A seizure is unusual electrical activity in the brain. These impulses often cause many symptoms, such as jerking of the body or losing consciousness.
When the symptoms of the seizure are not noticeable it is known as a subclinical seizure.
Patients with subclinical seizures do not show any symptoms.
Causes and Risk Factors
Seizures can be linked to:
- Serious head injury
- Brain tumor
- Brain infection (meningitis or encephalitis)
- Alzheimer's disease
- Loss of oxygen at birth
- Hardening of the brain's arteries
Children are more likely than adults to develop seizures from an unknown cause. A family history of seizures may sometimes be a factor. However, experts are not sure how the condition is passed from parent to child.
The most useful way to diagnose epileptic seizures is an electroencephalogram (EEG). This records electrical activity in the brain. The EEG can record unusual spikes or waves in electrical activity patterns. Different types of epilepsy can be identified with these patterns.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computed tomography (CT) scans may be used to look at the cause and the location within the brain. The scans can show scar tissue, tumors or structural problems in the brain.
For many people with simple partial seizures, correct treatment can lower or prevent seizures. In some cases, patients may not have any more seizures for the rest of their life.
Partial and generalized seizures are often treated differently. Treatment is based on:
- The type of seizure
- How often seizures happen
- How severe the seizures are
- The patient's age
- The patient's overall health
- The patient's medical history
Anti-seizure (or anti-epileptic) medications can be very helpful. It may take a few tries to get the right medication and dose. The doctor will watch for side effects to find the best treatment.
Surgery may be an option if medication can't control the seizures.
Certain lifestyle changes may also be used:
- Special high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet (ketogenic diet)
- Getting plenty of sleep
- Avoiding certain triggers, such as flickering lights
The staff at the Cedars-Sinai Epilepsy Program will work with each patient to determine the best treatment option.