Condition: Epilepsy – Adult/Child

A seizure is caused by abnormal electrical activity in the brain resulting in a short disturbance of consciousness, muscle function, sensations, behaviour, emotions, or a combination of these.

Seizures can be classified as generalised (where the electrical activity affects all of the brain) or focal (where the electrical activity stays in one part of the brain).

High temperatures, low oxygen levels, low blood sugar levels or poisons can cause a seizure.

Epilepsy however is defined by having at least two unprovoked seizures more than 24 hours apart. 1 in 100 people have epilepsy in the UK.

In generalised seizures the symptoms tend to involve the whole body and are accompanied by impaired consciousness. Types of generalised seizure are defined by their symptoms:

  • Tonic seizures – stiffening of the body;
  • Clonic seizures – jerking movements due to uncontrolled muscle contractions;
  • Tonic-clonic seizures – the most common generalised seizure. Involves stiffening of the body with jerking movements;
  • Absence seizures – brief loss of consciousness without changes to body tone or movements;
  • Atonic seizures – body becomes limp and associated with falls;
  • Myoclonic seizures – brief, sudden contraction of muscles.

Focal seizures depend on which part of the brain they start in:

  • Focal motor seizures – jerking movement beginning in the hand and traveling up the arm or specific movements including head turning, eye movements and lip smacking;
  • Focal sensory seizures – disturbances of one of either: sensations, emotions or behaviour.

People often experience symptoms after seizure including drowsiness, memory-impairment, injury and aching arms or legs.

In many people no cause for epilepsy can be identified.

Some people with epilepsy are susceptible to seizures after specific triggers including:

  • Stress;
  • Sleep deprivation;
  • Low blood sugar levels;
  • Strobe lighting;
  • Alcohol excess;
  • Infections

In addition to a thorough history and examination other investigations are useful in helping diagnose epilepsy as other conditions may mimic seizures.

Blood tests and cardiovascular assessments such as ECGs, blood pressure monitoring and an echocardiogram can help rule out cardiac and metabolic causes for loss of consciousness.

An Electroencephalograph (EEG) can be used to record electrical activity of the brain. A normal test does not rule out epilepsy.

Brain scans using computer tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and positron emission tomography (PET) can all be used to examine for specific underlying brain abnormalities.

Epilepsy – Adult/Child Treatment

GPs are encouraged to refer to a neurology specialist with expertise in epilepsy to instigate treatment. The mainstays of treatment are anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs).

The type of epilepsy, age, biological sex and other medications affect the first-line AED for each person. More specialist treatments can include surgery and vagal nerve stimulation.

Medicinal cannabis can be considered when first line therapies have not achieved adequate seizure control.

Arrange an Appointment

If you are a patient or carer seeking an appointment to discuss treatment with medical cannabis, you can complete this form and we can assist you with this.

Eligible patients can provide us with their healthcare records or we can obtain these through your GP. This is to confirm that a patient’s condition has been fully assessed and all other treatment options have been attempted. We will ensure that the primary care provider receives all treatment communication to maintain the highest level of clinical governance.

We also accept referrals from healthcare professionals.

To refer a patient to us, please click here to fill and securely submit a referral form.