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What is a seizure disorder?

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Quick Answer

A seizure disorder, such as epilepsy, is a condition where nerve cells in the brain become overexcited and fire abnormally, as defined by the University of Maryland Medical Center. As a result, the brain sends out the wrong electrical signals, prompting a seizure.

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Full Answer

Although the cause of a seizure disorder is typically unknown, seizures can be caused by injury to the brain before birth, a head injury, a stroke, heart attack or hereditary genes, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Some medical conditions, such as lupus and meningitis, can also cause seizures.

Several different types of seizures can occur in individuals with seizure disorders, per the University of Maryland Medical Center. Simple partial seizures prompt muscle twitches in the legs and arms, changes in vision, and a sense of unusual smells or tastes. A simple partial seizure does not cause the individual to lose consciousness, but people with complex partial seizures may lose awareness for a short time. Complex partial seizures may prompt repetitive actions such as rubbing the hands together, staring into space and walking in circles.

Generalized seizures such as a petit mal causes the individual to lose consciousness temporarily and stare, as stated by the University of Maryland Medical Center. Myclonic seizures often produce jerking and twitching of the body whereas grand mal, the most serious type of seizures may cause a loss of bladder control, unconsciousness, and shaking or jerking for five to 20 minutes.

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