The Difference Between Seizure and Epilepsy
Marissa Di Giovine, MD, FAAP, is a pediatric neurologist with a subspecialty in epilepsy. She currently holds the position of Assistant Professor of Clinical Neurology at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and is an active member of the Regional Pediatric Epilepsy Program at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. He is also proud to be a founding member of the American Academy of Pediatrics Mentoring Committee and an active member of the American Academy of Pediatrics, especially within the Department of New Graduate Physicians and the Department of Neurology.
The information contained in this website should not be used as a substitute for the medical advice and care of your pediatrician. There may be many variations in the treatment your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.
Epilepsy is a brain disorder in which a person has repeated seizures over a period of time. Seizures are episodes of uncontrolled, abnormal activity of nerve cells that may cause changes in attention or behavior. Causes
The doctor will perform a physical examination. This includes a detailed examination of the brain and nervous system. An EEG (electroencephalogram) will be done to check the electrical activity in the brain. People with epilepsy often have abnormal electrical activity seen on this test. In some cases, the test shows the area of the brain where seizures begin. The brain may appear normal after a seizure or between seizures.To diagnose epilepsy or plan surgery for epilepsy, you may need:Tests that may be done include:Often, a CT scan or MRI of the head is done to find the cause and location of the problem in the brain.Treatment
The convulsive crisis is one of the most frequent neurological emergencies in the emergency services. If there isn’t a fast and suitable treatment it can drive to neurological damage or to the death.
Seizures account for approximately 1-2% of medical emergencies. Forty-four percent of seizures seen in the emergency department are the first seizure in a previously healthy subject1 .
A seizure can manifest itself in many clinical forms but the characteristic feature is involuntary, stereotyped and uncontrollable behavior on the part of the patient. It is usually expressed in the form of recurrent seizures. Since the symptomatology is usually alarming for both the patient and his or her environment, it will be a frequent reason for consultation in the emergency department, even in the case of known epileptic patients2.
The first step in the ED is, therefore, to collect detailed information about the episode, prodrome and subsequent evolution, both from the patient and from possible witnesses, that will allow us to recognize the true seizures.
Diseases that cause seizures
A seizure is understood as the sudden and involuntary contraction of a muscle group, which usually results in a paroxysmal neuronal discharge. By extension, this denomination is applied to any cerebral crisis, even if its manifestations are not motor but sensory-sensory or even autonomic or psychic (17-19). Cerebral crises of any type whose dominant character is their recurrence or interactivity constitute epilepsy.
The treatment of seizure syndrome is aimed at maintaining adequate ventilation and oxygenation while doing what is necessary to interrupt seizure activity. Therefore, the measures are oriented to: keep the airways permeable; avoid aspiration of secretions and/or vomiting; prevent traumatic injuries from occurring; try to stop the seizure quickly; gradually lower the temperature; emotionally support the parents and verify the adequate outcome of the therapeutic assistance.