Maui Health’s Dr. Bradley Glenn explains what causes the neurological disorder, epilepsy – its symptoms and treatments.
Epilepsy is a neurological disorder that causes seizures. It is caused by a problem with the brain’s structure or electrical activity. Scientists know some of the things that can cause a person to have epilepsy, but sometimes the cause is unknown.
In some cases, epilepsy can be genetic. Epilepsy can be inherited and it is possible to have genes that make a person sensitive to certain things that trigger seizures. Some people are born with an abnormality in their brain that causes epilepsy, and sometimes a head injury, such as a car accident or traumatic brain injury, can cause seizures. Certain infections, such as meningitis, can also cause a person to develop epilepsy.
There are many types of epilepsy and so symptoms, including seizures, can be different from person to person. During a seizure, the person may become confused, freeze and stiffen, twitch, jump uncontrollably, or lose consciousness. They may have a strong psychological reaction such as anxiety or a sense of deja vu.
Treatment is available and can help control or prevent seizures. In most cases, epilepsy can be treated with medication and/or surgery.
Seek immediate medical attention if a person with epilepsy has a seizure that lasts more than 5 minutes, if they do not regain consciousness after a seizure, if a second seizure quickly follows the first, or if the person is injured during the seizure. You should also see a doctor if the person having the seizure is pregnant, has diabetes, or has a high fever.
The bottom line is that epilepsy is a serious disorder, but it is treatable. Talk to your doctor if you think you or someone close to you might have epilepsy.