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An epileptic seizure, occasionally referred to as a fit, is defined as a transient symptom of “abnormal excessive or synchronous neuronal activity” in the brain.

It comes in various forms and shows up as a fault somewhere in the complex electrical circuits of the brain and nervous system. This minor fault results in the brain being unable to work properly for a brief period.

In most cases the cause is unknown.  However, it can be caused by damage from previous infections, scars from previous head injuries, tumors, excessive alcohol or drugs use and genetic factors.

It is common and affects about 1 in 100 persons. Both sexes are equally susceptible.


Some people will experience generalised seizures while others have partial seizures with very unusual sensations.

In generalised seizure, patients suddenly become unconscious and fall to the ground.  Their bodies go stiff, and then may twitch or jerk briefly.  The tongue may be bitten and the bladder usually empties. They then may be drowsy or sleep for half an hour or so.

Some children may just stare for a brief period (absence seizures) or have sudden feelings of anxiety.

When one have seizure

Do not do these

  • move the person (unless necessary for safety)
  • force anything into the person’s mouth
  • try to stop the fit

Please do these :

  • roll the person on to his or her side with the head turned to one side and chin up
  • call for medical help if the convulsion lasts longer than 10 minutes or starts again


The convulsion itself will not cause death or brain damage  


Epilepsy can now be controlled with proper medication.  Most patients can achieve complete seizure control and they can lead a normal life, get married with normal sexual life and have normal children.


Identify and avoid triggering factors such as fatigue, physical exhaustion, stress, lack of sleep and excess alcohol.


Those who are known to have epilepsy are advised to be careful when driving, doing sport and leisure activities such as scuba diving, swimming alone, rock climbing and others.

Please ensure that your epilepsy is under controlled. It is advisable to have some one with you during those activities.


It is important to have proper medical treatment to help lead a full and normal life and your medications should be taken regularly.

Regular checkups are needed to watch for any side effects of the medicine (anti convulsion) and blood tests to check medication levels.


  1. John Murtagh’s Patient Education, Fifth edition, page 243.
  2. John Murtagh, General Practice, Third Edition, page 1272-1279.
Last Reviewed : 31 May 2012
Content Writer : Dr. Norizzati Bukhary bt. Ismail Bukhary
Accreditor : Dr. Rosnah bte. Ramly/td>