The World Health Organisation advises that ˜epilepsy is the worlds most common serious brain disorder', and more than 1 in 10 Australian has or is in direct contact with seizures (Northern District Times 2002).
This essay gives a definition of seizure disorders, and in particular epilepsy. The aetiology of epilepsy will be described, and a description of normal CNS function. The pathophysiology, which will describe the abnormal CNS function which occurs during seizure will be given, and an explanation of the various types of partial and generalised seizures, including their signs, symptoms. A description of the prehospital care will be given as well as a rationale for the treatment.
A seizure is an episode of abnormal neurologic function caused by an abnormal discharge of brain neurons which is experienced by the patient, while epilepsy is a ˜clinical condition in which the individual is subject to recurrent seizures' (Tintinalli J. 2000).
Flaningham G. (n.d.) writes that the aetiology of epilepsy is still not fully understood. Epilepsy is believed to occur due to a number of causes (Kidd & Wagner 1997), where Porth (2002) writes that it is not a disease, but a symptom which occurs due to an underlying central nervous system (CNS) dysfunction where almost any injury or serious illness affecting the brain which can include infections, tumors, drug abuse, vascular lesions, cogenital deformities and brain injury can cause epileptic seizures.
Seizures can also be triggered by other stimuli including specific odours, noises, fatigue, hypoglycaemia, emotional stress, lack of sleep, fever, alcohol consumption, constipation, menstruation and hypoventilation (Kidd & Wagner 1997).
Seizures can either be referred to as primary (idiopathic) where no known cerebral lesion is present, or secondary, where a distinct cause is present and cerebral abnormalities are detected, such as head injury and brain tumors (