ZocdocAnswersWhy do epileptics have seizures?

Question

Why do epileptics have seizures?

What makes them convulse? Are they awake while it happens? My brother might have had a seizure, I'm not reallly sure.

Answer

A "seizure" is a name for abnormal electrical activity in the brain. The brain uses electric signals to communicate within itself and with other parts of the body. When these signals become disregulated and spread in an uncontrolled manner within the brain, a seizure can result. The severity of a seizure is very variable, if the "storm" of electrical activity spreads throughout the brain it can produce full body shaking and loss of consciousness, often known as a "grand mal" or "generalized tonic-clonic" seizure. When the abnormal electrical activity is confined to a specific area, it can produce more specific symptoms, such as staring or smacking the lips. Individuals do not necessarily lose consciousness during these types of seizures, although it is possible that their memory of the event may be distorted. Epilepsy is the name for malformations in the brain which cause individuals to have multiple seizures. Epilepsy should only be diagnosed by a trained neurologist after other causes of seizures (and other non-seizure causes of similar symptoms) have been ruled-out. If you suspect your brother has had a seizure, I suggest you urge him to seek an in-person consultation with a neurologist who can listen to the story and perform the necessary tests to establish a diagnosis.

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