Seizures episodes of abnormal mental or muscular activity are
the basic indicator of epilepsy. They vary widely:
- Staring straight ahead and lapsing into complete immobility for a few
seconds characterize a petit mal seizure.
- Loss of consciousness, rhythmic jerking motions and incontinence are
among the signs of a grand mal seizure, which may last up to 30 minutes.
- Repetitive lip smacking, aimless fiddling movements, and a sense of
detachment from surroundings may indicate a temporal lobe seizure.
- Rhythmic twitching of a hand, a foot or the face, often followed by a
period of weakness or paralysis, indicates a Jacksonian seizure.
- Convulsions in an already ill child 3 months to 3 years old, resulting
from a sudden climb in fever, indicate a febrile seizure.
Most cases of epilepsy are of unknown origin. Sometimes, however, a genetic
basis is indicated, and other cases may be traceable to birth trauma, lead
poisoning, congenital brain infection, head injury, alcohol or drug addiction,
or the effects of organ disease. Triggers for the attacks also vary widely.
Among the factors that can bring on attacks are certain chemicals or foods,
sleep deprivation, stress, flashing lights, menstruation, some prescription
and over-the-counter medications, and possibly oral contraceptives.
DIAGNOSTIC AND TEST PROCEDURES
An electroencephalogram (EEG) performed on a sleep-deprived individual can
reveal abnormal brain waves characteristic of epilepsy, and imaging tests
such as an MRI or CT scan can identify physical trauma that may be causing
Epilepsy can often be well controlled by medication. A recommended
precaution for epileptics is to wear a Medic Alert bracelet so that other
people can quickly recognize what is happening during a seizure and lend