Did you know that 65 million people in the world have epilepsy?
Epilepsy is a common neurological disorder that can be managed with medications and other methods. Once you receive a diagnosis of epilepsy, there are multiple options available for treatment. These include taking prescribed medication, following a specific diet, using an implant that affects your nerves or brain, and undergoing surgery. All of these methods aim to improve your well-being and alleviate symptoms associated with epilepsy.
It is important to be aware of this neurological problem to be able to deal with it. First, you must know the basics of Epilepsy, its causes, symptoms, treatment, and diagnosis.
What is Epilepsy?
Epilepsy, also known as seizure disorder, is a type of brain condition that leads to unexpected and repetitive seizures. Seizures occur when there is a sudden burst of unusual electrical activity in the brain. Doctors identify epilepsy as a diagnosis when a person experiences two or more seizures without any apparent reason or identifiable cause.
A seizure happens when the brain cells have a sudden burst of uncontrolled electrical activity. It can cause different changes in your body and mind, like changes in awareness, muscle movements (such as twitching or jerking), feelings, emotions, and behavior. Epilepsy is a term used to describe a condition where a person has seizures regularly.
What are the Causes of Epilepsy?
In most cases, the causes of epilepsy cannot be determined. However, some factors that may contribute to this neurological condition are as follows.
1. Genetic Factor
Certain types of epilepsy have a strong genetic component. Mutations or variations in genes can make an individual more susceptible to seizures. In some cases, epilepsy may run in families.
2. Brain Injury
Any injury or damage to the brain can increase the risk of epilepsy. This includes traumatic brain injury resulting from accidents, falls, or sports-related injuries. Other causes of brain injury that can lead to epilepsy include strokes, brain tumors, infections (such as meningitis or encephalitis), and developmental disorders.
3. Developmental Disorders
Some developmental disorders, such as autism spectrum disorders and neurofibromatosis, are associated with an increased risk of epilepsy.
Certain infections that affect the brain, such as meningitis, encephalitis, or brain abscesses, can trigger epilepsy, particularly if they cause significant damage to the brain tissue.
5. Unknown Causes
In many cases, the cause of epilepsy may not be apparent. This is known as idiopathic epilepsy. Researchers believe that a combination of genetic and environmental factors may play a role in these cases.
What are the Symptoms of Epilepsy?
The symptoms of a seizure can be different depending on the type of seizure you have. Epilepsy is caused by specific activity in the brain, which means that seizures can affect any process happening in the brain. Some common symptoms of seizures include:
- A short period of confusion
- Staring into space
- Stiffness in muscles
- Uncontrollable jerking movements in arms and legs
- Loss of consciousness or awareness
- Psychological symptoms like feelings of fear, anxiety, or déjà vu
- Changes in your sense such as hearing, taste, smell, numbness, tingling, vision, and more
- Difficulties in speaking or understanding
- Upset stomach
- Sudden waves of heat or cold, and goosebumps
- Rubbing hands
- Chewing motions
- Sudden finger movements
How is Epilepsy Diagnosed?
Diagnosing epilepsy involves a series of steps to determine if someone has the condition. Here is a simplified explanation of how epilepsy is diagnosed:
1. Medical History
The doctor will ask questions about the person’s medical background, including any past health issues, family history of seizures, and descriptions of the episodes they are experiencing.
2. Description of Seizures
The person will need to describe their seizures in detail, such as the movements, sensations, or changes they feel during the episodes. This helps the doctor understand what is happening.
3. Physical Examination
A thorough physical exam will be conducted to check for any signs that may indicate a seizure disorder.
4. EEG (Electroencephalogram)
This is a painless test where small sensors are placed on the person’s scalp to measure the electrical activity of the brain. It helps the doctor see if there are any abnormal brain waves associated with epilepsy.
5. Imaging Tests
Special imaging tests like MRI or CT scans may be performed to take pictures of the brain. These images help the doctor look for any structural problems or brain abnormalities that could be causing the seizures.
How To Treat Epilepsy?
The primary way to treat epilepsy initially is by using special drugs called antiseizure medication. These medications are specifically made to lower the number and intensity of seizures. However, it’s important to note that they cannot halt a seizure that is already happening, and they do not provide a permanent solution for epilepsy.
When you take these medications, they get absorbed in your stomach and then travel through your bloodstream to reach your brain. Once in the brain, they act on certain chemicals called neurotransmitters, which help regulate the electrical signals in your brain. By doing so, they help decrease the abnormal electrical activity that triggers seizures.
Some of the medications that can be taken upon doctors’ prescription include Tegral Tablets, Teril Tablets, Keppra Tablets, and Lamictal Tablets. Make sure you consult your doctor before consuming these medicines. The doctor will adjust your dose according to your need and condition.
2. Ketogenic Diet
A ketogenic diet is a high-fat, low-carbohydrate, and adequate-protein diet that is beneficial for some individuals with epilepsy, particularly children. The ketogenic diet helps induce a metabolic state called ketosis, which may reduce seizure activity.
3. Surgical Procedure
In some cases where seizures originate from a specific area of the brain, surgery may be considered. The aim is to remove or disconnect the affected brain tissue to prevent seizures.
The Bottom Line
Epilepsy cannot be completely cured. However, with well-managed epilepsy and using the right medications, it can be controlled. You must speak to your doctor if you experience any abnormal behavior, new symptoms, or severe seizures. Diagnosing epilepsy can take time and requires a combination of information from medical history, tests, and evaluations. It is important to remember that a proper diagnosis is necessary to develop an effective treatment plan. Therefore, you must consult with a neurologist to determine the most suitable treatment plan based on the individual’s condition, seizure types, and overall health.