Seizures: Brief Version

What is a seizure?

A seizure happens when nerve signals in the brain are not working right. This can cause unusual feelings and actions. Sometimes muscles will twitch or jerk. You may even lose consciousness.

What is the cause?

A seizure can happen for many reasons. You may have a seizure if you:

  • Hurt your head
  • Had a brain injury at birth
  • Have an infection or tumor in your brain
  • Have a stroke

You might also have a seizure when:

  • You have been abusing drugs.
  • You suddenly stop using a substance you are addicted to, like alcohol, cocaine, or sleeping pills.
  • Your body chemicals are not in balance, like when your blood sugar is too low.

Often it is not known why you started having seizures. If you have several seizures and no cause is found, you may have a condition called epilepsy.

What are the symptoms?

Here are some of the symptoms of a seizure:

  • You may just keep staring.
  • A part of your body may twitch, shake, or jerk.
  • You may feel, hear, see or even taste things that are not really there.
  • You may lose consciousness and fall down.
  • You may be confused.

How is it treated?

Your healthcare provider will try to find and treat a cause for the seizures. Your provider may give you medicine to help stop the seizures. Talk to your provider about your medicine and how long you will have to take it.

Your friends and family should know first aid for seizures and CPR. When you have a seizure, they should:

  • Move things away from you that could hurt you, like furniture with sharp corners.
  • Not try to hold you down and not put anything in your mouth.
  • Turn you on your side in case you throw up during or after the seizure.
  • Check to make sure you are breathing.

Someone should call 911 if:

  • You have stopped breathing or you are choking.
  • The seizure lasts 5 minutes or longer.
  • You have another seizure right after the first one.
  • You are injured during the seizure.
  • This is your first seizure or your seizures are occurring more often than is normal for you

How can I take care of myself?

Stay healthy:

  • Follow your healthcare provider’s advice. Take your medicine exactly as your provider tells you. Don’t stop taking your medicine unless your provider tells you to do so.
  • Go to all of your checkups.

At work or at school:

  • Tell your boss and co-workers or teachers at school that you may have a seizure.
  • Tell them what to do if one happens.

Keep safe:

  • Stay away from jobs that could put you in danger. Don’t work with heavy or fast-moving equipment.
  • Don’t work high off the ground or near water.
  • Ask your healthcare provider which sports are safe for you.
  • Ask your healthcare provider when you may safely drive a car again.
  • Wear a medical alert bracelet.
Developed by RelayHealth.
Adult Advisor 2015.1 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2014-11-07
Last reviewed: 2014-11-07
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Copyright ©1986-2015 McKesson Corporation and/or one of its subsidiaries. All rights reserved.

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