Saturday, March 05, 2005

Seizures & Epilepsy

found this on the web

Seizures are symptoms of abnormal brain function. With the exception of very young children and the elderly, the cause of the abnormal brain function is usually not identifiable.

However, when seizures start, the physician will try to identify an underlying etiology (cause). This is because the most specific diagnosis as to why seizures are occurring depends on finding a cause, and the best therapy will be one specific to the etiology.

If a specific diagnosis of cause cannot be made, then the epilepsy will be described according to seizure type or epileptic syndrome.

In about seven out of ten people with epilepsy, no cause can be found. Among the rest, the cause may be any one of a number of things that can make a difference in the way the brain works. Head injuries or lack of oxygen during birth may damage the delicate electrical system in the brain. Other causes include brain tumors, genetic conditions (such as tuberous sclerosis), lead poisoning, problems in development of the brain before birth, and infections like meningitis or encephalitis. About 30 percent of the 180,000 new epilepsy cases every year begin in childhood, particularly in early childhood and around the time of adolescence. Another period of relatively high incidence is in people over the age of 65.

Potential Causes of Epilepsy in:

  • Brain malformations
  • Lack of oxygen during birth
  • Low levels of blood sugar, blood calcium, blood magnesium or other electrolyte disturbances
  • Inborn errors of metabolism
  • Intracranial hemorrhage
  • Maternal drug use
  • Infection

Infants and Children

  • Fever (febrile seizures)
  • Brain tumor (rarely)
  • Infections

Children and Adults

  • Congenital conditions (Down’s syndrome; Angelman’s syndrome; tuberous sclerosis and neurofibromatosis)
  • Genetic factors
  • Progressive brain disease (rare)
  • Head trauma


  • Stroke
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Trauma