First Seizures A first seizure is a one-time event that can be brought on by a drug or by anesthesia. These seizures usually don't recur.
Some seizures may occur on their own, without any trigger. In the majority of cases, these seizures won't take place again unless the person has suffered brain damage, or has a family history of epilepsy.
Febrile Seizures Febrile seizures can occur in a child with a high fever, and usually don't develop into epilepsy. The chances of having another febrile seizure are 25% to 30%. There is a higher risk of seizure recurrence if the child has a family history of epilepsy, some damage to the nervous system before the seizure, or a long or complicated seizure.
Nonepileptic Events Nonepileptic events look like seizures, but actually are not. Conditions that may cause nonepileptic events include narcolepsy (a sleep disorder causing recurrent episodes of sleep during the day), Tourette's syndrome (a neurological condition characterized by vocal and body tics), and abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmias). Nonepileptic events that have a psychological basis are known as psychogenic seizures. A person who has this type of seizure may simply be trying to avoid stressful situations or may have a psychiatric problem. Because most people who have these types of seizures don't have epilepsy, they are often treated by psychiatrists and/or other mental health specialists. One way of distinguishing an epileptic seizure with a nonepileptic seizure is through an electroencephalogram (EEG), coupled with video monitoring. The EEG detects abnormal electrical discharges in the brain that are characteristic of epilepsy, and along with video monitoring to capture a seizure on camera, can confirm a diagnosis.
Eclampsia Eclampsia is a dangerous condition suffered by pregnant women. The symptoms include seizures and a sudden rise in blood pressure. A pregnant woman who has an unexpected seizure should be taken to the hospital immediately. After the eclampsia is treated and the baby is delivered, the mother usually will not have any more seizures or develop epilepsy.
Encephalitis Encephalitis is an inflammation of the brain and is usually caused by a viral infection. Symptoms include fever, headache, vomiting, confusion, and stiff neck.
Migraine Migraine is a type of headache thought to be caused, in part, by a neurological dysfunction and narrowing of blood vessels in the head and neck, which reduces the flow of blood to the brain. People who have migraines may also have auras and other symptoms, including dizziness, nausea, and vomiting. Certain conditions may bring about a migraine, including allergies, menstrual periods, and muscle tension. Some foods, including red wine, chocolate, nuts, caffeine, and peanut butter, can also cause a migraine.
Fifty percent of all patients with newly diagnosed epilepsy will become seizure-free with the first epilepsy drug they try. For the rest, it's try, try again: switching epilepsy medications, adjusting to side effects, and waiting to make sure the new drug works. Others find their seizures are controlled, but they can't tolerate the medication's side effects and need to switch drugs.
Before you ask your doctor if your medication should be switched, make sure you are taking your current medication...
SOURCES: National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. University of South Florida School of Medicine: ''Psychogenic (Non-Epileptic) Seizures,'' Selim R. Benbadis, MD, and Leanne Heriaud, RN, authors.
Jennifer Robinson, MD on January 24, 2015