This website is best viewed in Internet Explorer 8 or above. You are currently using an old version of Internet Explorer. Please click on this link to update your browser.

0808 800 2200

A to Z of Epilepsy - P

 

  1. A
  2. B
  3. C
  4. D
  5. E
  6. F
  7. G
  8. H
  9. I
  10. J
  11. K
  12. L
  13. M

  14. N
  15. O
  16. P
  17. Q
  18. R
  19. S
  20. T
  21. U
  22. V
  23. W
  24. X
  25. Y
  26. Z

 

P

Close All Open All

Paediatrician
A paediatrician is a consultant doctor who treats children.
Panic

Some people experience feelings of panic or fear during a simple partial seizure, which can be sudden and intense. Other people can experience feelings of panic during a complex partial seizure.

Feeling anxious and stressed about their epilepsy can also lead to feelings of panic. A GP will be able to help further with this. For more information on how stress and anxiety can affect seizures, see our Epilepsy and stress factsheet.

Parenting

Epilepsy often starts in childhood and can affect children of all ages and abilities. Some types of seizure are more common in children and teenagers such as absence and myoclonic seizures.

If your child has had an episode that the GP thinks could be epilepsy, a referral will be made to see a consultant doctor at the hospital. The doctor will be able to tell you what the outlook is for your child.

Check out our comprehensive information resource for parents.  Our Guide for teachers contain further useful information which is relevant for parents.

We also have two storybooks, suitable for 3-7 year olds: one explaining the process of diagnosis, and one explaining epilepsy to a child, who may have a family member with epilepsy.  If your child is of primary school age, the guide So... what is epilepsy? may help to explain this condition to your child.  Please also check out our teen guide for 13-19 year olds with epilepsy.

Parietal Lobes
The parietal lobes are a particular part of the brain. This part of the brain controls touch, interpretation and body position. Partial seizures can occur in this part of the brain.
Partial seizures

Partial seizures affect one area of the brain. This part of the brain may have been malformed or damaged in some way, such as a head injury or infection like meningitis. Partial seizures can be either simple or complex. A partial seizure starting in one part of the brain can sometimes spread to the whole of the brain. This is called a secondary generalised seizure.

During a simple partial seizure you can experience a brief feeling of fear, panic, déjà vu, or a particular taste, sight or smell. Equally, it might be numbness or a twitching or tingling sensation in one part of your body. In some people, a simple partial seizure will be followed by a second seizure. The simple partial seizure acts as a warning or ‘aura’ that another seizure could happen. This will allow the person to get to a safe place.

During a complex partial seizure you may experience strange and unusual feelings and lose your sense of time. You may become unresponsive or switched off to what is going on around you. You may make inappropriate or automatic movements. These can include plucking at clothing, lip smacking, slurred speech, repeating words, head turning, wandering aimlessly, running or undressing. During this time, you may become hostile if people try to restrain you or approach you in a way that seems to you to be aggressive.

For more information on different types of seizures see Seizures explained

Personal accident insurance
You should not be charged extra for insurance just because you have epilepsy. The insurance company may, however, ask questions about your epilepsy including the number and type of seizures. They may decide to charge more depending on the risks involved with your epilepsy. Contact our helpline if you have any problems getting insurance.
Petit-mal

This is a french word that means ‘little illness’. It is an older name for absence seizures. This term is not used now.

Absence seizures are more common in children, although adults may have them too. If you have an absence seizure you lose awareness for a short time. This could be seconds or minutes. This happens because the seizure activity involves the whole brain. You may stop what you are doing, be still and stare into space. It may look like you are day dreaming or you may carry on walking but change direction and walk into danger. It can help if people around you are able to recognise when you are having an absence seizure. They can stay with you, keep you safe and tell you what happened when you recover. Some of these seizures can be hard to notice. Girls tend to have more absence seizures than boys. Some children can have lots of absence seizures every day. If a child is having frequent absence seizures they could miss parts of lessons at school.  There is more information on this in our Teachers guide.

For more information see our Seizures explained guide or contact our helpline.

Phenobarbital

Phenobarbital is a generic drug used to treat tonic-clonic, myoclonic and partial seizures. A common brand name for this drug is Primidone.

Side effects are a concern for many people with epilepsy. Most people, who do experience side effects, find that they are mild and may reduce as their body becomes used to the medication. It is important to discuss any concerns you have regarding side effects with your doctor.

Possible side effects for Phenobarbital include drowsiness, sedation, mental slowing, aggression, depression and behavioural problems in children.

With all anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs) it is important to make sure you get the same make each time. There can be small differences between different versions or makes of each drug. A different make can trigger a seizure for some people. If the packaging of your AEDs looks different speak to you pharmacist, epilepsy specialist nurse, GP or consultant about this. There is more information on AEDs in our Epilepsy and treatment guide.

Phenytoin

Phenytoin is a generic drug used to treat tonic-clonic and partial seizures. A common brand name for this drug is Epanutin.

Side effects are a concern for many people with epilepsy. Most people, who do experience side effects, find that they are mild and may reduce as their body becomes used to the medication. It is important to discuss any concerns you have regarding side effects with your doctor.

Possible side effects for phenytoin can include skin rash, drowsiness, unsteadiness, slurred speech, headaches, overgrowth of the gums, acne-like symptoms or coarsening of features.

With all anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs) it is important to make sure you get the same make each time. There can be small differences between different versions or makes of each drug. A different make can trigger a seizure for some people. If the packaging of your AEDs looks different speak to you pharmacist, epilepsy specialist nurse, GP or consultant about this. There is more information on AEDs in our Epilepsy and treatment guide.

Phones - Mobile

There is no direct evidence that mobile phones affect epilepsy. The Independent Expert Group on Mobile Phones produced the ‘Stewart report’ in 2000 which found that there is now some early scientific evidence that exposures to radio frequency (RF) radiation may cause subtle effects on biological functions, including those of the brain. This does not necessarily mean that health is affected but it is not possible to say that exposure to RF radiation, even at levels below national guidelines, will never have adverse health effects.

A new research programme, called the Link Mobile Telecommunications and Health Research Programme (MTHR), has been set up to look into the possible health impact of mobile phones.

So far this new research has not found any harmful effects from the use of mobile phones, but the work is still in progress.

Phonology
The study of speech sounds (phonemes) and how they are used.
Psychopharmocotherapy
Medication used to treat behavioural and psychiatric disorders.
Photosensitive epilepsy

Photosensitive epilepsy is a type of epilepsy where seizures are triggered by flashing or flickering lights, or repetitive patterns. However, less than five per cent of people with epilepsy have photosensitive epilepsy. If you do not have photosensitive epilepsy, flashing or flickering lights will not make you photosensitive or cause epilepsy.

Television is the most common trigger. LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) screens are safe as they do not flicker. Most modern TVs, computers and all laptops have this screen. However, an LCD screen does not protect you from the content of the programme or the computer game. If the programme or game contains flashing or flickering lights it can still trigger a seizure.

The most common flash rates that produce seizures are between 12 and 24 flashes per second. If you have an old style TV or computer screen, set the refresh rate of the screen as high as possible.

Photosensitive epilepsy more often affects children and young people. Girls are more likely to be affected than boys.

Our factsheet on Photosensitive Epilepsy has more information like this. For the most uptodate information contact our helpline.

Pill reminders
Some people find alarms and special boxes can help them to remember to take their tablets at the right time.
Pins and needles (paraesthesia)
Some people experience pins and needles (paraesthesia) in one or more limbs during a simple partial seizure. This can be a warning sensation that you are about to have a seizure. This sensation can spread upwards, for example from the toes to the hip or from the fingers to the shoulder and then the face.
Piracetam

Piracetam is a general drug used to treat myoclonic seizures. A common brand name for this drug is Nootropil.

All drugs can have possible side effects. Those for piracetam include dizziness, insomnia, nausea, stomach pain, weight gain, and agitation.

With all anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs) it is important to make sure you get the same make each time. There can be small differences between different versions or makes of each drug. A different make can trigger a seizure for some people. If the packaging of your AEDs looks different speak to you pharmacist, epilepsy specialist nurse, GP or consultant about this. There is more information on AEDs in our Epilepsy and treatment guide.

Poly-cystic ovarian syndrome/disease (PCOD/PCOS)

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is also called polycystic ovarian disease (PCOD). It is a condition that can affect hormone levels in the blood. A woman affected by this condition does not ovulate (i.e. release an egg) regularly and this affects fertility. Other symptoms include irregular periods, weight gain and male pattern hair growth.

PCOS is more common in women with epilepsy than in women who don’t have epilepsy. There is evidence to suggest that taking the epilepsy drug sodium valproate (Epilim) increases the chance of developing PCOS, especially if it is taken before the age of 20. It is thought that epilim-related PCOS stops once you stop taking the tablets. If you have concerns about PCOS, you should speak to your doctor or epilepsy specialist nurse.

Post-ictal
This is a medical term for the time after a seizure.
Pre-conception counselling and planning a pregnancy

Most women who have epilepsy have a normal pregnancy and a healthy baby. If you have epilepsy and you want to have a baby you should talk to your doctor before getting pregnant. They will make sure that the anti-epileptic drugs you take will not damage your baby. The UK Epilepsy and Pregnancy Register has further information on the risks of epilepsy medication in pregnancy. Call 0800 389 1248 to register your pregnancy or your plans to become pregnant and get further advice. 

If you find out you are pregnant or are planning to become pregnant, don't stop your medication without medical advice. If you abruptly stop your medication you may have a serious seizure that could damage your unborn baby.

Epilepsy should not stop you from becoming pregnant. In the general population, one in six people have fertility problems. People with epilepsy have a slightly higher chance of encountering these problems. There is more on this and other relevant subjects in our Women's guide to epilepsy.

If you can, plan your pregnancy in advance. Our Planning a family factsheet can give you more information on this. Talk to your GP, consultant and epilepsy specialist nurse. They can discuss treatment choices with you and give you advice before you are pregnant. This ‘pre-conception counselling’ gives you more time to improve seizure control before pregnancy and labour. If you are already pregnant, make an appointment to see your doctor as soon as possible.

 

Prescriptions – free
All prescriptions in Scotland are now free.
Primary Schools

Most children with epilepsy will be able to attend a mainstream school. They can achieve as much as their classmates and be fully involved in school life. It is important that you tell the school about your child’s epilepsy. This will enable the teachers to take care of your child if they have a seizure.

For more information see our Resource pack for parents and Epilepsy - a guide for teachers.

Prognosis
This is a medical term to describe the outlook for a patient. It can be used to describe the likely progression of an illness or the expected outcome.
Protective headgear

Some people who have drop attack seizures wear protective helmets. The most effective helmet is custom made suitable for the person's seizures. For example, if the person usually falls forward a helmet with a face guard, face bar, or visor may be suitable. If the person falls backward, the back of the head needs protection. An adjustable chin strap is advisable so the helmet stays on the head during a fall.

Your epilepsy specialist nurse, GP or neurologist will be able to advise you on the best type of helmet for you or your child, if you need one. Our helpline can also give you details of manufacturers of these specialist helmets.

Pseudo epileptic seizures

A better name to use is Non-epileptic seizures.  Check out our factsheet on Non-epileptic seizures.

Psychogenic seizures

A better name to use is Non-epileptic seizures . Check out our factsheet on Non-epileptic seizures.

Public transport – free bus pass

If you have had one seizure in the last 12 months, and are therefore unable to drive, you are entitled to a free Scotland-wide bus pass.  Please see Bus Pass (Free) for more details.