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Epilepsy and Seizures

What is epilepsy?

Epilepsy is a neurological condition involving the brain that makes people more susceptible to having seizures. It is one of the most common disorders of the nervous system and affects people of all ages, races and ethnic background. Almost 3 million Americans live with epilepsy.

When a person has two or more seizures, he or she is considered to have epilepsy. There are many possible causes of epilepsy, including tumors, strokes, and brain damage from illness or injury. In many cases, there may be no detectable cause for epilepsy.

What is a seizure?

The brain is the center that controls and regulates all voluntary and involuntary responses in the body. It consists of nerve cells that normally communicate with each other through electrical activity.

A seizure occurs when part(s) of the brain receives a burst of abnormal electrical signals that temporarily interrupts normal electrical brain function.

What causes a seizure?

A person may experience one or many seizures. While the exact cause of the seizure may not be known, the more common seizures are caused by the following:

in newborns and infants:
  • birth trauma
  • congenital (present at birth) problems
  • fever/infection
  • metabolic or chemical imbalances in the body
in children, adolescents, and adults:

  • alcohol or drugs
  • head trauma
  • infection
  • congenital conditions
  • genetic factors
  • progressive brain disease
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • stroke
  • unknown reasons
Other possible causes of seizures may include the following:
  • brain tumor
  • neurological problems
  • drug withdrawal
  • medications
Treatment of a seizure:

Specific treatment for a seizure will be determined by your physician based on:

  • your age, overall health, and medical history
  • type of the seizure
  • frequency of the seizures
  • your tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies
  • expectations for the course of the condition
  • your opinion or preference