A seizure is a sudden, brief attack caused by changes in the brain's electrical activity. It is quite common in people with a brain tumor. During a seizure, a person's brain cells misfire releasing electrical energy in an uncontrolled manner. This results in a sudden buildup of energy through the brain, causing unconsciousness and contractions of the muscles. The person may cry, become unconscious, or twitch involuntarily.
A seizure may develop due to a severe head injury, or a very high fever, or meningitis (brain infection). In people with a brain tumor, seizures can be caused due to increased pressure in the brain, stress, lack of sleep, altered medication levels, and scar tissue developed after surgery. Also, there are certain types of seizures whose causes are unknown.
Symptoms depend on the area of the brain that is affected. If the entire brain is affected, then the symptoms would be those of a generalized or grand mal seizure. When seizures appear to result from abnormal activity in just one area of the brain, then the symptoms would be those of a partial or focal seizure.
In a generalized seizure, the patient is completely unresponsive and may blink his eyes rhythmically. The patient often stiffens which is followed by convulsions. However, in the case of a partial seizure, only an isolated part of the body is affected such as one side of the face. Also, the patient may not necessarily become unconscious.
The diagnosis is difficult due to lack of obvious signs and non-availability of first-hand information from the patient. As the patient does not remember the seizure, it can be helpful to have information from someone who was witness to the seizure. Your doctor may order blood tests, scans (MRI and CT), and EEG (Electroencephalogram).
As seizures are common in patients with a brain tumor, anti-convulsion or antiepileptic medications form an essential component of a standard treatment plan. Seizures may continue despite the treatment but with reduced
severity and frequency. If satisfactory relief is not experienced with medications and the physical cause of the epilepsy is restricted to just one area of the brain, then epilepsy surgery may be considered as a treatment option.