Seizures and Convulsion Disorders

Definition

Convulsion is a term used to describe uncontrollable muscle contractions. A Seizure is an electrical disturbance in the brain, and there are various types of seizures that may have different symptoms. Seizures can lead a person to have convulsions. Paroxysmal Kinesigneic Dyskinesia (PKD) is a rare genetic condition that causes convulsions. 

Cause

Convulsion is a term used to describe uncontrollable muscle contractions. A Seizure is an electrical disturbance in the brain, and there are various types of seizures that may have different symptoms. Seizures can lead a person to have convulsions. Paroxysmal Kinesigneic Dyskinesia (PKD) is a rare genetic condition that causes convulsions. 

Cause

Convulsions can be caused by epileptic, non-epileptic and febrile seizures. Not all patients who have seizures will experience convulsions, some people will remain motionless and unresponsive during a seizure.

Common causes of seizures include alcohol widtrawl, brain infection, brain injury or defect at birth, choking, electrolyte imbalances, stroke, and brain tumors amongst others.

Epileptic Seizures

Epileptic siezures are caused by disturbances in electrical activity in the brain

Febrile Seizures

Children between 6months and 5 years who are experiencing a fever may be affected by Febrile Seizures. Most children who have a febrile seizure do not have any lasting side effects.

Non-epileptic Seizures

These are seizures that may look like epilepsy, but are not caused by electrical disturbances in the brain. It is believed that these types of seizures are caused by mental or emotional stress.

Paroxysmal Kinesigneic Dyskinesia (PKD)

PKD seizures are triggered when a person is startled or stands up abruptly. 

Symptoms

Epileptic Seizures

The most common type is called “Tonic-Clonic” Seizures, where Tonic means stiffening, and Clonic means jerking. During an epileptic seizure, the person may also make groaning sounds.

Febrile Seizures

These types of seizures can cause convulsions that last up to 5 minutes.

Non-epileptic Seizures

Mimic typical epileptic seizure symptoms

Diagnosis

A thorough medical history and details leading up to the seizure will be done by the doctor to help the diagnosis. The doctor may order lab tests to rule out other underlying conditions that could have led to the seizure activity.

An EEG (electroencephalogram) is a test that looks at brain waves, and having an EEG during a seizure can help the doctor see what type of seizure it is. Other imaging such as CT and MRI scans can also assist the doctor to see any abnormalities and help reach a diagnosis. 

Treatment

Epileptic Seizures

Medications are first line treatment to help control seizure activities. Other treatments for epileptic seizures may include surgeries to correct any brain abnormalities, and diet management.

Febrile Seizures

Febrile seizures are considered harmless and do not require treatment, however, if the seizures last more than 5 minutes, and the child does not recover quickly, emergency help is required and calling an ambulance is essential

Non-epileptic Seizures

The recommended treatment for these types of seizures is often psychological or cognitive behavioral therapy, with the goal of giving the person the tools necessary to manage stress that may be leading to the condition.

Paroxysmal Kinesigneic Dyskinesia (PKD)

Anticonvulsant medications have been proven effective as a treatment for PKD

What to do if someone is having a seizure?

There is no way to stop a seizure once it has started, but you can help by:

  • Ensuring they are safe
  • Clear surrounding area of person having the seizure to prevent injury
  • If possible and safe to do so, place them on their side and cushion their head
  • Keep track of time as soon as you notice the seizure

Stay with the person and call emergency services if you note any of the following:

  • Seizure lasts longer than 3 minutes
  • The person does not wake up after the seizure
  • Seizures keep repeating
  • The person experiencing the seizure is pregnant
  • The person has never had a seizure before

Do NOT:

  • Place anything in the person’s mouth
  • Try to hold them down