Epilepsy - A Guide to Symptoms, Support & Info

Be in the know when you or someone you care for is suffering from epileptic seizures.

If you or a loved one have been recently diagnosed with epilepsy, the internet can be overwhelming with an overload of data and details about the condition, including suggestions on safety prevention measures such as a protective helmet like Ribcap.

To help filter some of the key information that you’ll need to know, here is a guide to finding communities, useful links, support and general information about Epilepsy.

Contents

  1. How a Seizure Occurs
  2. Common Seizure Types & Symptoms
  3. Stages of a Seizure
  4. Common Health Conditions & Syndromes
  5. How to Find Support
  6. How to be the Support

 

  1. How a Seizure Occurs

To understand a seizure, first you’ll need to understand the basic principle that neurons handle and transmit information back and forth between our brain and body. Two neurons in particular are called Excitatory and Inhibitory neurons. When balanced, a person will lead a very normal life.

However, a person who has an epileptic condition is due to an imbalance of these neurons. For example, some types of seizures are a result of a reduction in the Inhibitory neuron which then over stimulates the Excitatory neurons that often results in seizure activity.

 

  1. Common Seizure Types & Symptoms

There are two types of seizures, generalized and focal. Generalized means the whole body can be affected whereas a focal seizure usually affects a particular area.

Each of the types below are the most common however it is known that some will experience more than one type of seizure:

Generalized Seizure Types

Tonic-Clonic Seizure (Also known as Grand Mal)

-The person loses consciousness right from the beginning of the seizure.

-This seizure lasts between 2-3minutes and up to 5 minutes. Over 5 minutes is considered an emergency and requires immediate medical help.

-The person enters the Tonic stage which stiffens the body which may make the person, wince, cry or make noises due to muscle contraction.

-Next, they enter the Clonic stage which creates muscle spasms on both or one side of the body. Saliva may froth in the person's mouth and breathing may be affected.

 

Tonic Seizures

-The rarest of the seizure types.

-The person may have impaired consciousness during the seizure.

-This type of seizure usually develops in childhood but can happen at any age.

-The person enters only the tonic stage which stiffens the body and can create muscle spasms.

-After a Tonic seizure, the person is left feeling confused.

 

Clonic Seizures

-The person may lose consciousness during seizure activity.

-The person enters only the clonic stage which creates muscle spasms which may affect their bodily functions causing incontinence.

-After a Clonic seizure, the person is left feeling confused.

 

Atonic Seizures (Also known as drop attacks)

-This kind is the most dangerous as the person has a high risk of head trauma.

-The person may not remember the seizure after regaining consciousness.

-The person loses all muscle tone making the person limp, leading them to collapse suddenly.

-Atonic seizures have very few warning signs with the person dropping within seconds.

For more information on Head Trauma & Protective Helmets click here

 

Absence Seizures (Also known as Petit Mal)

-The person doesn’t remember this type of seizure.

-This type of seizure is very short, almost a few seconds to a minute.

-The person appears to be ‘zoned out’ as they have a brief loss of consciousness.

-The person cannot be brought to consciousness by waving, shaking, shouting, etc.

-This type of seizure can happen several times in a day.

-The person behaves normally as soon as they are conscious.

 

Myoclonic Seizures

-The person doesn’t remember this type of seizure.

-This type of seizure may result in jerking or for a person to suddenly fling out an arm or leg.

-They can happen in a single event or in a series.

-This person may run the risk of falling as they lose control of their muscles.

 

Focal Seizure Types

Focal onset aware (Simple Partial)

-The seizure only takes place in one area such as jerking in one area, reduced eyesight, reduced hearing or hearing the sound of buzzing.

-The person is fully present when it takes place.

-This type of seizure can evolve and turn into a Complex Partial seizure.

 

Focal impaired awareness (Complex Partial)

-The person may be in and out of consciousness

-They may not be able to answer questions or appear to be ‘zoned out’.

-They may appear dazed or confused.

-They may complete actions such as biting lips, clapping, rubbing, walking aimlessly, mumbling, etc.

-The seizure usually lasts around 3-4 minutes.

 

  1. Stages of a Seizure

As with all seizures, each person and seizure type will experience different stages of a seizure. Some experience all four stages whereas some experience only one. To understand the four stages, here is an overview and a link to further information.

Prodromal (A stage that isn’t experienced by many) - Symptoms that appear days before a seizure. Symptoms to look for are depression, anger, poor sleep, anxiety, GI or Urinary issues.

Aura - Happens minutes to seconds before a seizure. The most common warning signs are altered vision, loss of hearing, anxiety, dread, deja vu, weird taste or smell, inability to speak and dizziness.

Ictus - (The seizure) Lasting between 1-3 minutes. Over 5 minutes or back to back seizures is considered dangerous and the person should seek medical help immediately.

Postictal (or Post Ictus) - (After the seizure) For some, the person may feel completely normal while others feel extremely tired, sleepy or confused. They may have suffered an injury such as a bitten tongue or cheek and may have injured a body part.

For more info about the main stages of a seizure, click here

https://epilepsytalk.com/2016/01/18/the-four-stages-of-seizures-prodromal-auras-ictal-and-postictal/

 

  1. Common Health Conditions & Syndromes

Seizures come in many different shapes and sizes. They can occur occasionally when a person suffers from CNS infection, hypoglycemia, ETOH (alcohol withdrawal), acid-base imbalance, hypoxia or a brain tumor.

For others who suffer from epileptic seizure activity due to a chronic condition may have mild to severe seizures on a daily/weekly basis. Each condition may affect different parts of the body or may lead to different types of seizures, and so, the following links will help to guide you to more information about the following conditions, including further support.

Doose Syndrome - http://doosesyndrome.org/

Dravet Syndrome - https://www.dravetfoundation.org/what-is-dravet-syndrome/

Landau-Kleffner Syndrome - https://www.epilepsy.com/learn/types-epilepsy-syndromes/landau-kleffner-syndrome

Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome - https://www.webmd.com/epilepsy/lennox-gastaut#1

Ohtahara Syndrome - https://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/all-disorders/ohtahara-syndrome-information-page

Panayiotopoulos Syndrome - https://www.epilepsydiagnosis.org/syndrome/panayiotopoulos-overview.html

Frontal Lobe Epilepsy - https://www.epilepsy.com/learn/types-epilepsy-syndromes/frontal-lobe-epilepsy

 

  1. Where to Find Support?

Support from the community

Community is key for both you and the person suffering from the seizures. The feeling that you are not alone can help to comfort and control seizures as you learn more about other families who may have been dealing with seizures for a prolonged period of time.

To connect with people, check out the following link to either share your story or speak to those who are also in the same shoes. You’ll find lots of forum topics including support from other individuals including parents and carers going through the same situation.

https://www.epilepsy.com/forum-topics

  1. How to be the Support?

If you are a carer of a person with seizures, a family member or close one, you can learn what to look out for, why a seizure is happening, and also what you can do to support the individual. This will give both you and the person confidence that they are not alone.

Protective Support

To save yourself the worry of a potentially fatal injury, we suggest discussing your protective headgear options. A reminder that just one fall can be fatal. Luckily with Ribcap protective headgear doesn't have to look like a piece of safety equipment, instead, they look just like regular hats and can be worn all day everyday!

For more information about your options for fashionable protective headgear, click the link below!

To view our guide on ‘How to Choose the Best Protective Helmet’ click here.