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What Causes Seizures in Adults

What Causes Seizures in Adults

A seizure is characterized by abnormal changes in behavior due to a disturbance in electrical activity in the brain. Scroll down to find out what causes seizures in adults along with the symptoms one may experience during a seizure attack.
Smita Pandit
Last Updated: Jan 27, 2018
A seizure is a medical condition that is characterized by a sudden onset of certain symptoms due to a sudden surge of an abnormal electrical activity in one's brain. Sudden jerky movements, tremors, strange sensory sensations, muscle stiffness, vision changes, spasms or convulsions are some of the most common symptoms of a seizure. The symptoms one would exhibit during a seizure would vary depending on the part of the brain that is affected by the abnormal electrical activity. When only a part of the brain is affected, one is diagnosed with a focal or partial seizure. On the other hand, seizures that occur due to abnormal electrical discharge in the entire brain are referred to as generalized seizures.
A variety of factors could affect the transmission of the electrical impulses. When the doctors are unable to identify the underlying cause of recurring episodes of seizures, one is said to suffer from epilepsy or a seizure disorder. Such disturbances associated with electrical activity in the brain could affect both children as well as adults. Here's some information on what causes seizures in adults and how this medical condition can be treated.
What Causes Seizures?
Seizures occur when the nerve cells or neurons are not able to transmit electrical impulses in a normal way. An impulse refers to the electrical discharge that travels along a nerve fiber. The electrical impulses travel from neuron to neuron with the help of neurotransmitters. Once these impulses reach the brain, these are interpreted by the brain and signals are send out to the other parts of the body through electrical impulses. This is how the brain controls the way we talk, move or feel. At times, the nerve cells may misfire and this may lead to the generation of sudden abnormal electrical activity in the brain. This causes sudden uncontrolled jerky movements and even cause a convulsion. While some degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's disease, dementia or Parkinson's disease may cause seizures in elderly people, there are various other conditions that may cause seizures in adults. Here are some of the medical conditions that may cause seizures in adults as well as children.
Head Injuries: At times, traumatic head injuries could be responsible for causing a seizure. A harsh blow to the head or a brain injury that takes place during an accident can cause blood vessels inside the brain to rupture. Such an intracranial bleeding may cause seizures. It could cause structural brain damage and lead to a variety of other distressing symptoms.
Brain Infection: Infection in the brain can also cause electrical impulses to misfire. Infections such as meningitis or viral encephalitis could also cause seizures. Meningitis refers to the inflammation of meninges or the tissues that surround the brain or spinal cord, whereas encephalitis is a viral infection that causes inflammation of the brain. At times, fluid may accumulate in the brain as a result of infections and this could adversely affect the functioning of the brain.
Intracranial Hemorrhage: Bleeding inside the brain could cause formation of blood clots, which in turn, may affect the oxygen supply to the brain cells. Blockage of blood supply and the resultant lack of oxygen supply to the brain can cause brain cells to die. This condition is medically referred to as brain attack or stroke. Medical conditions such as high blood pressure or hardening of the arteries in the brain (atherosclerosis) may also make one vulnerable to a stroke.
Metabolic Disorders: At times, seizures could be caused due to hypoglycemia or low levels of blood sugar. Electrolyte balance, which is the balance between the amounts of calcium, sodium and potassium are extremely important for healthy functioning of the body. An electrolyte imbalance could also make one susceptible to seizures.
Sudden Withdrawal: Sudden or abrupt withdrawal from alcohol or addictive substances can also increase the risk of seizures. Abrupt withdrawal from drugs such as barbiturates, benzodiazepines or sedatives can also bring about a seizure.
Treatment of Seizures
As you already know, seizures may be caused due to brain disorders such as brain tumors, brain abscess or brain infections or could even occur as a result of other medical conditions. It is therefore, essential, that certain diagnostic tests are performed to identify the underlying cause of seizures. Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) or Electroencephalography (EEG) are both imaging procedures that can be conducted to analyze the electrical activity in the brain. While drug therapy would be recommended for treating infections, surgery may be resorted to, if one has been diagnosed with a brain tumor. Blood tests must also be performed in order to ascertain if any other organ is affected. Kidney or liver diseases can also put one at an increased risk of having seizures, so, it's essential that any such condition be treated at the earliest. For a person who is diagnosed with epilepsy, an antiepilepsy medication is usually prescribed so as to prevent the recurrence of seizures. Doctors may also provide the patients with guidelines on how to prevent seizures. Complying with these instructions may also help in lowering the frequency of seizure attacks.
Since seizures may be caused due to serious medical conditions, a person suffering from recurrent episodes of seizures must consult a doctor at the earliest. It's extremely essential that the underlying cause is diagnosed and treated soon. If one is diagnosed with epilepsy, it would be better to don an identification bracelet that contains one's contact details and the information regarding the prescribed antiepilepsy medication.