EPILEPSY – What To Know

What is Epilepsy?

Epilepsy is a chronic disorder that causes unprovoked, recurrent seizures. A seizure is a sudden rush of electrical activity in the brain.

There are two main types of seizures. Generalized seizures affect the whole brain. Focal, or partial seizures, affect just one part of the brain.

A mild seizure may be difficult to recognize. It can last a few seconds during which you lack awareness.

Stronger seizures can cause spasms and uncontrollable muscle twitches and can last a few seconds to several minutes. During a stronger seizure, some people become confused or lose consciousness. Afterwards you may have no memory of it happening.

There are several reasons you might have a seizure. These include:

  • high fever
  • head trauma
  • very low blood sugar
  • alcohol withdrawal

Anyone can develop epilepsy, but it’s more common in young children and older adults. It occurs slightly more in males than in females.

There’s no cure for epilepsy, but the disorder can be managed with medications and other strategies.


The main symptom of epilepsy is recurrent seizures. However, if a person experiences one or more of the following symptoms, they should seek medical attention, as it may indicate epilepsy:

  • a convulsion with no fever
  • short blackouts or confused memory
  • intermittent fainting spells, during which they lose bowel or bladder control, frequently followed by extreme tiredness
  • temporary unresponsiveness to instructions or questions
  • sudden stiffness for no apparent reason
  • sudden falling for no apparent reason
  • sudden bouts of blinking without apparent stimuli
  • sudden bouts of chewing without any clear reason
  • temporarily seeming dazed and unable to communicate
  • repetitive movements that seem involuntary
  • fearfulness for no apparent reason
  • panic or anger
  • peculiar changes in senses, such as smell, touch, and sound
  • jerking arms, legs, or body, which will appear as a cluster of rapid jerking movements in babies


Messaging systems in the brain control every function in the human body. Epilepsy develops due to a disruption in this system, which may result from brain dysfunction.

In many cases, healthcare professionals will not know the exact cause. Some people inherit genetic factors that make epilepsy more likely to occur. Other factors that may increase the risk include:

  • head trauma, such as from a vehicle accident
  • brain conditions, including stroke and tumours
  • infectious diseases, such as viral encephalitis
  • cysticercosis
  • AIDS
  • prenatal injury or brain damage that occurs before birth
  • developmental conditions, including autism and neurofibromatosis

People with Epilepsy should be extremely careful when engaging in physical activities.

People with uncontrolled seizures need to be especially careful when engaging in more risky activities and should seek advice from their doctors and physiotherapists before engaging in:

  • Ice activities such as skiing, skating and hockey
  • Solo watersports such as sailing or sailboarding
  • Motorsports
  • Solo aerial sports such as hang-gliding and skydiving
  • Contact sports, scuba diving, bungee-jumping and boxing
  • High altitude activities such as mountain-climbing
  • Horseback riding
  • Gymnastics

It is essential for someone to be present with the person who gets seizures that are difficult to control. That someone should know what should be done in case the epileptic person gets seizures. However, with adequate planning and precautions, you can take part in a wide range of activities after discussing your sports aspirations with your doctor or therapist.

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