Epilepsy and seizure symptoms can be very similar, making it challenging to differentiate between the two conditions. These conditions are connected, but they are not the same. Proper diagnosis of whether you have seizures or epilepsy is vital for getting appropriate treatment.
What are the Symptoms of a Seizure?
A seizure is a sudden and uncontrolled change in behavior, feeling, or movement after an episode of electrical disturbance in the brain. Seizure symptoms can range from mild to severe. These include:
- Blank staring
- Temporary confusion
- Jerking of the legs and arms
- Sudden mood changes
- Loss of awareness or consciousness
The type of seizures can cause symptoms to vary. To recognize and assess seizure symptoms properly, we must understand the two major types of seizures: focal and generalized.
This type of seizure is a result of an electrical disturbance in one part of the brain. People sometimes confuse its symptoms with other disorders, such as narcolepsy, migraine, or mental illness. Focal seizures may or may not involve loss of consciousness.
Focal seizures that cause a loss or change of consciousness can make you seem awake. However, it will make you stare or respond abnormally to your environment. It also involves repetitive movements, such as walking around in circles, repeating certain words, hand rubbing, and mouth movements. You may not remember the seizure or even be aware that it happened.
Meanwhile, there are focal seizures that do not involve a loss of consciousness. Instead, these seizures can change your emotions. You might feel sudden anger, sadness, or joy. Some patients experience nausea. These seizures also change how things smell, look, taste, sound, or feel.
When you experience a focal seizure without loss of awareness, you might have difficulty speaking. It also causes spontaneous sensory symptoms and uncontrollable jerking of a body part.
Both parts of the brain are involved in generalized seizures. These can start as focal seizures that later spread to both sides of the brain. There are different variations of generalized seizures. These include:
These are a type of generalized seizures that often occur in children. Its symptoms are staring into space and subtle lip-smacking or eye blinking. This type of seizure can occur up to a hundred times a day.
Atonic seizures are also called drop seizures. This type also affects the muscles and can cause you to collapse suddenly.
These can cause repeated or rhythmic jerking movements of the muscles. Clonic seizures usually occur in the neck, face, and arms.
This type of seizure makes the muscles in the back, legs, and arms stiff. It can result in the person losing consciousness or falling.
There is no loss of consciousness involved in myoclonic seizures. Its symptoms are sudden twitches or jerks of the head, neck, and limbs.
Tonic-clonic seizures can cause your body to shake and stiffen, and lose consciousness. Sometimes, you can also lose control of your bladder and bite your tongue. Its symptoms may last for several minutes.
What Are Epilepsy Symptoms?
Epilepsy is a neurological disorder that is also sometimes called a seizure disorder. It causes seizures or temporarily unusual behaviors and sensations. Sometimes, epilepsy results in loss of awareness, as well.
Epilepsy is one of the most common brain conditions. About 5.1 million Americans have a history of epilepsy. It can happen to anyone, but it is most common in children and older adults. The cause of epilepsy in 2 out of 3 people is unknown. This type of epilepsy is referred to as cryptogenic or idiopathic.
Seizures are typically a symptom of epilepsy. Thus, epilepsy symptoms are similar to those of seizures explained earlier.
Seizure vs. Epilepsy
Experiencing two or more seizures can mean an individual may have epilepsy. Most epileptic patients tend to have the same type of seizure each time, thus showing similar symptoms every episode.
Seizures are the most typical cause of epilepsy, but having a seizure does not always equate to having epilepsy. There are other potential causes of seizures apart from epilepsy.
Doctors use various evaluations to diagnose the cause of seizures and diagnose epilepsy. During an electroencephalogram (EEG), people with epilepsy could show shifts in the pattern of their brain waves even when they’re not having a seizure. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) also helps physicians detect what could lead to seizures through a detailed view of the brain.
Neurologist In Farmington Hills, MI
An accurate diagnosis for the symptoms you have is your best shot for getting the appropriate treatment. Observation of symptoms is critical in helping doctors diagnose you accurately.
Here at Associates in Neurology, we make it a point to offer our patients expert care. We can help diagnose your seizure or epilepsy through an EEG or MRI. Our board-certified specialists can help you get the best course of treatment after your diagnosis.
For inquiries or requests for consultations, you can contact our office at (248) 478-5512. You can also request an appointment online.
We look forward to helping you address your health concerns.