Seizing the Moment
This article will explore ten signs and triggers of seizures, delve into what a seizure is and what can cause one. We will also discuss treatment options, including FINTEPLA which is a prescription medicine used to treat seizures associated with Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome. Dravet syndrome (DS) is a severe form of epilepsy characterized by frequent, prolonged seizures often triggered by high body temperature.
10 Signs and Triggers of Seizures
Seizures are sudden and unpredictable electrical disturbances in the brain that can lead to a wide range of symptoms and behaviors. Here are common signs and triggers of seizures.
- Aura: Seizures can begin with an aura, a peculiar sensation that serves as a warning sign. It might include strange smells, tastes or a sense of déjà vu.
- Loss of Consciousness: Many seizures involve a sudden loss of consciousness, where the affected person may fall to the ground.
- Muscle Contractions: Convulsive seizures often manifest with muscle contractions, causing the body to jerk or shake uncontrollably.
- Staring Spells: Absence seizures involve staring spells and a brief loss of awareness.
- Confusion: Postictal (the period after a seizure) confusion is a common sign, as individuals may be disoriented and have no memory of the seizure.
- Tonic-Clonic Movements: Tonic-clonic seizures are characterized by stiffening (tonic phase) followed by rhythmic jerking (clonic phase).
- Involuntary Movements: Focal seizures may result in involuntary movements in specific body parts.
- Lip Smacking or Chewing: Automatisms like lip smacking or chewing can occur during some seizures.
- Emotional Changes: Seizures may cause sudden and unexplained emotional changes, such as intense fear or joy.
- Sensory Disturbances: Some seizures can trigger sensory disturbances, such as tingling, numbness or visual hallucinations.
What is a Seizure and What Causes Them?
A seizure is a sudden, abnormal electrical activity in the brain that disrupts normal brain function. This abnormal activity can manifest in various ways and can be caused by several factors.
Epilepsy: Epilepsy is a neurological disorder characterized by recurrent seizures. It can be caused by genetic factors, brain injuries, infections or developmental issues.
Fevers: High fevers, especially in children, can trigger febrile seizures.
Brain Injuries: Traumatic brain injuries resulting from accidents or falls can lead to seizures.
Infections: Infections such as meningitis or encephalitis can cause seizures.
Metabolic Disorders: Some metabolic disorders, like low blood sugar, can trigger seizures.
Alcohol or Drug Withdrawal: Withdrawal from alcohol or certain drugs can lead to seizures.
Stroke: Strokes can disrupt brain function and result in seizures.
Tumors: Brain tumors, benign or malignant, can exert pressure on the brain, leading to seizures.
Dravet Syndrome and Seizures
Dravet Syndrome (DS), also known as Severe Myoclonic Epilepsy of Infancy (SMEI), is a rare and severe form of epilepsy that typically begins in infancy. It is often caused by a genetic mutation and is characterized by frequent and prolonged seizures. Children with DS can experience a range of seizures, including tonic-clonic, myoclonic and absence seizures.
The signs and triggers of seizures in Dravet Syndrome are similar to those in other forms of epilepsy, but the condition is often resistant to many traditional seizure medications. This makes managing Dravet Syndrome particularly challenging for both patients and caregivers.
Treatment Options for Seizures
The treatment of seizures depends on their underlying cause and severity. Here are some common treatment options.
Antiseizure Medications: These medications are the first line of treatment for epilepsy and other seizure disorders. They work by stabilizing electrical activity in the brain.
Ketogenic Diet: A high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet can help control seizures in some cases, particularly in children with epilepsy.
Vagus Nerve Stimulation (VNS): VNS is a surgical procedure in which a device is implanted under the skin to stimulate the vagus nerve, helping to reduce seizure frequency.
Responsive Neurostimulation (RNS): This implantable device monitors brain activity and delivers electrical stimulation to prevent seizures when abnormal activity is detected.
Epilepsy Surgery: In cases where seizures are resistant to other treatments and originate from a specific area in the brain, surgery may be an option to remove or disconnect the affected region.
FINTEPLA: FINTEPLA (fenfluramine) is a medication specifically indicated for the treatment of seizures associated with Dravet Syndrome. It acts on serotonin receptors in the brain, helping to reduce the frequency and severity of seizures in individuals with this condition.
Seizures are complex neurological events that can be triggered by various factors and manifest in different ways. Understanding the signs and triggers of seizures is crucial for early recognition and intervention. It's important for anyone experiencing seizures or caring for someone with epilepsy to seek medical guidance to determine the most appropriate treatment plan. With ongoing research and advances in the field of neurology, the future holds promise for better seizure management and improved outcomes for individuals living with these conditions.