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Seizure and Epilepsy

Author: Cassie Wang

Seizure vs Epilepsy

Seizure is associated with abnormal electrical activity in the brain. Seizure is one of the prominent symptoms of epilepsy, a disorder characterized by the recurrence of seizures. There are about 200,000 cases every year in the US. Usually, epilepsy can be diagnosed if the individual has more than two episodes of seizures. 

However, not all people who have seizures have epilepsy. There are also non-epileptic seizures that are not accompanied by irregular brain activity but psychological issues. People who experience trauma, high fever, low blood sugar, low blood sodium, and drug abuse can have single seizures. 


Types of Seizures

Generalized seizures: affect both sides of the brain 

  • Absence seizures: rapid blinking or staring into space

  • Tonic-clonic seizures: cry out, loss of consciousness, falling, muscle jerks

  • Atonic seizures: loss of muscle control and sudden fall

  • Clonic seizures: repeated movements of muscle jerks in the face, neck and arms

  • Myoclonic seizures: involuntary quick twitching of arms and legs 

  • Tonic-clonic seizures: stiffness, shaking, loss of bladder control, tongue biting, loss of consciousness

Focal seizures: affect one area of the brain 

  • Simple focal seizures: twitching or changes in taste or smell 

  • Complex focal seizures: confusion

  • Secondary generalized seizures: origin in one part of the brain and later spread to both sides of the brain.


Causes of Epilepsy

Epilepsy has genetic deposition. Certain genes can make some individuals more likely to have seizures and epilepsy. Damage to the brain such as head injury or brain tumors can also lead to epilepsy. Stroke is the leading cause of epilepsy in people over 35. Infectious diseases like meningitis and developmental disorders like autism are possible causes of epilepsy. During pregnancy, if the mother has an infection, malnutrition or oxygen deficit, the baby is more sensitive to epilepsy. 


Treatment of Epilepsy

Epilepsy is controlled by drug therapy and psychological treatment. If epilepsy is severe, surgery may be needed. Individuals who do not improve under drug treatment can benefit from a ketogenic diet.

Epilepsy can not be cured but treatment and early diagnosis can greatly reduce symptoms. 


What to do if someone is having a seizure

  • Stay with the person until they return to consciousness

  • Check to see if they are wearing a medical bracelet or other emergency information

  • Ease the person to the floor and turn the person onto one side

  • Protect their head using clothes or blankets and clear the surroundings to avoid anything hard or sharp

  • Remove eyeglasses and accessories (around the neck)

  • Do not restrain them

  • Do not put anything in their mouth or try to give mouth-to-mouth breathes

  • Do not offer them water or food

  • Make sure them get home safely


Seek urgent medical care, if

  • The seizure lasts more than five minutes 

  • Loss of breath and consciousness continues after seizures 

  • Followed by a second seizure 

  • Experience high fever or heat exhaustion 

  • Seizures occur during accidents or pregnancy

Note: for more information on treatments for seizures and epilepsy, please see "A Review on Treatments for Seizures and Epilepsy" by Judy Zhu.


Cherney, K. (2019, August 23). 5 Natural Treatments for Epilepsy. Retrieved from

Epilepsy. (2020, May 05). Retrieved from

Epilepsy and Seizures: Provoked Seizures, Seizure Disorder, and More. (2020, September 18). Retrieved from

Person, Tawnya M. Constantino, M., 276, ImageObject, & Dr. Constantino is a Neurologist at the Intermountain Neurosciences Institute. (2017, December 12). What's the Difference Between a Seizure and Epilepsy? Retrieved from

Seizure First Aid. (2020, September 30). Retrieved from of Seizures. (2020, September 30). Retrieved from

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