Epilepsy and Seizures

Epilepsy is diagnosed when a person has more than one episode of epileptic seizures. Learn more about epilepsy symptoms.

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Understanding Seizures and Epilepsy

A seizure is an abnormal electrical discharge of a group of brain cells. It can cause different symptoms, depending on the location of the seizure and the spread of electrical activity through the brain.

A person has epilepsy when he/she has more than one episode of seizures or if assessed to have a high risk of having recurrent seizures.

People who suffered a stroke, brain injury, infection or tumour can have epilepsy. In around half the cases, a cause cannot be found.

Triggers of seizures in patients with epilepsy include stress, lack of sleep, menstruation, concurrent infection and skipping medications.

Types of Seizures

There are 2 main types:

Focal Seizures
  • Usually affects only one part of the body
  • Result in sensory, motor or autonomic disturbances
  • The patient may be conscious or unconscious
  • Generalised Seizures
  • May start as a focal seizure and spread throughout the whole brain
  • Loss of consciousness usually lasting 30 seconds to 5 minutes
  • Usually rhythmic muscle jerking lasting 1 to 2 minutes
  • May cause tongue biting, incontinence and difficulty in breathing
  • If a person experiences continous seizures for more than 3-5 minutes, or on and off seizures without regaining consciousness in between, call 995 or go to the Emergency Department immediately. He/she is having a serious seizure and this is a medical emergency.

    Diagnosing Seizures and Epilepsy

    Epilepsy is disgnosed based on information of events that happened during the attack. Tests may be ordered to confirm the diagnosis, type and cause.

  • Electroencephalogram (EEG)
  • This test records the electrical activity of the brain through electrodes attached to the patient's head. The patient may be asked to perform simple tasks during the EEG recording.

  • Computerised Tomography (CT) and Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
  • Either form of imaging may be required to look for structural causes of seizures.

    Preventing Siezures and Epilepsy

    REDUCE risk of seizures:
  • Take prescribed anti-epileptic medications regularly
  • Avoid overconsumption of alcohol/alcohol binges
  • Seek early treatment for illness and fever
  • Reduce stress levels
  • Get sufficient sleep and rest
  • Prevent complications of seizures by AVOIDING the following:
  • Swimming unsupervised or in open waters
  • Activities at height
  • Bathing in a bathtub
  • Activities involving open fire and hot surfaces
  • Activities involving heavy machinery and firearms
  • Driving. Seek the advice of your doctor.
  • Treating Seizures and Epilepsy

    Anti-epileptic medications are the first-line treatment. Different types of medication may be prescribed. The more common side effects include sleepiness and dizziness.

    Patients with focal seizures and are not responding to medications may consider surgery.

    Managing Seizures and Epilepsy

    Keep a seizure diary to record the number, type and triggers of seizures. This will help your doctors assess the effectiveness of medications.

    When someone is having a seizure:

  • Remain Calm
  • Protect the person from harm
  • Turn the person to the side
  • Observe the type and duration of seizure
  • DO NOT restrain the person unless there is danger
  • DO NOT put anything in the mouth
  • DO NOT crowd around the person
  • Support for Seizures and Epilepsy

    Singapore Epilepsy Foundation

    The Singapore Epilepsy Foundation provides support for epilepsy patients with their caregivers, and increases public awareness of epilepsy. For more information contact 6334 4302 or visit wwww.epilepsy.com.sg

    Epilepsy Care Group (Singapore)

    The Epilepsy Care Group (Singapore) provides education and counselling for epilepsy patients and their caregivers, while promoting public awareness To find out more, contact 6358 0566 or visit wwww.epilepsycare.com.sg

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    Epilepsy and Seizures

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