Orginal Publication Date
MCV/Q, Medical College of Virginia Quarterly
Seizures are a symptom and not a disease. A seizure is the result of an abnormal electrical discharge of a collection or group of living but damaged or abnormal neurons. When the group of neurons is in the cerebral cortex, a focal or partial seizure occurs, producing abnormal activity related to that part of the brain. The victim may experience a focal jerking or focal numbness, or flashing lights if the lesion is in the occipital lobe; or he or she may be subject to peculiar automatic behavior if the lesion is in the temporal lobe. When the activity spreads to the central portions of the brain in the thalamus and upper brain stem, neurons in this area discharge, producing unconsciousness and a generalized convulsive or generalized nonconvulsive seizure. Abnormality of neurons in the central part of the brain (centrencephalic system) will, of course, produce generalized seizures without a focal beginning. Despite the fact that a seizure is only a symptom, many persons, including physicians, find seizures frightening and there is almost a reflex reaction to stop the seizure at all costs. For this reason, individual episodes of seizures are often over-treated with sedative and anticonvulsive drugs without due regard to the underlying disease, and without an orderly plan of drug therapy.
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