Epilepsy is a condition which is oft en confused with other conditions.
2. Psychogenic seizures
3. Breath holding spells
4. Febrile convulsions
8. Tourette’s syndrome
1. Fainting: Fainting is a temporary loss of consciousness. Unlike a seizure, the person who faints usually regains alertness soon after regaining consciousness. Fainting is caused by a temporary decrease in the brain’s blood supply. It mostly results from an abnormal reflex. The heart pumps more forcefully and the blood vessels relax, but the heart rate does not compensate fast enough to maintain the flow resulting in fainting. The main distinguishing point is that it has a short duration of loss of consciousness and that the person is not confused after the fainting.
2. Psychogenic seizures: These are seizures which look like epileptic seizures, but they are caused by a psychological disturbance. One of the types of psychogenic seizures is known as hysteria. People who experience a hysteric attack often lose self-control due to an overwhelming emotion such as fear or anger. This can happen in events where crowds are excited into a state of frenzy. This may lead to mass hysteria, hyperventilating (breathing fast) and consequently the brain gets less oxygen. Once the level of oxygen goes down, people can have a seizure which looks like an epileptic seizure, when it’s really a hysteria attack.
3. Breath holding spells: This could occur when a young child cries intensely, mostly after some minor upset, and holds their breath, leading to a lose in consciousness and getting limp. The attack mostly takes 30 to 60
seconds. With longer spells, the eyes might roll up; the entire body may become rigid and jerk, as the lack of oxygen to the brain actually triggers a seizure. Although the seizure looks like an epilepsy seizure, the child may not have epilepsy.
4. Febrile convulsions: This is a convulsion that is caused by a rise in body temperature common among children aged 6 months to 6 years. This is not necessarily epilepsy but a temporary condition which needs to be examined by a doctor.
5. Daydreaming: Daydreaming can be easily confused with an epileptic seizure; however, while lip smacking, eye blinking, or stiffening of muscle groups is common during seizures, they are not common during daydreaming. Daydreaming can be stopped by calling the person’s name,
making a startling noise, touching or tickling the person. However if it is an epilepsy seizure, then the person will not respond until the seizure passes.
6. Sleepwalking: During sleepwalking the person is completely unaware of what is happening, and it is understandable that people confuse it with epilepsy, as it presents like some types of seizures. It is important to know that sleepwalking can also happen to people who do not have epilepsy.
7. Tics: Tics are brief, involuntary, and repetitive movements. The most common tics are eye blinks, facial grimaces, shoulder shrugs, and head movements. Although people can make the same movements during an epileptic seizure, these tics are not necessarily caused by epilepsy.
8. Tourette’s syndrome : Someone with Tourette’s syndrome ha s a specific type of tic which is chronic repetitive movements and voice tics. The voice tics range from grunts and throat-clearing sounds to involuntary cursing and other embarrassing noises. These tics are also commonly confused with epilepsy.
9. Diabetes: People with diabetes usually have low or high blood sugar; this can trigger a seizure which looks like an epileptic convulsive seizure. Even though the first aid they need during the convulsive seizure is the same, people with diabetes require a different medical treatment from that given to people with epilepsy.