November is National Epilepsy Month. Epilepsy, or seizure disorder occurs over 200,000 times a year in the United States. Simply put, epilepsy is a disorder that overworks the brain. Nerve cell activity in the brain becomes disturbed and causes the person to suffer seizures. Seizures are the only symptom of epilepsy. While there is no cure, treatment can help. Seizures are very unpredictable and can come and go. But symptoms are typically the same every time. Here are a few warning signs of seizures to be aware of so you can talk with a medical professional to know if you have epilepsy:
1. You fall a lot or feel dizzy. That “fuzzy” feeling is what most people experience as a result of epilepsy.
2. Jerks or twitches. Sudden, out of control body jerks or twitches can happen for several years before a person has their first seizure.
3. Unusual experiences. Out of body feelings are very common among people suffering from epilepsy. Also a lot of daydreaming, or just not feeling in the moment.
4. Collapse during exercise. While this may be a sign of a significant heart issue, it can also be a sign of epilepsy. Anyone who has this happen should immediately talk with a doctor.
5. Fainting multiple times. For most people, epilepsy starts without them realizing the warning signs. If you have fainted it may seem similar to something else, like being dizzy for a moment, then it passes. However it may be a sign of something more serious if it happens more than once.
6. Being confused. Feeling confused, sleepy or weak during the day may be a sign of a partial seizure.
7. Febrile convulsions. Many children experience quick rises in body temperature. It is not epilepsy, however a child that has these early in life has a higher risk of epilepsy as he/she matures.
8. Loss of bodily functions. Inability to control your bladder, or sudden loss of stool control can be a sign of epilepsy.
9. Memory lapses. Loss of memory or forgetting certain aspects of the day are both common problems people with epilepsy experience.
10. The body acts with sudden problems. Typically people who have seizures feeling a tingling, numbness or a feeling like a jolt of electricity is running through their body.
11. Children suffer from stiff muscles. Children showing early signs of epilepsy experience tight, stiffening of muscles all over the body, typically at night.
12. Smacking of lips. The most common form of epilepsy in adults is temporal lobe, which causes smacking of the lips. Additional symptoms include rubbing hands together, hallucinations of sound, smells or tastes, and emotional disturbances.
Like with any other medical condition, seizures and epilepsy have different types. If you have suffered any of these symptoms and are worried, seek medical advice. The only way to be sure is to be tested. Epilepsy can only be diagnosed by a medical professional. For more on National Epilepsy Month visit the Epilepsy Foundation.
By: Ron Schaberg
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