Secondary seizures; Reactive seizures; Seizure - secondary; Seizure - reactive
A seizure is the physical findings or changes in behavior that occur after an episode of abnormal electrical activity in the brain.
It may be hard to tell if someone is having a seizure. Some seizures only cause a person to have staring spells, which may go unnoticed. Specific symptoms of a seizure depend on what part of the brain is involved. They occur suddenly and may include:
Symptoms may stop after a few minutes, or continue for 15 minutes. They rarely continue longer.
Causes of seizures can include:
Sometimes no cause can be identified. This is called idiopathic seizures. They usually are seen in children and young adults but can occur at any age. There may be a family history of epilepsy or seizures.
If seizures repeatedly continue after the underlying problem is treated, the condition is called epilepsy.
Most seizures stop by themselves. However, the patient can be hurt or injured during a seizure. For information on how to help someone who is having a seizure, see: Seizure first aid
Call 911 or your local emergency number if:
Report all seizures to the person's health care provider. The doctor may need to adjust or change the person's medications.
A person who has had a new or severe seizure is usually seen in a hospital emergency room. The health care provider will try to diagnose the type of seizure based on the symptoms.
Tests will be done to rule out other medical conditions that cause seizures or similar symptoms. This may include fainting, transient ischemic attack (TIA) or stroke, panic attacks, migraine headaches, sleep disturbances, and others.
Tests may include:
Further testing is needed if you have:
A single seizure due to an obvious trigger (such as use of a certain drug) is treated by eliminating or avoiding that trigger.
There is no specific way to prevent all seizures. However, the following tips may help control some of them:
You might help lower your risk of seizures if you:
You should not drive if you have uncontrolled seizures. Every U.S. state has a different law detailing which people with a history of seizures are allowed to drive. If you have uncontrolled seizures, you should avoid activities where loss of awareness would cause great danger, such as climbing to high places, biking, and swimming alone.
Duvivier EH, Pollack CV Jr. Seizures. In: Marx JA, ed. Rosen’s Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 7th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2009:chap 100.
Krumholz A, Wiebe S, Gronseth G, et al. Practice parameter: evaluating an apparent unprovoked first seizure in adults (an evidence-based review): report of the Quality Standards Subcommittee of the American Academy of Neurology and the American Epilepsy Society. Neurology. 2007;69(21):1991-2007.
Rubin DH, Kornblau DH, Conway EE Jr, Caplen SM. Neurologic Disorders. In: Marx JA, ed. Rosen’s Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 7th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2009:chap 173.
Walker SP, Permezel M, Berkovic SF. The management of epilepsy in pregnancy. BJOG. 2009 May;116(6):758-67.
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