Epilepsy is a chronic disorder, the hallmark of which is recurrent, unprovoked seizures. A person is diagnosed with epilepsy if they have two unprovoked seizures (or one unprovoked seizure with the likelihood of more) that were not caused by some known and reversible medical condition like alcohol withdrawal or extremely low blood sugar.
The seizures in epilepsy may be related to a brain injury or a family tendency, but often the cause is completely unknown. The word “epilepsy” does not indicate anything about the cause of the person’s seizures or their severity.
Many people with epilepsy have more than one type of seizure and may have other symptoms of neurological problems as well. Sometimes EEG (electroencephalogram) testing, clinical history, family history, and outlook are similar among a group of people with epilepsy. In these situations, their condition can be defined as a specific epilepsy syndrome.
Although the symptoms of a seizure may affect any part of the body, the electrical events that produce the symptoms occur in the brain. The location of that event, how it spreads, how much of the brain is affected, and how long it lasts all have profound effects. These factors determine the character of a seizure and its impact on the individual.
Having seizures and epilepsy can affect one’s safety, relationships, work, driving, and so much more. Public perception and treatment of people with epilepsy are often bigger problems than actual seizures.
Steven Simensky, MD, PhD, of Memorial Healthcare Institute for Neuroscience in Okemos, is board certified in Epilepsy and Neurology and received a fellowship Clinical Neurophysiology from the Children’s Hospital/Ohio State University. Dr. Simensky is accepting new patients with most insurances at our Okemos location and can be reached by contacting (989) 729-4304.