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Epilepsy: Seizure Triggers, Warning Signs, and Symptoms

What is Epilepsy?

Epilepsy is a disorder that causes recurrent seizures due to a disruption in brain function. There are two main types of epileptic seizures. Generalized seizures involve the entire brain, and partial seizures involve different areas of the brain. Besides seizures, epilepsy can cause changes in a person’s behavior or their ability to pay attention. Epilepsy affects both sexes and people of all ages and usually begins in childhood.

Types of Seizures

Generalized seizures include grand mal seizures. In these seizures, the patient loses consciousness, falls and becomes incontinent. Their arms and legs spasm. In an absence, or petit mal seizure the person loses consciousness briefly, and in a myoclonic seizure, the person has brief spasmodic movements. In an atonic seizure, they suddenly lose muscle tone, which can result in falls.

Partial epileptic seizures include simple partial seizures. The patient regains consciousness, though they are weak and experiences strange tastes or smells. They experience numbness, muscle twitching, vertigo, changes in their vision and may turn their head to the side. In a complex partial seizure, their consciousness is altered, they may have bizarre thoughts, hallucinations, repetitive behavior and experience strange odors.

What Are Some Seizure Triggers?

A variety of triggers can lead to epileptic seizures. They include not taking medications on a regular schedule and lack of sleep. Alcohol is a trigger for some people, especially if their alcohol use leads to a hangover. Some people are triggered by flashing lights. This is called photosensitive epilepsy and is uncommon. Even people who do not have epilepsy can be made uncomfortable by strobing lights.

Other triggers are certain types of music. The seizures are brought on not just by listening to the music but by playing it or even thinking about it. This is called musicogenic epilepsy and is extremely rare. Doctors believe it only affects one in 10 million people with epilepsy. On the other hand, some forms of music actually help repress seizures.

What Are Some Seizure Warning Signs?

Patients know that a seizure is about to start because:

  • They feel odd, almost indescribable sensations.
  • Their sense of smell, taste or touch may be altered.
  • They may feel detached from their body.
  • They may believe that strangers look familiar or loved ones look suddenly strange.
  • They may feel spacey, confused and have problems with their memory.
  • They lapse into daydreams or a part of their body jerks.
  • They may have headaches and become suddenly incontinent.

Some of these symptoms are not only signs that a seizure is about to begin but symptoms of the seizure itself.

Contact the Neurology Center for Epilepsy & Seizure Today

If you suspect that you or your child are suffering from epilepsy, don’t hesitate to contact Dr. Amor Mehta at the Neurology Center for Epilepsy & Seizures. Dr. Mehta and his compassionate staff use the latest technologies and modalities to treat and support our epileptic patients. For more information, call today at 732.800.4587.