Not all seizures are characterized by convulsions. Convulsions involve uncontrollable shaking, but if you have a seizure you can simply feel confused without a physical reaction. You might easily appear to be staring at something that isn’t there.
In other words, all convulsions are seizures but not all seizures are convulsions.
What is a seizure?
Your brain is made of billions of neurons. These nerve cells process and share all of the information required for your body to function and your mind to think by discharging electrical currents. Usually, these interactions occur without any issues.
A few neurons can fire out of sequence without seriously affecting you. When many neurons fire out of sequence at the same time, this produces a disorganized electrical discharge that can short-circuit your brain activity. This discharge spreads through a part of your brain, and a seizure is the result. Seizures can affect your motor skills, speech patterns, and even your basic bodily functions. This can result in convulsions, as well as other symptoms.
Symptoms of seizure
You may experience the following symptoms when you have a seizure:
- Uncontrolled convulsions
- Rapid eye movements or staring
- Sudden falling
- Stiffening of the body
- Uncontrolled convulsions
- Loss of bladder or bowel control
- Temporary stop in breathing
- Entire body shaking
- Mood changes
These symptoms typically stop after a short period of no longer than 15 minutes.
There are usually early warning signs just prior to an attack. These may include:
Causes of seizure
Seizures are most common in children and young adults. They can occur at any age. If someone who is older has a seizure, it is quite often due to a family history and/or genetic disorder.
Common causes of seizure include:
- Drug abuse
- High fever
- Head injury
- Heart disease
- Toxemia of pregnancy
- Very high blood pressure
- Brain infection
- Brain tumor
Sometimes the cause of a seizure will never be found.
Only a licensed healthcare professional can diagnose the type of seizure you have experienced and its root cause.
Before providing you with medication, your doctor will need to identify the type of seizure that you are experiencing. These are classified into one of two categories:
- Generalized seizures, which involve the whole brain
- Focal seizures, which take place in a specific part of the brain
Your doctor will likely conduct a number of physical examinations, especially if you have experienced any dangerous convulsions as part of your symptoms.
They will probably review your medical and family history. Your doctor may also send you for magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or computerized tomography (CT) scans in order to evaluate your brain activity.
Treatment of seizures
The treatment of seizures usually involves trying to control, stop, or reduce the frequency of the occurrence of seizures.
If you experience regular seizures, your doctor will probably prescribe you some type of medication to treat the underlying cause. There are a large number of types of medicine used to treat seizures and convulsions because there are so many different types of seizures.
Your medication and treatment plan is then selected based on the type of seizure, your age, any potential side effects, and the ease of use.
Most medicines that are used at home are oral capsules, syrup, and tablets. If you are hospitalized, your medication may be given by injection or intravenously.
If you have a family member, friend, or relative who experiences a seizure that involves convulsions or other physical symptoms, here are the recommended steps to take:
- Be calm. Watching a seizure can be frightening, especially for people seeing convulsions for the first time.
- Remove the person from an environment that can harm them. Place a pillow or a cloth under the person’s head.
- Ensure that the person is not facing down to prevent suffocation.
- Do not stop the person’s movement or hold them down.
- Let the person face one side if possible.
You should seek emergency medical attention if the person:
- Falls and hits their head during the seizure
- Remains unconscious for more than 5 minutes
- Has a heart condition
- Has a repeated or ongoing seizure lasting for more than 5 minutes
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: "Epilepsy and Seizures."
Healthychildren.org: "Seizures and Epilepsy in Children."
Johns Hopkins Medicine: "Epilepsy and Seizures: Conditions We Treat."
Johns Hopkins Medicine: "Evaluation of a First-Time Seizure."
Mayo Clinic: "Seizures."
The Nurse Practitioner: "Guide to Care for Patients: Managing Seizures."
Top Difference Between a Seizure and a Convulsion Related Articles
Can the Vagus Nerve Cause Seizures?The vagus nerve is an important pathway to the brain in addition to helping to control seizures. Stimulation of the vagus nerve leads to the discharge of electrical energy into a wide area of the brain, disturbing the abnormal brain activity that causes seizures. The vagus nerve is used to treat seizures that do not respond to medications.
Carnexiv (carbamazepine) InjectionCarnexiv (carbamazepine) injection is an anticonvulsant indicated as replacement therapy for oral carbamazepine formulations, when oral administration is temporarily not feasible, in partial seizures with complex symptomatology, generalized tonic-clonic seizures, mixed seizure patterns which include the above, or other partial or generalized seizures. Common side effects of Carnexiv include dizziness, drowsiness, blurred vision, double vision, headache, infusion-related reaction, infusion site pain, and anemia.
Seizures QuizDo you know the difference between seizures and epilepsy? What are the types of seizures? Take the Epilepsy & Seizures Quiz to test your knowledge and learn about this complex disorder of the brain.
Epilepsy and Seizures: How to Treat?A seizure is a sudden, uncontrolled electrical disturbance in the brain. Epilepsy is a neurological disorder where brain activities are abnormal, causing more than one or recurrent episodes of seizures. Most cases of seizures can be managed conservatively with medication and supportive treatments.
Febrile SeizuresFebrile seizures, or convulsions caused by fever, can be frightening in small children or infants. However, in general, febrile seizures are harmless. Febrile seizure is not epilepsy. It is estimated that one in every 25 children will have at least one febrile seizure. It is important to know what to do to help your child if he/she has a febrile seizure. Some of the features of a febrile seizure include losing consciousness, shaking, moving limbs on both sides of the body, and lasts 1-2 minutes. Less commonly, a febrile seizure may only affect one side of the body.
What Is the First Aid for Seizures?Some seizures are caused by brain diseases, tumors, genetic conditions, or other illnesses or disorders that can be diagnosed (symptomatic seizures). When the cause for the seizures is unknown, they are referred to as idiopathic or cryptogenic seizures. If a person has a seizure, loosen the clothing around his/her neck and remove sharp objects around the person to prevent injury. After the seizure, lay the person on his/her side to maintain an open airway. If the seizure lasts more than five minutes or if the person cannot be awakened after the seizure, call 911. Learn common seizure triggers, including foods or medications, hormones, stress, lack of sleep, dehydration, or sensitivity to light.
How Do You Stop Multiple Seizures?Seizures are a medical emergency. Whether the seizure is a first-time onset or a recurring episode, it is advisable to dial 911 and call for help. A group of drugs called benzodiazepines is usually administered to stop multiple seizures.
Migraines and Seizures (Symptoms, Auras, Medication)Migraines are a type of headache and seizures are the main symptom of epilepsy. Migraine headaches and seizures are two different neurological problems that have similar signs, symptoms, and auras, for example, sensitivity to light (photophobia) and sound, irritability, nausea, and vomiting.
Symptoms unique to migraine and migraine auras are water retention, problems sleeping, appetite changes, and talkativeness. Symptoms unique to seizure and seizures auras are depression, a feeling of heaviness, a feeling that a seizure is approaching, and depression.
Many of the symptoms of migraine and seizures are the same, however, seizures do not cause migraines; however, people who have seizures are twice as likely to have migraines and vice-versa. People who have migraines are twice as likely to have seizures, and people with seizures are twice as likely to have migraines; however, one condition does not cause the other.
Seizalam (midazolam) InjectionSeizalam (midazolam) Injection is a benzodiazepine used to treat status epilepticus in adults. Concomitant use of benzodiazepines and opioids may result in profound sedation, respiratory depression, coma, and death. Side effects of Seizalam include upper airway obstruction, agitation, fever, and decreased tidal volume and/or decreased respiratory rate.
Seizure (Epilepsy)Epilepsy is a brain disorder in which the person has seizures. There are two kinds of seizures, focal and generalized. There are many causes of epilepsy. Treatment of epilepsy (seizures) depends upon the cause and type of seizures experienced.
Seizure vs. Seizure Disorders: What's the Difference?Seizures and seizure disorders are not the same medical problems. A seizure happens when the electrical activity in the brain is uncontrolled. There are about 40 different types of seizure disorders, in which epilepsy is one. Symptoms depend on the type of disorder, but can include loss of consciousness, uncontrolled twitching or shaking of one side, or the entire body.
Seizures Symptoms and TypesSeizures are divided into two categories: generalized and partial. Generalized seizures are produced by electrical impulses from throughout the brain, while partial seizures are produced by electrical impulses in a small part of the brain. Seizure symptoms include unconsciousness, convulsions, and muscle rigidity.
Vagus Nerve Stimulation (VNS) for Seizures
Vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) is a technique used to treat epilepsy. It involves implanting a pacemaker-like device that generates pulses of electricity to stimulate the vagus nerve. The vagus nerve is one of the 12 cranial nerves, the paired nerves that attach to the undersurface of the brain and relay information to and from the brain.
What Are the Different Types of Seizures?A seizure is a sudden change in the brain's normal electrical activity. During a seizure, brain cells fire uncontrollably than their normal rate, temporarily affecting the way a person behaves, moves, thinks, or feels. Recurrent seizures are called epilepsy. Seizures are usually categorized into three types depending on their onset.
What Causes Myoclonic Seizures in Babies?Epileptic syndromes that cause myoclonic seizures usually begin in early childhood, and last throughout life, though milder forms may improve with adulthood. Doose syndrome (myoclonic-atonic epilepsy), Dravet syndrome (severe myoclonic epilepsy of infancy [SMEI]) and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome are all childhood epilepsy syndromes that may cause seizures in babies and toddlers.
What Is a Cluster Seizure?Cluster seizures are episodes of increased seizure activity in which two or more seizures occur in 24 hours. Multiple seizures occur one after the other typically with a recovery period between each seizure and are different from a person’s usual seizure pattern.