Epilepsy is a long-term brain condition that causes the person to have repeated seizures.
Having one seizure is not considered to be epilepsy. People who have one seizure can go on to never have another seizure, and the reason for the first will remain a mystery.
Epilepsy is not a stand-alone condition. A range of conditions can cause seizures, and a First Aid Responder has no way of knowing what specific Seizure type is occurring.
A seizure will typically last from one to three minutes. If someone has a seizure that lasts for more than five minutes, call an ambulance on triple zero (000).
The visible symptom of epilepsy is seizures. These are episodes of changed electrical activity in the brain and can vary depending on the region or regions of the brain undergoing the short circuit.
Epilepsy can cause symptoms like loss of consciousness, convulsions, and other unusual feelings, sensations, and behaviours.
Epilepsy Can Be Caused By Anything That Damages The Brain.
- Head injury or brain damage trauma
- Chronic alcohol or drug use
- Stroke or bleeding of the brain
- Brain infection or inflammation, meningitis, and encephalitis
- Imbalanced blood sugar levels and other biochemical imbalances
- Seizures may not develop for years after the initial damage to the brain occurs
- Brain malformations or tumours
- Alzheimer’s disease and other related brain deterioration conditions
See A Doctor For An Epilepsy Diagnosis, If:
- You experience your first seizure
- You have repeated seizures
- Your seizures increase in frequency
- You are not sure if you had a seizure but woke disorientated on the ground and cannot explain why you were unconscious
- You should seek medical attention after a seizure if you are injured
- If you are pregnant or have diabetes.
How Is Epilepsy Diagnosed
A diagnosis of epilepsy is based on your history of seizures and the results of your MRI scan. Your doctor will ask you a range of questions to establish what you can remember, any symptoms you may have had before the seizures began, and any other warning signs or strange sensations you might have noticed but not understood at the time.
Your doctor may also order blood tests, an EEG (electroencephalogram) and brain scans, including a CT scan or an MRI, to rule out all other possibilities.
If your child or someone you know has a seizure, recording it on your mobile phone can be helpful as this can help the treating doctor make a more accurate diagnosis.
How Is Epilepsy Treated
The majority of people with epilepsy control their seizures with antiepileptic medicines and by avoiding known triggers. The type of medicine depends on your age and what type of seizures you are having. Antiepileptic medications require frequent blood tests to maintain the correct medicine levels in the bloodstream.
Working with your doctor to get the best control over your seizures is important, especially if you are planning on becoming pregnant.
Ask your doctor if it is safe for you to drive or do other high-risk activities like operating heavy machinery. Depending on the type of epilepsy, most people can return to driving after being seizure-free for six months.
Is Epilepsy Preventable
The short answer is no. You can help reduce and control epilepsy seizures by taking your medication and avoiding known triggers. Triggers often include but are not limited to the following.
- Incorrect antiepileptic medication dosage
- Not taking antiepileptic medication
- Lack of sleep
- Flashing lights
- Missing meals or fasting practices
- Physical and emotional stress
- Hormonal changes due to menstruation
- Alcohol or drug use
- Having an infection
- Vomiting, diarrhoea, or constipation
- Severe changes in temperature
Resources And Support For Further Reading On Epilepsy
The National Epilepsy Line is an Australian telephone (1300 37 45 37) and email (email@example.com) service you can use to talk with a registered nurse with special training in epilepsy management. The nurse will help answer your questions and can refer you to other services for more help.
You can find more epilepsy information on these websites: