Ojemann, Jeffrey Department of Neurosurgery, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington.
Last reviewed:August 2019
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- Types of seizures
- Special considerations
- Unremitting seizures
- Related Primary Literature
- Additional Reading
A condition characterized by the paroxysmal recurrence of transient, uncontrollable episodes of abnormal neurological or mental function (or both). Epilepsy refers to the medical condition of recurrent, unprovoked seizures. In general, epilepsy and seizures constitute some of the most common neurologic disorders. Up to 10% of the population will experience a seizure at some point in their life, with most individuals not being diagnosed with epilepsy. A seizure is a sudden change in behavior accompanied by an abnormal discharge of electricity in the brain. A seizure is typically brief and can present in many different ways, including motor changes, sensory phenomena, and alterations in consciousness. Seizures are a symptom of a neurological problem; thus, just as with a symptom such as headache, there are many reasons why a seizure may occur. High fever, meningitis, toxins, chemical imbalances of glucose or electrolytes, stimulant overdose, massive sleep deprivation, and alcoholic withdrawal are all examples of external events that can provoke a seizure. However, at least two unprovoked seizures are required for a diagnosis of epilepsy. Infants, adolescents, and adults older than 60 years of age have the highest onset of epilepsy (Fig. 1). See also: Consciousness; Motor systems; Nervous system (vertebrate); Nervous system disorders; Neurobiology; Seizure disorders
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