Learn about the anatomy of a seizure, the causes and how to help a person having a seizure.
Some of us have seen them. Some of us have had them. Seizures are scary, plain and simple. And those with epilepsy live with the reality that they may have a seizure in public, furthering the fear and ensuing embarrassment that follows. But, what is a seizure?
Seizures happen for different reasons and neurologists have documented more than 30 different types of seizures.
Here is the low-down on the anatomy of a seizure and what is happening in the brain, as well as other causes of seizures.
Causes of Seizures
Epilepsy is one of many causes of seizures, and just because you have a seizure doesn't mean you are automatically an epileptic. Seizures are the result of rogue electrical activity in the brain, which results in unusual behavior or movements. When looking at how the brain works, it is important to know that the brain is full of thousands of neurons. These cells transmit and process information by playing off of each other. An electroencephalogram, or EEG, can accurately read and access the brain neuron activity.
Most brains operate with neuron interactions in a balanced, yet chaotic but orderly fashion with little interruptions. But occasionally, slight disruptions do happen. These are called neuron misfires and this is where a seizure occurs. Here are causes of seizures in both adults and children:
- Heightening, rapid rise of fever
- Extremely low blood sugar in a diabetic person
- Congenital problems, or those that have been present beginning at birth
- Brain damage from head trauma, brain surgery or stroke
- Prescription or illegal drug withdrawal, or that from alcohol
- Brain tumor or aneurysm
- Infections such as encephalitis or meningitis
- A tapeworm or toxoplasmosis (parasitic infections)
- Unbalanced body water levels, such as electrolytes such as magnesium, calcium or sodium
- Compromised oxygen to the brain
- Altered sleep schedule
- Unbalanced hormones
- Thyroid problems
How to Help a Person Having a Seizure
- If at all possible, keep the person from falling, but rather ease them to the ground.
- Move any furniture or objects the person may hit.
- Position the person on his or her side so that fluid can run out of the mouth. Don't try to hold the person down too strongly.
- Do not put your fingers in the person's mouth. You could get bitten or fracture their jaw.
What to Do After a Seizure
- Check for injuries.
- If unable to turn the person on their side during the seizure, do so now.
- If it appears the person's breathing is labored, this is the time to gently use your finger to clear the mouth of excess saliva or vomit.
- Loosen clothing that may be tight or restrictive.
- Stay with the person until he or she is no longer confused.
We hope this information is helpful, yet are even more hopeful you do not have a seizure or witness someone having one. The best thing to do in any scary health-related situation is to remain calm. If you're calm, the person having a seizure will be less disoriented.