Tongue-biting, thrashing limbs, eyes rolled in the back of the head -- witnessing someone with epilepsy having a convulsive seizure can be truly frightening. But most seizures aren't an emergency; they stop on their own, with no permanent ill effects.
There is little you can do to stop a seizure once it has started. But by learning a few tips, you can protect a person with epilepsy from harm during seizures. It's worth knowing some basic first aid for seizures -- and when it's time to call 911.
A seizure occurs when a burst of electrical impulses in the brain escape their normal limits. They spread to neighboring areas and create an uncontrolled storm of electrical activity. The electrical impulses can be transmitted to the muscles, causing twitches or convulsions.
Causes of Epilepsy
There are around 180,000 new cases of epilepsy each year. About 30% occur in children. Children and elderly adults are the ones most often affected.
There is a clear cause for epilepsy in only a minority of the cases. Typically, the known causes of seizure involve some injury to the brain. Some of the main causes of epilepsy include:
low oxygen during birth
head injuries that occur during birth or from accidents during youth or adulthood
genetic conditions that result in brain injury, such as tuberous sclerosis
abnormal levels of substances such as sodium or blood sugar
In up to 70% of all case of epilepsy in adults and children, no cause can ever be discovered.
Causes of Seizures
Although the underlying causes of epilepsy are usually not known, certain factors are known to provoke seizures in people with epilepsy. Avoiding these triggers can help you avoid seizures and live better with epilepsy: