First Aid Basics: What is Epilepsy?

All too often people completely misunderstand and irrationally fear epilepsy. Epilepsy is not a disease. It is a condition caused by a chemical and electrical imbalance in the brain. People have the ability to deal with a number of  stimuli which trigger electric impulses to our brain, for example light, heat etc. In a nut shell each person cerebral stimuli threshold is unique and allow for different numbers of electric impulses at any given time. If the person has an extremely low threshold and experiences more stimuli than he or she can handle , a burst of electric activity in the brain will occur. The brain then undergo’s massive chemical changes which leads to seizures which is the epileptic fit.

A single fit doesn’t normally pose danger to the brain or body, however if a person experiences epileptic fits on a regular basis precautions must be taken and medication should be prescribed. Fits can vary in form and intensity. There are two forms, either a Petit Mal  (small) seizures or Grand Mal ( big) seizures. The average time of a Grand Mal seizure rarely  exceeds 4 or 5 minutes. It will generally consist of 2 stages, tonic cramp or stiffness stage and a chronic cramp stage or hyperactivity of muscles and jerking movements.  Generally the person will be unconscious during both of these stages. The jerking will slow and consciousness will be regained. The patient will in all likelihood not remember the incident.

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