Rethinking Seizure Care Blog

Epilepsy Can Affect Four Body Systems

Posted by RSC Diagnostics on Apr 23, 2019

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Anyone who suffers from epilepsy or has a loved one with epilepsy knows that it can take a massive toll on the body. Although epilepsy is a brain disorder, you will find there are many body systems affected. Millions of people around the world are affected by this disorder. Since seizures are unpredictable, the disorder takes both a physical and emotional toll. The following are four body systems affected by epilepsy.

1. The Central Nervous System

Naturally, this is one of the body systems greatly affected by epilepsy. The brain is a part of this system and it controls your body’s voluntary and involuntary movements. Seizures are caused when abnormal electrical signals in the brain interrupt the brain’s normal functionality. The symptoms a person experiences depends on which part of the brain is involved in the seizure. Examples include nausea, sweating, loss of consciousness, lack of awareness about what is happening, screaming, crying, laughing or lip smacking.  

2. The Respiratory System

Those who suffer from epileptic seizures might find that they have trouble with breathing. In some cases, patients might find that they cough more often than usual or that they have shortness of breath. While it is rare, it is even possible for some patients to choke because of issues breathing. In some cases of Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy (SUDEP), issues with breathing could be responsible.

3. The Muscular System

Another body system affected by epilepsy is the muscular system. Some types of seizures will change a person’s muscle tone during the seizure. A tonic seizure, for example, will cause the person’s muscles to lock up in a rigid position during the seizure. Someone who suffers from an atonic seizure will have the opposite problem, their muscles will go limp.

The unpredictable nature of seizures, makes it easy to understand why they can be dangerous. Someone who has a seizure runs the risk of falling and injuring themselves.

4. The Reproductive System 

Epilepsy does not directly affect the reproductive system and it is certainly possible for a woman who suffers from seizures to become pregnant. However, epilepsy can still affect those who are pregnant. Women who have epilepsy and are pregnant tend to have a higher number of seizures during pregnancy. Approximately 15-30% of pregnant women with epilepsy experience an increase in their seizure activity. This could potentially affect the baby when you consider the danger of falls, for example. Additionally, if you take antiseizure medications, you will need to be made aware if they can be potentially harmful to your growing baby. Always discuss your medications with your doctor, especially before you plan to become pregnant.  

To learn more about managing your epilepsy during pregnancy read our blogs:

Good News for Pregnant Moms Taking Certain Antiepileptic Drugs

Prenatal Exposure to Valproate Lowers School Performance

Epilepsy and Pregnancy: Should I take My AEDs during My Pregnancy?

If you or a loved one suffers from seizures, it is a good idea to have an overall understanding of the body systems that can be affected by epilepsy. Keep in mind that no two epileptic patients are alike. Always speak with your doctor about the best course of action for controlling your seizures.



Topics: Seizure Symptoms