Seizures are caused by a malfunction in which the brain misreads certain signals or impulses. It can be explained much like a short circuit in an electrical system. Anything that causes a disruption in the way the brain interprets impulses can lead to a seizure. A seizure is a symptom, not a recognized health condition. A fever that skyrockets suddenly, epilepsy, brain tumors, infections that target the brain (meningitis), and a profound drop in blood sugar are all causes of seizures. A sudden change in the internal environment of the body can result in a seizure. Seizures may also be caused by congenital defects within the brain or the central nervous system (epilepsy) that cause certain neurons to misfire.
There are several different types of seizures. The most common type of seizure in children under the age of five is a febrile seizure. This type of seizure occurs when the temperature of the body rises too fast. Other types of seizures include absence seizures (petit mal), tonic-clonic (grand mal), atonic seizures, clonic seizures, tonic seizures, and myoclonic seizures. Each type of seizure has its own characteristics and is triggered by specific responses in the brain. Tests can be performed by the doctor to isolate the type of seizure a patient is having and determine if it is neurological (epilepsy) or a reaction within the brain that is caused by a congenital defect. It may also be triggered by functional changes in the body such as a high fever or a drop in blood sugar.
The constant misfiring of certain neurons in the brain can result in brain impairment and possibly damage if left untreated. Each time a person has a seizure or the seizures increase in severity or duration, the risk of damage to the brain increases dramatically. Determining the cause of the seizures is the first step in controlling them. Doctors can use a variety of tests, including an EEG test, to help uncover the cause and develop effective treatment plans to help prevent the frequency and duration of most types of seizures. Minimizing the number of seizures a person has on a regular basis is important to protect the brain and encourage proper brain function.