to a few minutes.
  • Secondary generalized seizures. These seizures begin as a focal seizure in one part of the brain and progress to a generalized seizure.

What is epilepsy?

epilepsy is the checkup diagnose given to the condition in which you experience perennial seizures. When these seizures are tied to another event — like drug or alcohol withdrawal — the fundamental cause is treated, and it ’ randomness normally diagnosed as a nonepileptic capture. however, when there ’ s no known implicit in campaign, it ’ south considered an motiveless seizure and may be the leave of abnormal or unexplained electric impulses in your brain. There are several kinds of epilepsy :

  • Progressive myoclonic epilepsy. This includes several rare, generally hereditary conditions that stem from metabolic disorders. This disorder usually begins late in childhood or in the teen years and appears with seizure activity, myoclonus, and weakness that become progressively worse over time.
  • Refractory epilepsy. Your epilepsy may be called refractory if the seizures continue despite medication.
  • Reflex epilepsy. These types of epilepsy involve seizures are triggered by external or internal stimuli like emotions, temperature changes, or lights.
  • Photosensitive epilepsy. This is the most common type of reflex epilepsy and is triggered by flashing or strobing lights. This type of epilepsy usually begins during childhood and may lessen or disappear in the adult years.
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There are besides a few types of epilepsy that are specific to childhood, including :

  • Myoclonic astatic epilepsy of childhood (Doose syndrome). These seizures are characterized by a sudden loss of muscle control with no known cause.
  • Benign rolandic epilepsy (BRE). These seizures involve twitching, numbness, or tingling of the face or tongue and can cause speech problems or drooling. This condition usually ends in adolescence.
  • Rasmussen syndrome. This rare autoimmune syndrome is characterized by focal seizures which are usually the first symptom. Surgery is typically the best treatment for this condition, as seizures can be difficult to manage with medications.
  • Lennox-Gastaut syndrome. This rare condition involves multiple types of seizures and is often seen in children with developmental delays. The cause for this condition is unknown.
  • Electrical status epilepticus of sleep (ESES). This disorder is characterized by seizures during sleep and abnormal EEG findings during sleep. It usually occurs in school-aged children, mainly while they sleep. It can involve learning or language delays as well.
  • Sturge-Weber syndrome. Children with this condition usually have nevus flammeus — also called a port-wine stain — on their scalp, forehead, or around the eye. They can have seizures, weakness, developmental delays, and vision difficulties. Surgery is sometimes required when medications can’t manage the condition.
  • Juvenile myoclonic epilepsy. This condition starts around puberty and mostly appears as small, rapid jerking movements called myoclonic seizures. Absence seizures may also occur. This condition can usually be managed with medication.

How is epilepsy diagnosed?

epilepsy is diagnosed in a count of steps, but first, your doctor will want to be sure you don ’ t have any other conditions that might be causing seizures. possible conditions include diabetes, immune disorders, medications, throw, or genius tumor. Your doctor of the church will likely perform the following checks to look for fundamental conditions or to try to uncover another reason for your seizures :

  • a complete medical history, examining medications you take and any existing conditions
  • a neurological exam to test your cranial nerves, balance, and reflexes
  • blood testing to check your electrolytes and look for other abnormal values that could trigger seizure activity
  • imaging studies like a computed tomography exam or MRI to look for abnormal masses or accumulations of fluid that could be increasing pressure in your brain
  • activity testing like an electroencephalogram (EEG) to show the patterns of electrical impulses in your brain
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Why do people get epilepsy?

epilepsy can arise as a leave of a count of checkup conditions, injuries, or ancestral disorders. Some examples include :

  • stroke
  • head trauma
  • congenital brain damage
  • brain damage from lack of oxygen (hypoxic brain damage)
  • brain tumors
  • drug and alcohol use or withdrawal
  • infections that affect the neurologic system

In some cases, your doctor of the church may not be able to pinpoint a cause of your epilepsy. These conditions are normally called idiopathic, or of strange origin .

Can you prevent epilepsy?

The World Health Organization ( WHO ) estimates that up to a quarter of all epilepsy cases can be prevented. While this doesn ’ t apply to epilepsy caused by genetics, the WHO shares a number of measures that could help prevent epilepsy, including :

  • preventing head injuries
  • improving prenatal care to reduce birth injuries
  • making appropriate medications and methods available to reduce childhood fevers and prevent febrile seizures
  • reducing cardiovascular risks like smoking, alcohol use, and obesity
  • treating infections and eliminating parasites that can cause epilepsy from central nervous system infections

What are common risk factors for developing epilepsy?

Stroke is one of the major causes of epilepsy that begins by and by in biography, but many epileptic conditions begin in childhood. Genetics play a function in epilepsy a well. other factors that may increase your risk for seizures if you have epilepsy include :

  • sleep deprivation
  • poor diet
  • drug or alcohol use

What are the symptoms of epilepsy?

epilepsy can have a wide range of symptoms, from staring off into space to jerking uncontrollably. Some people who have epilepsy may experience multiple types of seizures. Some people with seizures have noticed an aura or strange ace that serves as a warning signal before a seizure begins. This can come in the shape of a ocular disturbance, healthy, or feeling of anxiety. Auras are sometimes a type of focal, or petit mal, seizure, and can be followed by a distinguished mal seizure. These are normally called junior-grade generalize seizures. Depending on the type of capture you have, you may experience any of the pursue symptoms :

  • anxiousness
  • mood changes
  • nausea
  • dizziness
  • vision changes
  • weakness
  • headache
  • muscle jerking
  • spasms
  • loss of balance
  • teeth clenching
  • biting your tongue
  • rapid blinking or eye movements
  • unusual noises
  • loss of bladder or bowel control
  • confusion
  • loss of consciousness

How is epilepsy treated?

There are a batch of medications used to control seizure activeness and epilepsy, and there ’ s no one best treatment for everyone. Your repair will need to do specific tests and possibly even try a few different medications to find the correctly one to manage your specific type of capture. Most seizure medications are anti-epileptic medications, like :

  • levetiracetam (Keppra)
  • carbamazepine (Carbatrol, Tegretol)
  • phenytoin (Dilantin, Phenytek)
  • oxcarbazepine (Trileptal)
  • lamotrigine (Lamictal)
  • phenobarbital
  • lorazepam (Ativan)
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Seizures may besides be prevented with operation, such as vagus nerve stimulation, peculiarly if there ’ s a mass or collection of fluid in your mind that is causing the seizures to occur. To treat seizures with operation, your sophisticate has to know the accurate localization in the brain where your seizures are beginning. Don ’ metric ton change your capture discussion without consulting your doctor of the church. With the advice of your doctor, you may want to consider other options as well. Diet changes, like using a ketogenic diet, can be effective for people who have certain types of fractious epilepsy. Some people report success in reducing the number of seizures caused by triggers by adding complementary color, alternate, or natural treatments to their medical capture treatments, including :

  • herbal treatments
  • vitamin supplements
  • meditation
  • chiropractic care
  • acupuncture

What’s the outlook for people with epilepsy?

Being born with epilepsy doesn ’ t inevitably mean you ’ ll have the condition everlastingly. Some childhood capture disorders fade in adulthood, while others don ’ thymine start until the adolescent years. New onset of epilepsy is most common in childhood or after old age 60. For older adults, stroke, traumatic injury, and drug and alcohol practice are primary coil factors. The good newsworthiness is that there are many options for medications that manage seizures. If one doesn ’ t work for you, don ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate concern. Your sophisticate may need to try several medications or a combination of therapies to find the right field solution. You may besides need to change medications every so often. operating room may be helpful if your seizures don ’ metric ton react to medication, but for many people, epilepsy is a lifelong condition. life style changes may be required to help control the condition, and you may be prevented from doing certain activities, like drinking alcohol or driving a car. Unmanaged epilepsy can lead to brain damage and early problems .

The bottom line

Seizures can occur on the spur of the moment and for no apparent reason. People who have repeated seizures — either because of another condition or for no obvious reason at all — are diagnosed with a condition called epilepsy.

epileptic seizures are caused by abnormal electric signals in the brain that cause you to lose focus, muscle control, or even consciousness. Your doctor may have to run a bunch of tests to uncover the lawsuit of your seizures, and it may take respective medications to find the correct fix. condom is a big concern when people have seizures, and it ’ s authoritative that those around you know what to do when a seizure happens .

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