Did you know that Julius Caesar and Napoleon Bonaparte had epilepsy? One to 2 percent of all people have epilepsy, a common neurological (brain) disease that causes seizures.
When someone has a seizure, the electrical signals coming from the brain are not normal. During a seizure, someone may experience:
- Loss of senses, such as hearing, seeing or feeling
- Loss of control of their muscles or bladder
Types of Seizures
There are many different types of seizures.
Partial seizures occur in only part of the brain. Simple partial seizures (called Jacksonian or focal seizures) don't last very long. Someone may hear, smell or visualize something unusual or nonexistent and jerk only one part of the body.
Complex partial (psychomotor) seizures may cause someone to hear or see unreal things..
If a seizure occurs on both sides of the brain, it is called a general seizure. There are several types of general seizures:
- Tonic-clonic (also called grand mal, which means great sickness) seizures: both sides of the brain send out a large number of electrical signals. The person's body becomes stiff and twitches or jerks.
- Absence (petit mal) seizures: a person stares or stops moving for about five to 30 seconds.
- Myoclonic seizure: the part of the brain that controls motion sends electrical signals incorrectly, causing a person's body to jerk.
- Atonic seizure: a person loses control of their muscles and collapses.
- Status epilepticus: when someone has multiple seizures without waking up between them. This is a serious medical emergency.
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Causes of Seizures
Doctors don't always know what causes seizures, but causes may include a head injury, injuries at birth or brain disease.
If someone has a seizure:
- Remain calm
- Move any dangerous objects out of the person's way
- Put a soft object under the person's head
- Turn the person onto one side
- Do not try to open or put something inside the person's mouth
- Do not try to prevent the person from moving
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Seizures and Activities
People with epilepsy can play most sports, though they sometimes need extra protection, such as a helmet to protect their head from injuries.
Some sports are more dangerous for people with epilepsy. These include:
- Scuba diving
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