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Old 08-31-2011, 01:26 AM   #1
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Differences between Tremors and Seizures?

As the title says, what is the difference between a tremor, which is attacking the whole body, and a conscious seizure?

When somebody has a tremor, do they still have control of the muscles, as such? Appose to when an seizure occurs, they have no control of the muscles? Or am I totally off base?

Thanks for any help you can provide.
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Old 08-31-2011, 03:39 AM   #2
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Try looking on WebMD.com that is a good medical site.
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Old 08-31-2011, 04:09 AM   #3
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I am not an expert, but I've had a bit of experience. With a seizure, the brain is misfiring which effects the consciousness. Even mild seizures, which just look like someone is daydreaming or "spaced out" impact the level of consciousness. I don't know if it is possible to have a conscious seizure or not, but I've never seen it. The serious seizures with violent physical reactions certainly result in impaired cognition.
Tremors, on the other hand, don't have to result in problems with consciousness.
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Old 08-31-2011, 04:52 AM   #4
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Tremors aren't a disease, they're a symptom. They can be a symptom of a huge variety of conditions, ranging from neurological ones like Parkinson's, stroke, head trauma, etc. or from other causes like low blood sugar or blood loss.

Seizures are a result of epilepsy, a disease. They are strictly neurological and caused by misfiring neurons in the brain. Sometimes people (and animals) can convulse or have tremors during a seizure.

You don't always lose consciousness during a seizure. During a partial seizure someone can retain consciousness, though not always and they are often impaired in some manner.
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Old 08-31-2011, 05:12 AM   #5
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Thanks guys,

So, I'm trying to understand what might occur (or what I can have occur in the story)

So it's possible to have tremors starting in the hands and the spread to the rest of the body; body shakes, but you still remain is some kind of control?
Which then leads to a seizure; the body shakes harder and you have no control over your movements, but can remain awake?

EDIT: Can I ask, has anyone had a conscious seizure? If so, would you be able to describe what happens? What are you feeling, thinking etc? I'm writing the story from the MC's POV, and I want to understand what it's like to have a seizure.
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Old 08-31-2011, 12:02 PM   #6
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Tremor and seizure aren't analogous. The word tremor is pretty broad and descriptive. It's an involuntary shaking. Seizure is pretty specific. It defines abnormal and uncontrolled electrical activity in the brain.

Seizures can cause involuntary shaking and the beginning of a seizure might look very much like a tremor that spreads, or a partial seizure (one where the person remains conscious) might only be noticable through the shaking it cause.

Tremors don't cause seizures. The causes of tremor can be many and varied, e.g. loss of dopamine in the extrapyramidal system causes a tremor in parkinsons. Damage to the cerebellum (the bit of the brain that fine tunes movement) causes a tremor when you try to do something. Hyperthyroidism can cause tremor by having too much of a stimulant hormone in your system. Infections can cause rigors or shaking. Even shivering is a type of tremor.

Unless the tremor is caused by a seizure, or capable of effecting the entire body (like rigors, or tremor in hyperthyroidism) it isn't going to spread beyond the affected area.

Your first step in incorporting a tremor / seizure into a scene is understanding why it's happening. You may already know the cause and need to define what would happen...or you might have something in mind and need a plasuible cause. A little more information about what your story needs would help narrow this down.

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Old 08-31-2011, 11:49 PM   #7
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Thinks for the reply, Craig.

I had intended the character to have a condition based on epilepsy – it would be a made up incurable condition (but not deadly – unless somebody died whilst having a seizure, or when into a coma etc), which affects about 10% of my supernatural race. I had intended it to be a hereditary condition as well.

I’ll explain what I had intended to happen, and if you could tell me if it would realistic or not that would be great – note that my story is supernatural, so I’m sure there could be some room to blur the lines a little?

The idea was for her to have seizures a couple of times a month – unless they were brought on by stress, lack of sleep etc. Mostly they’d be partial seizures, but on the occasion I’d have her pass out.

I had intended for her to have tremors too, starting in the hands, which would be a warning sign that more often than not a seizure wouldn’t be far off. At that point I’d have her take some meds, which would sometimes stop the seizure coming on.

I guess what I need to know is, if she were to have tremors, starting in the hands, would/could they spread to the rest of her body; arms, legs etc before a seizure? Or if the tremors spared, at this point would it be the beginning of the seizure?

And if the tremors can spread, how might another character spot the difference between tremors taking over most of her body, and her being hit with a partial seizure?

Lastly, after a partial seizure would/could I have her tremor a little afterwards too?

Thanks again.
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Old 09-01-2011, 12:00 AM   #8
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From what I understand, some people with epilepsy will experience an aura before a seizure episode. The actual aura experience will vary a lot depending on the part of the brain that is affected by the seizure. You might look into seeing if tremors might manifest during an aura.

One of my dogs has epilepsy, and he has an aura a day before and after an episode. He doesn't convulse during a seizure. They're absence seizures where he just totally blanks out for a bit. During the auras he gets very disoriented and wobbly, yelps randomly, etc. He has to wear a muzzle to prevent himself or others from getting injured when it's happening. It's very weird. When it first started happening we thought he was having a series of strokes.
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Old 09-01-2011, 03:03 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by -alex- View Post
The idea was for her to have seizures a couple of times a month – unless they were brought on by stress, lack of sleep etc. Mostly they’d be partial seizures, but on the occasion I’d have her pass out.
This is fine
A partial seizure effects only a part of the brain and may not cause loss of consciousness. A generalised seizure effects pretty much the whole brain and does cause loss of consciousness.

Quote:
Originally Posted by -alex- View Post

I had intended for her to have tremors too, starting in the hands, which would be a warning sign that more often than not a seizure wouldn’t be far off. At that point I’d have her take some meds, which would sometimes stop the seizure coming on.

.
This could be interpreted two ways, either;

your character has seizures and she also has another condition that causes tremors. If this is what you're saying then I can't think of a tremor condition that either warns you of a seizure or brings one on.

or

Your character's hands start to shake before she loses consciousness, but if she shakes it's likely she will lose consciousness if she doesn't take her meds. If this is what you mean then the tremor is a seizure so the seizure has already started. The electrical activity is just limiting itself to affecting muscles and so is a partial seizure. Partial seizures can progress to generalised ones. This is realistic and taking medication at this stage may well stop it progressing.

My neurology may be a little off but my instinct tells me the shaking is likely to be in one hand though, not both.



Quote:
Originally Posted by -alex- View Post

I guess what I need to know is, if she were to have tremors, starting in the hands, would/could they spread to the rest of her body; arms, legs etc before a seizure? Or if the tremors spared, at this point would it be the beginning of the seizure?

.
The shaking could spread before she loses consciousness if it is related to epilepsy. Tremor that isn't related to epilepsy doesn't spread in the same way.

Quote:
Originally Posted by -alex- View Post

And if the tremors can spread, how might another character spot the difference between tremors taking over most of her body, and her being hit with a partial seizure?

.
I think i may have answered this above. If the shaking is related to the epilepsy then it is a partial seizure. If she has a second condion that sometimes causes tremors that aren't related to epilepsy then it will be difficult to tell the difference from simple observation. In a hospital setting you'd hook her up to an EEG, measure brain electrical activity and tell that way.



Quote:
Originally Posted by -alex- View Post
Lastly, after a partial seizure would/could I have her tremor a little afterwards too?

.
In a seizure, when the abnormal electrical activity stops then the shaking stops.


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Old 09-01-2011, 03:41 AM   #10
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Thanks Craig! Awesome!

On last thing, guys:
Any idea where I might be able to find any written (or videos are fine) first hand accounts of people talking about living with seizures and their own experiences when having one?
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Old 09-01-2011, 02:01 PM   #11
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I don't know much about seizures, but I get tremors that are related to my headaches, or so they tell me. Mostly they are in my right hand, which can shake so badly that I can't pick anything up. Mostly it's not an issue, it doesn't hurt, it just means I have to be very careful when carrying hot drinks.

I also can't grip things for very long, my hand and arm go all sort of weak. Sometimes I get it in my leg as well, but not often.
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Old 09-01-2011, 07:17 PM   #12
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I knew someone who had petit mal seizures. She didn't remember them but she would know what happened when she came out of them. They lasted only seconds, so if she was walking, she appeared drunk.

I have seen a grand mal seizure. The lady was aware for a few seconds before it happened and had time to call for help to sit down before she fell. I don't know if this is typical though. She did not remember the seizure or calling for help. It lasted perhaps 30-45 seconds. When it was over, she did say, "I had another one, didn't I?"

My husband has early Parkinson's and he will get tremors where is right side, mainly his hand will shake. When that happens, he has permission to sit down at work (big box store) until it passes. He stays completely aware of it and it in no way affects his cognitive skills.
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Old 09-01-2011, 09:52 PM   #13
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I've had Essential (or Intention) Tremors most of my adult life. Mostly in my hands, though they say it could go to my face or effect my speech. The drugs they gave me didn't do a thing. Alcohol was the only thing that settled them. You can guess the rest.

When I finally tried to quit drinking (on my own) I had a seizure that lasted an hour. Or that's when I came to, with a gash in the top of my head. In the hospital, they decided to try a drug that they once used on seizures and now were experimenting with for tremors. Bingo! Tremors became manageable, no reason to drink. That was five years ago: no more seizures, no alcohol, and the tremors I can live with.

Hope this helps.
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Old 09-02-2011, 04:17 AM   #14
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Thanks guys.
I'll try to google about personal accounts, and see what I can find.
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Old 10-14-2011, 08:40 PM   #15
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If you are interested in seizuares, you can also look up TEA for Temporal Epilipic Absence. I have those. It is very weird, like I can get lost in my own street, knowing where I am, where i want to go and how to get there, but unable to actually do it. Only one thing to do, wait till it passes (up to 4 hours) or call one of my kids to come and pick me up.
First time it happens, it is really terrifying. Once you know what it is, it's just annoying...
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