There’s no doubt that epilepsy is a serious medical condition, but don’t let it scare you. Millions of people have it, and you certainly are not alone. In fact, roughly 1 in 26 people in the United States develop a form of epilepsy at some point in their life. Just like many other long-term medical conditions, you may gain some control of your partial-onset seizures by using epilepsy medicine and making a strong commitment to your daily health.
Partial-onset seizures (POS) are caused by a problem in the electrical signaling of the brain. Groups of neurons suddenly begin firing excessively, leading to involuntary responses, including strange sensations, emotions, behaviors or convulsions, muscle spasms, and possibly loss of consciousness. Not everyone will experience all symptoms of partial onset seizures.
Partial-onset seizure symptoms may include:
Epilepsy is the term used to describe when you have recurring seizures. If you’ve experienced recurring seizures (2 or more) at least 24 hours apart and all other possible seizure causes have been ruled out—such as alcohol withdrawal, extremely low blood sugar, or other medical conditions—you may have epilepsy.
Epilepsy is caused by irregular brain activity and can develop at any age. Some people are born with a defect in the structure of their brain. Others have had a head injury, tumor, stroke, or an infection causing epilepsy. An epileptic seizure might not occur until years after the injury, but in all cases, a seizure is the common symptom.
To understand epilepsy better, let’s take a look at what’s happening inside the brain.
Learn more about different types of seizures
Because there are different types of seizures, the first step is to have your physician identify which type you have. Primary generalized seizures occur within both sides of the brain and are often a result of hereditary factors. On the other hand, partial-onset seizures occur in a specific area of the brain and can affect functions like hearing, taste, touch, sight, and smell. There are 2 kinds of partial-onset seizures: simple and complex.
They vary from strong feelings of déjà vu to physical changes in the body such as fast heart rate, upset stomach, or spinning sensation. Simple partial-onset seizures are different for everyone but usually last 2 minutes or less and the person remains conscious.
Often, these begin as simple seizures in a part of the brain known as the temporal or frontal lobe. Complex partial-onset seizures may also affect consciousness. Sometimes the symptoms are subtle and the person appears to be daydreaming. Other times, the person can do embarrassing or even dangerous things such as walking into traffic.
Whichever kind of seizures you’re experiencing, they may take an emotional toll. You may feel alone or self-conscious. They may affect your relationships. But most of all, you live with a feeling of uncertainty, not knowing when the next seizure may occur.
The good news is there are things you can do that may help you live your life as fully as possible with epilepsy.