When seizures occur, abnormal electrical activity has suddenly occurred within the brain, causing physical disruptions within the body. Approximately 10 percent of the population will experience at least one seizure, although sometimes they are so mild that they go undetected. In most cases, seizure episodes last no longer than 30 seconds to 2 minutes, although they may be shorter or longer.
Seizures are often a sign of an underlying problem, such as epilepsy, brain trauma, brain infections or a brain tumor. It is recommended that individuals who have experienced one or more seizures visit a neurologist for a complete evaluation. If a seizure lasts longer than 5 minutes, however, immediate emergency medical attention is required.
Seizures are most frequently associated with a loss of consciousness and full-body shaking or convulsions. Although these types of spasms are a sign that a person is having a seizure, some seizures do not cause convulsions, nor do they cause a loss of consciousness. Instead, they may only cause muscle stiffness or repetitious jerking movements isolated to specific areas of the body. Many people never experience more than one seizure, whereas others develop a condition of chronic seizures called epilepsy.
Seizures by themselves are usually not life-threatening, although they require evaluation from a neurologist. In some cases, prescription medications may be recommended to reduce the frequency and severity of seizures in epileptic patients.