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Understanding the Difference between stroke and Seizure

Understanding the Difference between Stroke and Seizure

May 20th, 2022

Seizure and stroke are neurological conditions that affect the brain. But, due to the similarities of their symptoms, they tend to be mistaken for each other. It’s important to know the differences between them, and that is what this article seeks to address.


What is a Stroke?

A stroke is a neurological condition in which there is a shortage of the amount of blood the brain is getting. A stroke can be lifelong in most cases, but on a few occasions, it can be transient. Some of its symptoms include:

  • Dizziness
  • Numbness on one side of the body (usually the arm, leg, or face)
  • Loss of vision in one or both eyes
  • Loss of coordination
  • Fainting
  • Trouble speaking or understanding speech


The most common causes of stroke are hemorrhages or blood clots.


What is a Seizure?

A seizure is a sudden disruption or abnormal overload of the brain’s electrical activity. Seizures can cause behavioral changes, haphazard movements, and a switch in one’s level of consciousness.

Depending on the seizure type, there can be little or no symptoms before an episode. Symptoms of seizures include:

  • Muscle-jerking movements in the arms and legs
  • Dizziness
  • Severe headaches
  • Breathing problems
  • Sudden blackouts
  • Staring spells
  • Stiffening of the body
  • Loss of bowel control


Seizures can be caused by infections, abnormalities in the brain, and even genetic ancestry. However, if a seizure occurs more than twice with no known cause, the condition may be termed epilepsy.


Differences between Seizure and Stroke

Seizures and strokes have similar symptoms, but there’s a world of difference between them! Here are some of them:

1.   Nature of the condition:

A stroke is a disruption of blood flow to the brain, while a seizure is an electrical surge within the brain. During a stroke, the brain stops functioning. During a seizure, the brain simply overreacts. Despite a loss of consciousness, there will be body vibrations and drooling, meaning that although it’s malfunctioning, the brain is still working.


2.   A stroke can cause a seizure but not vice versa:

A disruption in blood flow to the brain can cause brain cells to send out abnormal electrical signals which can result in a butterfly effect and cause a seizure. On the other hand, electrical signals in the brain do not affect blood flow and cannot cause strokes.


3.   Effects on the body:

A stroke is likely to cause severe paralysis and in one out of ten cases, death. For seizures, the body is hardly damaged (except by external factors such as sharp objects), and death only happens in rare cases.

4.   Method of treatment:

Stroke is usually linked to blood-related issues. Thus, the most effective way of fighting a stroke is to find the exact cause and tackle it. Seizures, on the other hand, can be treated by the use of anti-seizure medications.

5.   Warning signs:

The warning signs of a stroke are harder and almost impossible to spot when compared to those of seizures. Seizures have three stages of warning signs which can prepare the patient for the eventuality. A stroke is sudden and oftentimes has no warning signs.


Final words

Despite these differences, both illnesses are related to the brain. Hence, they can’t be taken lightly. If you notice anyone having a stroke or seizure, get help from the nearest health center ASAP.


One other important thing to note when calling for help is that you should not attempt to move the patient at all. Until a medical practitioner is present, keep all sharp objects away from them.


Our primary healthcare clinic is open 24/7 to attend to your health. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us for inquiries, recommendations, advice, or consultations with a medical practitioner.


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