After a person has had at least two unprovoked seizures (that is, seizures not initiated by a blow to the head or other natural cause), it is generally considered to be a seizure disorder. Epilepsy is a general term used to describe the tendency to have recurring seizures. However, there are other disorders that can be associated with the onset of seizures.
The severity, type, and frequency of seizures can vary from person to person. Some people have partial seizures triggered by nerves in one part of the brain that only affect a localized part of the body with symptoms such as muscle twitching, vision changes, dizziness or sensory changes. But other patients experience general seizures (also called grand mal seizures) that occur in both sides of the brain and affect the entire body with convulsions, severe muscle spasms, clenched teeth, and lack of consciousness. Another type is the absence seizure, in which the patient goes mentally blank and stares off into space. If any type of seizure occurs while driving it can be fatal to the driver as well as others on the road.
Seizures are most common in early childhood and after age 60. There are many causes of seizures, such as:
- Hormonal changes
- Drug abuse or overreaction
- Exposure to toxinsStroke
- Brain tumor
- Previous brain injuries
- Heart problems
There could be a multitude of causes for a person to experience a seizure. The neurons, or nerve cells, in your brain will create, send and receive electrical impulses. These impulses allow the nerve cells in the brain to communicate; however, if this communication pathway is disturbed it can lead to a seizure. Ways in which this disturbance happens are high fever, lack of sleep hyponatremia (low blood sodium), certain medications, head trauma, stroke, brain tumor, drug or alcohol abuse.
Dr. Deborah Cantrell has studied and dedicated many years to helping those that suffer from seizure disorders. She has found that through performing neurological exams in which your behavior, motor abilities and mental function will be tested to determine if you have a problem with your brain and nervous system. Blood tests, and even spinal taps can be administered to excrete a small amount of cerebrospinal fluid for testing. The most common test performed at Elite Neuroscience Center is an electroencephalogram (EEG) where electrodes placed on your scalp measure your brain’s activity and report back, in wavy lines, showing any patterns or signs of seizures.
Once the exams are performed, Dr. Cantrell and her staff can create a specialized and dedicated treatment program just for you. Some of the treatments may include medication, vagus nerve stimulation, responsive neurostimualtion, deep brain stimulation or even a simple change in diet and lifestyle.