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Home >> Specialities >> Neurosciences >> Epilepsy & Seisures

Epilepsy & Seisures

Epilepsy is a neurological disorder characterized by recurrent, unprovoked seizures. It affects millions of people worldwide, transcending age, gender, and cultural boundaries. This condition arises from abnormal electrical activity in the brain, leading to sudden, unpredictable episodes known as seizures. Understanding epilepsy and its various facets is crucial for both those affected and the broader community.

Types of Seizures
Seizures manifest in diverse ways, depending on the area of the brain affected and the extent of abnormal activity. They are broadly categorized into two main types:

  • Generalized Seizures: These seizures involve widespread electrical disturbances that affect both hemispheres of the brain. They can be further subcategorized into several types, including:
    • Tonic-Clonic Seizures (Grand Mal): Marked by loss of consciousness, stiffening of muscles (tonic phase), and subsequent rhythmic jerking (clonic phase).
    • Absence Seizures (Petit Mal): Brief lapses in consciousness, often mistaken for daydreaming, and accompanied by blank staring.
    • Atonic Seizures (Drop Attacks): Sudden loss of muscle tone, leading to falls or dropping of the head.
  • Partial Seizures (Focal Seizures): These seizures originate in a specific area of the brain and may exhibit a wide range of symptoms, depending on the affected region. They can be further divided into:
    • Simple Partial Seizures: Consciousness is retained, and the individual may experience unusual sensations, movements, or emotions.
    • Complex Partial Seizures: Consciousness is impaired, and individuals may exhibit repetitive movements or behaviors.
    • Secondarily Generalized Seizures: Partial seizures that evolve into generalized seizures.

Causes and Triggers
Epilepsy can arise from a multitude of causes, and in some cases, the exact origin remains unknown. Common causes include:

  • Genetic Predisposition: Some forms of epilepsy have a hereditary component, suggesting a genetic link.
  • Brain Injury or Trauma: Head injuries, strokes, tumors, and infections can lead to epilepsy.
  • Neurological Disorders: Conditions like Alzheimer's disease, multiple sclerosis, and neurofibromatosis can increase the risk of epilepsy.
  • Infections: Certain infections of the central nervous system, such as meningitis or encephalitis, can trigger seizures.
  • Developmental Disorders: Conditions like autism and neurodevelopmental disorders may be associated with epilepsy.
  • Metabolic Disorders: Imbalances in blood sugar, sodium, or calcium levels can lead to seizures.

Management and Treatment
The goal of epilepsy treatment is to control seizures while minimizing side effects. This often involves a multidisciplinary approach:

  • Medications: Antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) are the cornerstone of epilepsy treatment. They work by stabilizing electrical activity in the brain. Finding the right medication and dosage is a crucial aspect of management.
  • Lifestyle Modifications: Avoiding known triggers, such as lack of sleep, excessive stress, or certain stimuli, can help reduce the frequency of seizures.
  • Surgery: For some individuals, surgery may be an option to remove or disconnect the area of the brain causing seizures.
  • Dietary Therapies: Ketogenic and modified Atkins diets, which are high in fats and low in carbohydrates, have shown effectiveness in some cases, particularly in children.
  • Vagus Nerve Stimulation (VNS): This involves implanting a device that sends electrical impulses to the brain through the vagus nerve, helping to reduce the frequency and intensity of seizures.

Epilepsy and seizures are complex neurological phenomena that can significantly impact the lives of those affected. Advances in understanding, diagnosis, and treatment have brought hope to individuals living with epilepsy. With ongoing research and support, the goal of achieving improved seizure control and quality of life for those with epilepsy continues to be within reach.

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