what is epilepsy?
Epilepsy means seizure disorder. It is a chronic central nervous system disorder in which the clusters of neurons in the brain behave irregularly or are disrupted causing periods of a strange sensation like seizure, abnormal behavior and sometimes loss of consciousness or awareness.
Epilepsy is a neurological disorder that is characterized by recurring seizures. A quick rush of electrical activity in the brain is called the seizures. Seizure is medical name of epilepsy.
People with epilepsy also suffer from some major psychological disorder such as depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts. An uncontrolled and extended seizure can lead to brain damage.
Causes of epilepsy:
The causes of epilepsy can be divided into two groups.
- Brain injuries
- Chemical imbalances in the brain
Anything that injures the brain can lead to seizures. But in over half the cases no cause can be identified. The type of injury that can lead to a seizure is age dependent.
Causes of seizures in children :
- Birth traumas
- Infections such as meningitis
- Congenital abnormalities
- High fever
Causes of seizures in middle years :
- Head injuries
- Stimulant drugs
- Medication side-effects
Causes of seizures in the elderly :
- Brain tumors
Cause a higher proportion of seizures:
Not all seizures resolve from structural problem in the brain, chemical imbalances that can produce seizures include drugs like alcohol, cocaine and others. Low blood sugar, low oxygen, low blood sodium, or low blood calcium, Kidney failure or liver failure can also produce seizures.
Types of seizures :
There are so many kinds of seizures that neurologists still updating to classify them. Usually the classified seizures into two main types:
- Partial seizures
- Primarily generalized seizures
Primarily generalized seizures:
Primarily generalized seizures began with the wide spread electrical discharge that involves both sides of brain atonce.
On the other hand partial seizures began with the electrical discharge in one limited area of the brain.
All generalized seizures began with sequins electrical activity throughout the brain. However there is still many different types of generalized seizures.
Tonic-clonic seizures: When someone experiences a tonic-clonicseizures , first he definite loss consciousness which is the panic phase. Then they began jerking and this lasts for 7 minutes called a clonic phase. Sometimes seizures don’t have a tonic stiffening and a clonic jerking sequence but it just tonic seizures or clonic seizures.
Other types of generalized seizures include absence seizures. When the sufferer disconnect from the world for few seconds.The myoclonic seizures which cause jerking but just for seconds.
Partial seizures which began in the single part of the brain are further described by two important additional criteria.
Simple partial seizure :
- Awareness preserved
- Memory preserved
- Consciousness preserved
They preserved during the seizure. If they all are preserved then the seizure is called simple partial seizure. However if any are impaired then the seizure is called complex partial seizure.
Risk factors of epilepsy or seizures:
Who’s at risk?
- Strong family history (like parent or sibling have epilepsy)
- Congenital brain malformation
- Low oxygen at birth
- Brain tumors
- Cerebral pausing
- Having a stroke
- Turmeric brain injury
In diagnosing epilepsy, the following procedure may be carried out:
- A blood test to check the level of glucose, liver, kidney functions and signs of infectious diseases.
- Brain scans which may help to find the cause of your seizures. The two most common ones are computerized axial tomography (CT Scan) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
- Position emission therapy that visualizes the active area of the brain and can detect abnormalities.
- In cases where MRI and EEG do not pinpoint the location in the brain where the seizure is occurring SPECT (single photon emission computerized tomography).
Treatment of epilepsy
In treating epilepsy:
- Medication is the first approach.
- In case if medication don’t treat the condition, surgery or another type of treatment may be proposed.
Side effects of epilepsy medications :
You and your family may notice that after taking your antiepileptic medication you may not seem exactly like yourself. You may notice:
- Mental fog
- Poor word finding
- Lethargy or drowsiness
Well these can be bothersome that not too uncommon and usually not something to worry about. On the other hand if you have:
- Leg swelling
- Difficulty controlling emotions
Consult your doctor immediately :
If you are senior or a women who may become pregnant.Please speak with your doctor before taking your tablets. You may need to take extra precautions to avoid serious side effects.
Safety precautions for epilepsy :
- Sleep is the first line of defense against epilepsy or seizures. So all patients with epilepsy need to sleep on time for at least 7 hours in a day.
- They also need to take their meals regularly.
- They should never miss their medicine .Each medicines has a specific duration of action beyond which the protection diminishes.
- Alcohol can trig seizures. Therefore alcohol needs to be avoided in all these patients.
- Seizures can be quite unpredictable. They may occur even while treatment.
- Therefore you should always pay attention to your surroundings for your safety.
- You should not indulge in any activity wherein the seizures might result in serious injuries to the patient.
- An epileptic patient should not drive.