Over 50 million people worldwide have epilepsy yet there is still a lot of confusion about the neurological disorder. A popular misunderstanding is that you can only have seizures – temporary abnormal movements such as stiffness, twitching, or limpness – if you have epilepsy.

Dr. Ikram Khan, a neurologist at Aurora Health Care, helps set the record straight.

“Epilepsy is a neurological disease resulting in seizure episodes caused by electrical discharges in brain cells. This can result from a stroke, head trauma, tumor, or a family history of the condition,” he explains.

Many people with epilepsy can take medications to successfully stop the seizures.

But just because you had one seizure doesn’t mean you have epilepsy.

“A seizure can occur as a symptom of a health condition such as a metabolic problem like low magnesium or a side effect of a medication,” explains Dr. Khan. “Unlike epilepsy, treating the health condition causing the seizures will cause the seizures to subside.”

How is epilepsy diagnosed?

If you experience a seizure, it’s important to visit a neurologist who will provide both diagnosis and treatment options. According to Dr. Khan, your neurologist will first look at clinical evidence such as your medical history, symptoms and the findings of your physical examination. Then, you will have an EEG and MRI of the brain.

Based on the imaging and clinical evidence, your neurologist will determine your diagnosis. If the tests rule out epilepsy, your neurologist will run more tests to detect health conditions that could have caused the seizure if you don’t have epilepsy.

How can you help someone having a seizure?

Dr. Khan says the most important thing you can do is put the person in a safe position. This includes making sure they are on the ground and on their left or right side – this will help keep their airway open. Continuously check that the person is breathing, and if they are not or the seizure lasts longer than 5 minutes, call 911 immediately.

 

Source: ahchealthenews.com, Anna Kohler

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