According to the Epilepsy Foundation, more than three million Americans are affected by epilepsy and more than ten percent of Americans will experience a seizure during their lifetime. Also, more than 200,000 new cases of epilepsy are diagnosed each year. A person is only diagnosed with epilepsy if they have two or more seizures.
Epileptic seizures occur when the brain’s electrical system malfunctions. Also, during a seizure neurons fire faster than normal. They can fire as high as 500 times per second. This surge of energy runs through the brain and can cause the individual to lose consciousness, lose bladder control, shake or convulse, drool or cry out. In people diagnosed with epilepsy, this can happen rarely or hundreds of times per day.
Seizures may last only one or two minutes. However, the confusion after a seizure may last a few minutes longer. If an epileptic seizure is severe, the seizure can cause brain damage.
For those diagnosed with epilepsy, 80 percent of epileptic seizures can be controlled with surgery and medications.
No cause for epilepsy can be found in seven out of ten people. For the remainder of epilepsy patients, there can be a number of factors that cause their seizures. Other factors that can cause damage to the brain and lead to seizure include:
• lack of oxygen at birth
• brain tumors
• head injuries
• genetic conditions (such as tuberous sclerosis)
• Alzheimer's disease
• lead poisoning
• issues in brain development before birth
• meningitis or encephalitis
In the elderly, approximately 32 percent of all cases of newly developed epilepsy appear to be due to cerebrovascular disease. Cerebrovascular disease is any disease which reduces the supply of oxygen to the brain cells. The most common cerebrovascular disease is atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis is where fatty deposits or plaque form and leads to narrowing of the arteries.
One of the most frequent causes of a seizure is failure to take prescribed medication to prevent a seizure. Other common triggers include:
• ingesting substances
• hormone fluctuations
• sleep patterns