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What Is Epilepsy?

Epilepsy is one of the most common conditions that affect the brain. The term covers a spectrum of brain disorders characterized by seizures, which are sudden changes in muscle tone, movements, behaviors or states of awareness. Seizures are caused by uncontrolled electrical activity between brain cells. You may be diagnosed with epilepsy if you have had at least two seizures that weren’t caused by a medical problem, such as very low blood sugar or alcohol withdrawal.

Epilepsy affects people of all ages. The specialists at Premier Brain & Spine understand how much impact uncontrolled seizures can have on every aspect of your life. They strive to provide the most advanced treatment available to help you with epilepsy or any other conditions that affect your brain or spine.

What Are the Symptoms of Epilepsy?

The symptoms of epilepsy vary widely, depending on the type of seizure you have. Some signs that a seizure is the result of epilepsy include:

    • Stiff muscles
    • A staring spell
    • Loss of awareness or sensation
    • Involuntary twitching
    • Loss of consciousness

Seizures are divided into two main groups: generalized and focal. Seizures that affect both sides of the brain are known as generalized seizures, while those that affect a specific part of the brain are called focal seizures.

What Causes Epilepsy?

The cause of epilepsy isn’t always known. Different conditions that affect your brain increase the risk of developing epilepsy. These may include:

Infections that cause inflammation around your brain and spinal cord can trigger a seizure disorder. Genetics appears to be a factor, as people with an epileptic sibling or parent are at increased risk of developing this condition.

How Is Epilepsy Treated?

The goal of epilepsy treatment is to stop or lessen your seizures. While some seizures may not cause problems, uncontrolled seizures can lead to car accidents, falls or drowning. The most common forms of treatment include

  • Medication. Anti-seizure medication is almost always the first treatment recommended. A single medication or a combination of medications may be effective.
  • Surgery. When medications don’t effectively control seizures, surgery may be an option if seizures come from a single area in the brain and that area doesn’t control such functions as speech, vision, hearing or motor function.

When seizures are difficult to control, your doctor may recommend vagus nerve stimulation. For this treatment, a small device is implanted under the skin on your chest. This device sends electrical impulses to a nerve in your neck known as the vagus nerve. The device can reduce seizure frequency but isn’t likely to eliminate them. Some forms of epilepsy may improve with diet therapy, such as a ketogenic diet or a modified Atkins diet.

When Should I Call a Doctor?

See a doctor when you experience a seizure for the first time. Make an appointment to see an epilepsy specialist if you have a seizure that lasts longer than five minutes or if your seizures aren’t being controlled by current medication.

When you’re living with epilepsy, you need a doctor you can trust. Premier Brain & Spine has New Jersey’s top neurosurgeons. Contact them to schedule a consultation today at one of their ten convenient locations.

Updated on Oct 24, 2022 by Dr. David Wells-Roth (Neurosurgeon) of Premier Brain & Spine

Premier Brain & Spine
10 Parsonage Rd, Suite 208A
Edison, NJ 08837
(732) 258-0190