Ask the Doctor: Seizures - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe Sparks News, Weather, Video

Ask the Doctor: Seizures

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What should you do if someone you know suddenly has a seizure? Dr. Aaron Heide is a neurologist and director of telemedicine and stroke services at Saint Mary's. He is my guest in tonight's Ask the Doctor segment. He's taking your calls between 5-6PM.  To speak with him tonight, dial 858-2222.  For future questions, call 775-770-6465 or visit

What is a seizure?

A seizure is the physical findings or changes in behavior that occur after an episode of abnormal electrical activity in the brain. The term "seizure" is often used interchangeably with "convulsion." Convulsions occur when a person's body shakes rapidly and uncontrollably. During convulsions, the person's muscles contract and relax repeatedly. There are many different types of seizures. Some have mild symptoms without shaking.

What are the typical symptoms of a seizure?

Specific symptoms depend on what part of the brain is involved. Symptoms occur suddenly and may include:

·         Brief blackout followed by a period of confusion (the person cannot remember for a short time)

·         Drooling or frothing at the mouth

·         Eye movements

·         Loss of bladder or bowel control

·         Shaking of the entire body

·         Sudden falling

·         Teeth clenching

·         Uncontrollable muscle spasms with twitching and jerking limbs

What are some causes of a seizure?

Sometimes no cause can be found. This is called idiopathic seizures. They are usually seen in children and young adults, but can occur at any age. If seizures continue repeatedly after the underlying problem is treated, the condition is called epilepsy. Other causes may include:

·         Stroke

·         Very high blood pressure or heart disease

·         Brain tumor or brain infection

·         Drug abuse

·         Abnormal levels of glucose or sodium in the blood

If someone is having a seizure, what should you do to prevent them from injuring themselves?

·         Try to prevent a fall. Lay the person on the ground in a safe area. Clear the area of furniture or other objects.

·         Cushion the person's head.

·         Loosen tight clothing, especially around the neck.

·         Turn the person on the side. If vomiting occurs, this helps make sure that the vomit is not inhaled into the lungs.

·         Do not restrain (try to hold down) the person.

·         Do not place anything between the person's teeth during a seizure (including your fingers).

Contact a medical professional if this is the first time someone has had a seizure, lasts more than 2-5 minutes, the person does not awaken or have normal behavior afterwards, another seizure starts soon after a seizure ends or if the person is pregnant, injured, or has diabetes.
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