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Diagnosing & Treating Epilepsy


Epilepsy refers to a spectrum of brain disorders that cause seizures. These movement disorders may be the result of factors that interrupt normal nerve activity in the brain. Symptoms are varied and can include preseizure mood changes, smelling odors that don’t exist, feeling strange, or tingling sensations.

At Dignity Health hospitals, experienced neurologists and neurosurgeons collaborate to offer personalized care. To learn more about treatment for epilepsy in the Bay Area, use our online search tool to Find a Doctor.

Epilepsy Symptoms

The main symptom of epilepsy is seizures, which vary but can include:

  • Abnormal head shaking
  • Convulsions
  • Momentary inability to speak
  • Periods of staring, usually for 15 seconds or less
  • Rigid muscles
  • Shaking of the arms, legs, or whole body

Neurologists diagnose epilepsy as multiple seizures over a period of time. A single seizure that occurs due to head trauma or high fever is not considered epilepsy.

Epilepsy Causes

The primary causes of epilepsy are due to disruption of nerve activity in the brain, and include:

Sometimes, epilepsy is passed down through families (inherited). In other cases, the cause is unknown.

Comprehensive Epilepsy Treatment at Dignity Health

The goal of treatment for epilepsy is to reduce the severity and number of seizures. At Dignity Health, your neurologist may recommend:

  • Medications to reduce the number of seizures
  • Surgery to remove brain tissue or implant a device to help restore nerve function
  • Treating the underlying health condition, such as a brain tumor

Epilepsy can result from a traumatic brain injury, so it’s important to wear protective gear when participating in high-risk sports or similar activities. Talk with your doctor about these and other preventive measures. 

Neurologists at Dignity Health hospitals in the Bay Area specialize in the care and treatment of epilepsy.