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What is Epilepsy?

Updated: Jan 23


Epilepsy affects millions of people across the world, this includes people living with the condition and those who support or care for them. It is a common condition that causes frequent seizures and can affect anyone.


In this article, we will outline what epilepsy is, the main differences between different types of epilepsy and seizures, and the signs and symptoms of a seizure.


What is Epilepsy?

Epilepsy is a condition that affects the brain and can cause seizures. Seizures are a sudden, uncontrolled electrical disturbances in the brain that can result in symptoms such as loss of consciousness, breathing problems or jerking movements of the arms and legs.


Epilepsy is a lifelong condition that can effects anyone no matter their age but with medication, epilepsy symptoms can be reduced, and occasionally the condition can get better over time.


There are four different types of epilepsy, these include:


  1. Focal epilepsy – these seizures begin on one side of the brain.

  2. Generalized epilepsy – these seizures begin on both sides of the brain.

  3. Combined general and focal epilepsy – this type of epilepsy include both focal and generalized seizures.

  4. Unknown if generalized or focal epilepsy – it is not always possible to determine the cause of these types of seizures.

What is the Difference Between Epilepsy and Seizures?


A seizure is a sudden, uncontrolled electrical disturbance in the brain that can cause uncontrollable spasms in muscles and levels of consciousness. Seizures affect people in different ways depending on which part of the brain is involved.


Seizures can have many causes such as high blood sugar or a fever. If an individual has two or more seizures, in the space of 24 hours, it is considered to be epilepsy.


Many people can have a seizure without having epilepsy. As mentioned above, seizures can be triggered by different things and are not always caused by epilepsy. However, you can’t have epilepsy without experiencing seizures.


Another important differentiation is between the causes of epilepsy and triggers of seizures.


Some causes of epilepsy include:

  • A brain infection.

  • Genetics.

  • A lack of oxygen during birth.

  • Drug or alcohol misuse.

  • A brain or head injury.

  • Alzheimer’s disease.

Some triggers of seizures include:

  • Missing medication.

  • A fever.

  • A lack of sleep.

  • Flashing and flickering lights.

  • Stress.

  • Alcohol and recreational drugs.

Signs and Symptoms of Epileptic Seizures

The signs and symptoms that someone is having a seizure will differ depending on which type of seizure they are having, not all seizures involve unusual body movements or shaking and some seizures are only seconds long.


Some signs and symptoms that may indicate that someone is having an epileptic seizure, are:

  • Rapid blinking.

  • Appearing confused or in a daze.

  • Breathing difficulties.

  • A loss of consciousness.

  • Losing muscle tone or dropping to the floor.

  • Uncontrollable body movements, shaking or jerking.

  • Changes in hearing, vision, taste, smell and feelings.

  • Struggling to talk.

  • An increased heart rate.

  • Lip-smacking, chewing motions, or rubbing hands and fingers.




It is crucial that people are aware of the signs and symptoms that someone is having a seizure so they can spot it quickly and help if needed.

Seizures can be very serious, especially if they last for longer than five minutes or the person stops breathing. Seizures can also result in injuries such as bruises, scratches and head injuries, therefore it is useful to know how you can support someone with epilepsy when they have a seizure.


Looking to Learn More?

Our associate company, Qintil's epilepsy course allows an understanding and management of seizures caused by epilepsy to include the emergency administration of Midazolam. By the end of the course, students will have gained an understanding of what epilepsy exactly is and how it affects the relevant anatomy and physiology of patients. They will have learned the different classes of seizures, the first aid treatment to execute and finally how to safely administer Midazolam. support an individual.


For more of Qintil's course, click here.


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