Seizures occur when nerve cells in your body misfire. Types of seizures vary.
Recurrent seizures from one of many chronic processes are considered epilepsy.
However, seizures are not considered to be epilepsy if they occur only once or
|Signs and Symptoms|
- Aura (before generalized seizures), including lethargy, depression,
irritability, involuntary jerks of limbs, abdominal pains, pale complexion,
headache, constipation, or diarrhea
- Loss of consciousness
- Total body muscle spasms
- Temporary cessation of breathing
- Bluish color of skin and mucous membranes
- Dilated pupils that do not react to light
- Bowel or bladder incontinence
- Increased pulse and blood pressure
- Increased salivation and sweating
- Deep coma, post-seizure confusion, and deep
|What Causes It?|
Seizures are caused by hyperexcitable nerve cells in the brain (cerebral
cortex) that fire abnormally. No one knows why this happens. The conditions
listed below are associated with seizure activity.
- Central nervous system infection (bacterial meningitis,
- Drug toxicity or withdrawal (for example, alcohol or illicit drug
- Genetic mutations
- Head trauma
- Electrolyte or metabolic abnormalities
- Drugs that lower the seizure threshold
- High fevers
- Brain abnormalities (for example, tumors, stroke)
- Low sugar and low calcium levels in the
|What to Expect at Your Provider's Office|
Precipitating events (for example, head trauma) and risk factors (for
example, family or personal history of seizures) are important factors to be
discussed with your provider. It is also important to note how you felt before
and after the seizure. Your provider will do blood tests for baseline values and
an electroencephalogram (EEG) to help in your diagnosis.
The goal of therapy is to stop the seizures, to minimize adverse drug
effects, to prevent recurrences, and to help you readjust to your home life and
work environment after a seizure.
Your health care provider will most likely prescribe medication to help
control your seizures (approximately 30 to 70 percent of people who have a
seizure will have a second seizure within one year). You may need to try several
medications before you find one that works for you.
|Complementary and Alternative Therapies|
Some mild seizures may be controlled by alternative therapies.
- Diet: a high-fat, low-protein, low-carbohydrate (ketogenic) diet may
help control the frequency of seizures. Some studies have shown a connection
with food allergies and seizures in children. Avoid alcohol, caffeine, and
- Taurine (500 mg three times per day): amino acid that has been shown
in studies to inhibit seizures
- Folic acid (400 mcg per day): depleted during seizures and in some
people with seizures, although higher doses than 400 mcg may actually
precipitate some seizures. Should be taken with B12
- B12 (100 to 200 mcg per day)
- B6 (20 to 50 mg per kilogram of body weight): especially in children
may help control seizures
- Magnesium: 500 to 750 mg per day (should be in a 1:1 ratio in persons
taking calcium) for normal muscle and nervous system function
- Manganese (5 to 15 mg per day): depleted in people with
- Zinc (30 mg per day): may be depleted by some medications
- Dimethylglycine (100 mg twice a day): may decrease medication
Herbs may be used as dried extracts (capsules, powders, teas), glycerites
(glycerine extracts), or tinctures (alcohol extracts). Teas should be made with
1 tsp. of herb per cup of hot water. Steep covered 5 to 10 minutes for leaf or
flowers; 10 to 20 minutes for roots. Drink 2 to 4 cups per day.
- Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata): to both prevent and
treat seizures, may be effective without side effects, especially where stress
is a precipitating factor. Dose is 30 drops three to four times per
- Skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora): antispasmodic and
- Valerian (Valeriana officinalis): spasmolytic,
The above herbs may be used singly or in combination as 1 cup tea three times
per day or 30 to 60 drops tincture three times per day. In addition, use milk
thistle (Silybum marianum) to protect the liver from effects of
medications (70 to 210 mg three times per day).
There have been few studies examining the effectiveness of specific
homeopathic remedies. Professional homeopaths, however, may recommend one or
more of the following treatments for seizure disorders based on their knowledge
and clinical experience. Before prescribing a remedy, homeopaths take into
account a person's constitutional type. In homeopathic terms, a person's
constitution is his or her physical, emotional, and intellectual makeup. An
experienced homeopath assesses all of these factors when determining the most
appropriate remedy for a particular individual.
- Belladonna — for seizures that occur
in individuals with a high fever
- Causticum — for individuals whose
seizures may be triggered by receiving bad news or by feelings of sadness such
as from grief; this remedy is most appropriate for individuals who tend to feel
hopeless and fearful
- Cicuta — for individuals who develop
seizures after a head injury
- Cuprum metallicum — for individuals
whose seizures are accompanied by mental dullness; may be triggered by
menstruation or vomiting
Chiropractic, osteopathic, or naturopathic manipulation may be helpful,
especially in children or for seizures after head trauma.
Acupuncture may be helpful with specific acupressure points that have been
used to stop seizures.
Determining the best dosage or drug combinations is an inexact science; your
provider will monitor you until your seizures are under
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|Review Date: August 1999|
|Reviewed By: Participants in the review process include: Peter Hinderberger, MD, PhD,
Ruscombe Mansion Community Health Center, Baltimore, MD; Lonnie Lee, MD,
Internal Medicine, Silver Springs, MD; Eric Wellons, MD, Department of Surgery,
Union Memorial Hospital, Baltimore, MD.|
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