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New-onset Seizure In Adults


What is a seizure?

A seizure is an episode of abnormal brain activity that can cause jerky muscle movements, loss of consciousness, or confusion. A new-onset seizure is a seizure that happens for the first time.

What are the signs and symptoms of a seizure?

You may have symptoms before the seizure starts such as dizziness, anxiety, or flashing bright lights. You may have symptoms of one type of a seizure or a combination of different types:

  • A generalized seizure may affect both sides of the brain. After you have a generalized seizure you may have a headache or feel irritable. The following are different types of generalized seizures:
    • A tonic, clonic, or tonic-clonic seizure usually involves the whole body. A clonic seizure involves jerking body movements. A tonic seizure involves stiffening of the body. A tonic-clonic seizure is a combination of clonic and tonic seizures. It is also called a grand mal seizure. During any of these types of seizures, you may lose consciousness, your eyes may roll up and back into your head, and you may sweat all over your body.
    • A myoclonic seizure involves a sudden jerk of all or part of the body.
    • An atonic seizure is usually brief and causes a sudden loss of posture. You may fall suddenly to the ground.
    • An absence seizure is also known as a petit mal seizure. You may stare blankly into space, and will not pay attention to anything happening around you. Your eyes may flutter or blink repeatedly, and you may smack your lips. You may have several absence seizures throughout a day.
    • An atypical absence seizure looks like an absence seizure but with repetitive behaviors such as eye opening and closing, eyes rolling outward or inward, and body stiffening.
  • A partial seizure may affect one part of the brain. The symptoms may depend on where in the brain the abnormal activity is happening. It may be simple or complex. A simple partial seizure may not cause you to be less awake or alert. A complex partial seizure may cause you to be less awake or alert. Both types of partial seizures may cause jerky muscle movements, confusion, hallucinations, sweating, or repetitive behaviors.

What causes a seizure?

The cause of your seizure may not be known. Any of the following may cause a seizure:

  • A brain tumor or head trauma
  • A stroke
  • Exposure to toxins
  • Drug or alcohol overdose or withdrawal
  • Eclampsia
  • Fever or infection
  • An electrolyte imbalance or low blood sugar

How is a seizure diagnosed?

Bring someone with you that saw you have a seizure. They can tell healthcare providers what happened during your seizure, how long it lasted, and how you acted after it was done. Tell your healthcare provider about any family history of seizures and any recent illness or trauma. He will examine you and check how well your brain is working.

How is a seizure treated?

Treatment may depend on the cause of your seizure. You may need medicine to prevent another seizure. Alternative therapies such as relaxation, biofeedback, and yoga, may help decrease stress and your risk for another seizure.

How can I stay safe?

  • Do not drive until your healthcare provider says it is okay.
  • Do not operate heavy equipment or dangerous machines for at least 6 months.
  • Do not swim, scuba dive, or climb for 3 months , or as directed.
  • Help prevent another seizure with healthy habits. Do not drink alcohol. Eat healthy foods, exercise regularly, and reduce stress. Try to get plenty of sleep.
  • Tell your friends, family members, and coworkers that you have had a seizure. Give them written instructions to follow if you have another seizure.

How can others keep me safe if I have another seizure?

Give the following instructions to family, friends, and coworkers:

  • Do not panic.
  • Do not hold me down or put anything in my mouth.
  • Gently guide me to the floor or a soft surface.
    First Aid: Convulsions
  • Place me on my side to help prevent me from swallowing saliva or vomit.
    First Aid: Convulsions
  • Protect me from injury. Remove sharp or hard objects from the area surrounding me, or cushion my head.
  • Loosen my clothing around the head and neck.
  • Time how long my seizure lasts. Call 911 if my seizure lasts longer than 5 minutes or if I have a second seizure.
  • Stay with me until my seizure ends. Let me rest until I am fully awake.
  • Perform CPR if I stop breathing or you cannot feel my pulse.
  • Do not give me anything to eat or drink until I am fully awake.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

© 2016 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.