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When your brain's electrical system doesn't work properly, a seizure can occur. Usually, your brain cells fire electrical impulses in a particular way. Certain factors can make those electrical impulses fire erratically, essentially resulting in a "short circuit" in your brain that causes a seizure.
Although the exact cause of a seizure can't always be pinpointed, you should always be evaluated by a health care provider the first time you have a seizure. It’s important to know if you have an underlying health condition, such as epilepsy, that needs to be treated to prevent future seizures.
Seizures are classified by type and each has different symptoms. You may have a seizure that lasts for under a minute and causes no lasting effects, or a seizure that lasts for a few minutes and causes symptoms that last for a short time. Or you may have a seizure that lasts much longer and can be a medical emergency.
Seizures are often grouped by the amount of brain tissue that's involved. These are the major types of seizures:
Usually, a first seizure happens before age 25.
Seizures can be a sign of epilepsy, but they can happen for other reasons as well.
Why the brain suddenly misfires and causes a seizure is not usually known, except when it occurs in infants and older adults. Sometimes head injuries, drug use or drug withdrawal, or health conditions such as a tumor, high fever, brain infection, or an abnormal structure in the brain may be responsible for seizures.
Symptoms can vary widely based on the type and severity of the seizure. These are common symptoms:
Your healthcare provider will first make sure that you're getting enough oxygen, that all of your vital signs are normal and healthy, and that there are no signs that the seizure is still happening. The primary goal of the medical evaluation is to figure out if your symptoms were actually caused by a seizure and, if so, why the seizure occurred.
To make a diagnosis, your healthcare provider may do or order:
Your provider will also ask a series of questions to find out if any of these factors may be responsible for the seizure:
A single seizure might not require any treatment if it does not recur. If the cause of the seizure can be found (such as an infection or fever), treating the underlying cause might prevent further seizures.
These are some common treatments that can be used to help prevent further seizures, if needed:
Any time a child or an adult has a seizure, call your healthcare provider immediately for an evaluation. Your health care provider may be able to find a health problem or abnormality that caused the seizure and recommend appropriate treatment.
Tips to help you get the most from a visit to your healthcare provider:
Bayhealth is Southern Delaware’s healthcare leader with hospitals in Dover and in Milford. Bayhealth provides a wide range of medical services, including cardiovascular, cancer, orthopaedics and rehabilitation, pediatrics, respiratory care, sleep care, surgical weight loss and women’s services.