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New Onset of Seizures (6291)

New Onset of Seizures (6291) - Clinical Hub, Patient Education, Health and Nutrition Facts For You, Neuro, Rehab


New Onset of Seizures

What is a seizure?
Your body reacts to normal electrical signals
sent from the brain to different parts of your
body. A seizure occurs when the brain has a
sudden burst of these electrical signals that
is not normal. This disrupts the normal
function of your body for a brief time.
Epilepsy is a chronic condition that makes
people prone to having seizures that recur
and are often without triggers.

What does a seizure look like?
Signs of a seizure can be very different for
each person. Some may include:
ξ Twitching of one specific part of the
ξ Violent, uncontrolled shaking of the
ξ Staring off into space
ξ Lip smacking
ξ Memory loss
ξ Eyes “rolling back into the head”
ξ Sudden loss of consciousness

What causes a seizure?
There are many causes of seizures.
Sometimes, we do not know what triggers a
seizure. Other times, causes may include:
ξ Congenital (born with seizures)
ξ High fevers
ξ Tumors in the brain
ξ Blood in the brain
ξ Stroke
ξ Aneurysm in the brain
ξ Cyst in the brain
ξ Head injury
ξ Infection
ξ Very low blood sugar
ξ Withdrawal from medicines or drugs
ξ Withdrawal from alcohol
ξ Illnesses like meningitis or encephalitis
ξ Lack of oxygen to the brain

Phases of seizure activity
There are 3 phases of a seizure.

ξ Aura: a sensation or feeling you
might have before the physical part
of the seizure begins

ξ Ictal: the time during which the
seizure occurs

o Family and staff should
protect you from self-harm
during the seizure.
o They should avoid putting
anything into your mouth, as
this will only cause more
o They should also try to keep
your head away from any
hard objects.

ξ Post-ictal: the time after the seizure

o You may feel weak and
sleepy. You could be
difficult to arouse or may be

Will I always have seizures?
ξ The cause of your seizures will
impact how long you are likely to
have seizures.
ξ Some seizures don’t recur after the
cause is treated.
ξ Other seizures persist even after the
cause has been treated.
ξ Your doctor will have a better idea
of how long you can expect to have

How to do you diagnose a seizure?
ξ Health history
ξ Physical exam
ξ Blood tests
ξ EEG (electroencephalography)
records the electrical activity in your
brain. Pain-free electrodes are
placed on your scalp to record the
test results.
ξ MRI (magnetic resonance imaging)
uses a very strong magnet to make a
“picture” of your brain.
ξ CT or CAT scan (computed
tomography) also makes a “picture”
of your brain, but it can show
different images than an MRI.

How do you treat a seizure?

Medicine: You may be placed on one or
more medicines, based on how
your body reacts to the
treatment. This is the first step
for seizure control. Do not
stop taking your medicines
without talking with your
doctor first.

Surgery: Reasons for surgery depend on
where the seizures come from
in the brain and if medicines do
not help stop the seizures. It
can also depend on the cause.
Causes can include tumors,
cysts, aneurysms, or blood in
the brain.

Types of Surgery:
ξ Craniotomy: to remove a
tumor, cyst, blood or
aneurysm that may be
causing the seizures.
ξ Lobectomy: to remove the
part of the brain that is the
source of seizures.
ξ Vagal nerve stimulator: a
device that sends electrical
signals to the vagus nerve,
a large nerve that leads to
the brain.

How will seizures affect my activities?
ξ Until your seizures are well
controlled, you will not be allowed
to drive.
ξ Limit alcohol and illegal drug use.
Both can cause seizures and may
interact with your seizure medicines.
ξ You may have mild memory loss
from the seizures which could affect
your daily routines.
ξ Do not swim alone. Be sure to have
friends or family with you.
ξ Keep bathroom doors unlocked
while bathing. If you have a seizure
while in the bathroom, others can
assist you more quickly.

You can still lead an active life despite
having seizures. These guidelines are to
help keep you safe. If you have questions,
ask your doctor or nurse. You may find the
resources on the next page helpful also.

Epilepsy Foundation
4351 Garden City Drive
Landover, MD 20785
Toll free (sponsored by Novartis):
800-EFA-1000 (English and Spanish)
Fax: 301-577-4941
Web site: www.efa.org

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
Office of Scientific and Health Reports
Room 8A-06, MSC 2540
31 Center Drive
Bethesda, MD 20892-2540
Toll free: 800-352-9424
Web site: www.ninds.nih.gov

The American Academy of Neurology
1080 Montreal Avenue
St. Paul, MN 55116
Phone: 651-695-1940
Web site: www.aan.com

The Spanish version of this Health Facts for You is #7906

Your health care team may have given you this information as part of your care. If so, please use it and call if you
have any questions. If this information was not given to you as part of your care, please check with your doctor.
This is not medical advice. This is not to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Because
each person’s health needs are different, you should talk with your doctor or others on your health care team
when using this information. If you have an emergency, please call 911. Copyright © 6/2016 University of
Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#6291