Overview of epilepsy

Epilepsy is a spectrum disorder in which disruptions to normal nerve activity in the brain trigger seizures, and is no longer considered a single disease. Signs and symptoms of epilepsy can range from mild to debilitating. Epilepsy is no longer considered a single disease, but a spectrum of brain disorders that cause seizures. A variety of factors that interrupt normal nerve activity in the brain can be the cause of epilepsy.

From diagnosis to treating your epileptic seizures, the expert neurologists at Dignity Health are here for you every step of way through your epilepsy symptoms in AZ, NV, and CA. Come to one of our many locations, and we’ll find the answer to your health needs.

Symptoms of epilepsy

Seizures are the defining sign of epilepsy. If you have repeated seizures over a period of time, you may be diagnosed with epilepsy.

The signs and symptoms of seizures vary from person to person and also may depend on which part of the brain is involved. There are three types of seizure: absence, focal, and tonic-clonic.

Generally speaking, seizure symptoms for any of these types may include:

  • Feeling strange or weird immediately prior to a seizure
  • Change in mood or emotions right before a seizure
  • Smelling odors that aren’t there
  • Visual or auditory hallucinations
  • Tingling or crawling feeling of the skin
  • Muscle rigidity
  • Abnormal head movements
  • Periods of staring into space
  • Facial flushing
  • Inability to speak during the seizure

Causes of epilepsy

Epilepsy results from disruption of normal nerve activity in the brain. This disruption can be caused by many factors, including:

  • Congenital brain defects, or problems that are present at birth
  • Brain injury
  • Brain tumors
  • Blood chemistry abnormalities
  • Infections, such as meningitis
  • Abnormally formed blood vessels in the brain
  • Stroke
  • Alzheimer’s disease or dementia

Oftentimes, the root cause of epilepsy is unknown. This is called “idiopathic.” In some cases, epilepsy runs in families.