15.1.2  Features of seizures

Following the seizure, people may experience additional symptoms including headaches, vomiting, aches and pains, extreme tiredness, slurring of speech, weakness, or paralysis of the limbs. The experience of a seizure can drain the body (both physically and psychologically) so, afterwards, people may prefer to rest. Some may exhibit confused or odd behaviour after the seizure.

Nocturnal seizures occur when the person is asleep — in the day or the night.

Seizures may occur in irregular intervals. This may be as frequently as several times in a day or a few times a week. In other instances, they may occur only a few times in a year. The attack may occur when the person is asleep (known as nocturnal seizures), when alone, or while walking on the street or working in the field. Thus in any situation, anywhere, any time, the person can have an attack. The attack may place the person in peril, for instance, when it happens near fire or in the water, or when the person is climbing, operating machinery, or driving a vehicle. The fall following the seizure may result in trauma or burn injury.

Many people with epilepsy find that certain circumstances, or substances, can trigger a seizure. These epilepsy triggers include: stress, lack of sleep, alcohol (particularly if a large amount is drunk in a short time), and health conditions that cause a high fever. Also, some women may find that they are more prone to having seizures just before, during or after their menstrual period. This is because the hormones released by the body during this time can change the chemical composition of the brain, making seizures more likely. Also the changes in mood many women experience before their period — premenstrual tension (PMT) — can make them feel stressed and anxious, which again increases the chance of a seizure.

Most people with epilepsy have something that is known as a seizure threshold. People with a low seizure threshold will experience frequent seizures and be sensitive to epilepsy triggers. Those with a high seizure threshold will experience less frequent seizures, and epilepsy triggers will have less effect on them.

15.1.1  Types of seizure

15.1.3  Attitudes towards epilepsy