St Mary's Medical Center

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Seizures and Epilepsy

Explore the symptoms and treatment options for seizures and epilepsy. We’ll provide the information and care plan you need to live life to the fullest.

What is a seizure?

During a seizure, the nerve cells in the brain don’t communicate normally. A seizure may affect a person's muscle control, movement, speech, vision or consciousness. Seizures may indicate that a person has epilepsy.

What is epilepsy?

Epilepsy is a neurological condition that makes people vulnerable to having more seizures. It affects people of all ages. More than two million Americans have epilepsy – it’s one of the most common nervous system disorders.

Symptoms of a seizure

The symptoms of a seizure can include:

  • Confusion
  • Jerking movements of the arms and legs
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Staring into space
  • Stiffening of the body
  • Tongue biting

How are seizures diagnosed?

Some seizures have known causes, such as head injuries, infections, fevers, brain tumors or other brain abnormalities. But often, the cause of seizures is unknown.

An epilepsy diagnosis may come after a complete medical evaluation and testing, which may include:

  • Blood tests
  • Electroencephalogram (EEG)
  • Lumbar puncture (Spinal Tap)
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)

Learn more about these screenings and tests.

Living with epilepsy and seizures

Seizures affect each person differently. Some people outgrow the condition and no longer have seizures, while others can control their seizures with medications. Surgery sometimes is considered for people whose seizures can’t be controlled with medication. Alternative treatment options, such as deep brain stimulation, can be effective in treating epilepsy.

Not all locations have all support group offerings. For a full list, including dates and any costs, please use our Classes Calendar to search for an epilepsy support group near you.

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