Being diagnosed with epilepsy can be scary. Much of the fear surrounding epilepsy is because of the many common misconceptions that surround this common neurological condition. This brain disorder triggers seizures.
It develops when the electrical signals in your brain misfire, causing a seizure. For most people with epilepsy, an exact cause isn’t known. Other times, the condition begins with a known condition, like stroke, a head injury, an infection, or a tumor.
If you’re one of 3.4 million Americans with epilepsy, it’s important to seek treatment from a medical provider who specializes in the condition. At Modern Migraine MD in Manhattan, NYC, Toms River, New Jersey, Aventura, Florida, and virtually in 13 states, board-certified neurologist Risa Ravitz, MD, and the team offers specialized, comprehensive care and ongoing treatment for people diagnosed with epilepsy.
Take a moment to learn some encouraging facts about epilepsy and how we can help you manage your condition.
Thanks to the media, when people think of seizures they often imagine a person shaking on the ground, jerking or spasming uncontrollably. This type of seizure, called a tonic-clonic or grand mal seizure, is less common and most epileptic seizures look nothing like this.
There are different types of seizures, some of which are so mild that it can be difficult to tell when they’re having a seizure. For example, an absence seizure might only last a few seconds and look like the person is blinking or staring into space.
Other seizures, called focal seizures, take place in one area of the brain and cause partial disruptions. Depending on the area affected, a person might have a change in one of their senses, like tasting something strange, or be unable to respond to questions.
If you have epilepsy, it’s a relief to learn that not all seizures are medical emergencies. If you’ve had a seizure before and your seizure lasts less than five minutes, it’s not a reason to call 911 or head to the emergency room.
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get help. If you or someone you know has a seizure, follow the steps in providing seizure first aid listed below. And let your loved ones know that if your seizure lasts longer than five minutes, it’s time to call 911.
Worried that your friends and family won’t be able to help you if you have a seizure? You can rest easy knowing that giving first aid during a seizure isn’t complicated.
First, remember that not all seizures will involve falling to the floor with muscle spasms or uncontrollable jerking. Most seizures will be mild and will only require someone to stay with you and time your seizure.
In the case of a tonic-clonic (grand mal) seizure, talk to your family and friends about following these steps to provide seizure first aid:
If the seizure lasts longer than five minutes, call 911.
Like migraine headache sufferers, some people with epilepsy notice that they have seizures after exposure to certain triggers. Thanks to the media, many people associate epileptic seizures with flashing lights, but in fact only about 3-5% of people with epilepsy have this reaction.
Other seizure triggers are far more common, including:
Another common trigger is being unwell with an illness, like the cold or the flu, or having a temperature.
At Modern Migraine, your personalized epilepsy treatment plan begins with a comprehensive diagnosis that includes identifying the type of epilepsy and seizures you have. Most of the time, anticonvulsant medication is used to reduce your risk of future seizures.
About two-thirds of people with epilepsy respond well to mediations. If you have drug-resistant epilepsy, depending on your needs, Dr. Ravitz may recommend other therapies, including: