To understand what a seizure is, you must first understand how the brain works. Your brain is comprised of thousands of neurons – cells that process and transmit information by interacting with each other. These interactions can be observed and assessed through an electroencephalogram (EEG).
In most brains, neuron interactions occur in a chaotic but balanced, orderly fashion with few disruptions. Occasionally, small disruptions (neuron misfires) may occur with little consequence. When multiple cells misfire at the same time – depending on the severity and location in the brain – it may cause muscle twitches and spasms. This is a seizure. A seizure is defined as a sudden, electrical discharge in the brain causing alterations in behavior, sensation, or consciousness.
Many believe that having a seizure equates to having epilepsy. Although the two terms are often used simultaneously, a seizure (which is a single occurrence) is different than epilepsy (which is defined as two or more unprovoked seizures).