Seizures are defined as sudden alteration of behavior, characterized by a sensory perception or motor activity without or with change in awareness or consciousness, due to aberrant cortical electrical activity. Partial seizures begin locally without impairment of consciousness, and with complex symptoms (with impairment of consciousness). Generalized seizures occur bilaterally, symmetrically and are without local onset. A third classification of seizures are unclassified epileptic seizures.
Causes of seizures include: Brain tumor, Cerebral hypoxia (breath holding, carbon monoxide poisoning, anesthesia), Cerebrovascular accident (infarct or hemorrhage), Convulsive or toxic agents (lead, alcohol, cocaine, camphor, chloraquine, pentylenetetrazol, picrotoxin, strychnine), Eclampsia (during pregnancy), Exogenous factors (sound, light, cutaneous stimulation), Head injury, Hyperpyrexia (acute infection, heat stroke),
Metabolic disturbances (hypoglycemia, hypoparathyroidism, phenylketonuria, uremia, hepatic failure, electrolyte abnormality) or Anaphylaxis (foreign serum or drug allergy).
Convulsions may also occur as a withdrawal symptom after chronic use of alcohol, hypnotics, or tranquilizers.
Conventional lab tests include serum tests for glucose, sodium, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, BUN, and ammonia; Anticonvulsant levels (inadequate level of anticonvulsant medication is the most common cause of recurrent seizures in children, and many adults); Drug and toxic screens (including alcohol); and a complete blood count (which may be helpful in evaluating infection).
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