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Your Guide to Epilepsy

epilepsy explained
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Epilepsy is a neurological disorder, in which the activity in the brain becomes abnormal causing recurrent episodes of seizures. As per WHO, epilepsy is a non-communicable disorder that affects approximately 50 million people worldwide. Epilepsy can affect males and females, of all ethnic backgrounds and ages. It can affect a person’s brain in such a manner that it sometimes leads to the individual showing unusual behavior, and sensations.
Dr. Rajeev Gupta, explains all you need to know about Epilepsy, its types, causes, symptoms, and treatment available.

Overview

A brain illness called epilepsy is characterized by recurring seizures. These seizures are typically characterized by an abrupt shift in behavior brought on by a transient disturbance in brain function. The brain normally continually produces minute electrical impulses in an organized pattern, but in people with epilepsy, the electrical rhythms of the brain have a propensity to become unbalanced, which causes unwelcome repeated seizures. It indicates that a person’s consciousness, motions, or sensations may be affected by the disruption of the brain’s usual rhythm caused by sudden alterations in the small electrical impulses.

Symptoms of Epilepsy

Seizures can be triggered by any abnormal activity in the brain. Below are some signs and symptoms to keep a note of

  • Stiff muscles
  • Uncontrollable jerking movements of hands and legs
  • Feeling of confusion
  • Loss of consciousness
  • No awareness of what is going around
  • Staring spell
  • Feeling of fear, anxiety and Deja vu

Every individual is different and the symptoms do vary depending on the type of the seizure.

Causes of Epilepsy

Epilepsy has no identifiable cause but the condition may also be traced according to various factors.

Abnormalities in the brain

Epilepsy can be brought on by abnormalities in the brain, such as brain tumours or vascular anomalies including arteriovenous malformations (AVMs) and cavernous malformations.

Genetic impact

Sometimes epilepsy runs in families and is classified by the sort of seizure the patient might have had.

Head trauma

Head trauma can be a result of a car accident or any major injury which causes epilepsy.

Infections

There are several infections that can affect the brain and cause epilepsy like meningitis, HIV, viral encephalitis, and some parasitic infections

Prenatal injury

Before birth and even after birth the brains of the babies are very sensitive. There are several factors that can cause epilepsy such as infection in the moth, oxygen deficiencies and malnourishment.

Developmental disorders

Epilepsy can be caused due to developmental disorders like autism.

Diagnosis

To diagnose, the doctor will review all the symptoms and signs and understand your medical history. He will recommend several tests to diagnose and detect epilepsy and determine the cause of the seizures. Below are some tests that may help diagnose.

A neurological exam

This test will help assess behavior, motor abilities, and mental function to determine the type of epilepsy the patient may have.

Blood tests

Your doctor could request a sample of your blood to look for indications of infections, genetic disorders, or other problems that could be related to seizures.
Additionally, your doctor might recommend testing to look for abnormalities in the brain like:

  • Electroencephalogram (EEG)
  • High-density EEG
  • Computerized tomography (CT) scan
  • Positron emission tomography (PET)
  • Single-photon emission computerized tomography (SPECT).
  • Neuropsychological tests

After the diagnosis, the doctor will begin the best and most effective treatment options for the patient.

Treatment

Doctors generally begin by treating epilepsy with medication. If medications don’t treat the condition, doctors may propose surgery or another type of treatment.

Medication

People with epilepsy can go seizure-free by taking the right set of medicines. But in some cases, many children who aren’t experiencing epilepsy symptoms can eventually discontinue the medication.
The doctor may suggest surgery or other therapies

Epilepsy surgery

When the medication does not work the doctors may have to perform surgery to help remove the area of the brain that is causing seizures.

Therapies

Several therapies can be given as an alternative to treat epilepsy when medication and surgery also do not result in seizure free life.

  • Vagus nerve stimulation
  • Ketogenic diet
  • Deep brain stimulation
  • Responsive neurostimulator

FAQ’s:

What does epilepsy do to a person?

Epilepsy is a neurological disorder in which brain activity becomes abnormal causing severe seizures and unusual behaviors.

What are the warning signs of epilepsy?

The person starts to show certain warning signals which need immediate attention:-

  • Stiffness of muscles
  • A feeling of temporary confusion
  • Uncontrollable jerking movements of the arms and legs
  • Loss of consciousness or awareness

Can epilepsy be cured?

No, there is no known cure for epilepsy. There are several medications and surgical options that can help control the severity of epilepsy but there isn’t any cure for epilepsy.

Is epilepsy a mental illness?

No, epilepsy is not a mental illness. People with epilepsy do not have any cognitive or psychological problems.

How can epilepsy be prevented?

Making certain changes in your lifestyle may help prevent epilepsy. Using safety belts while driving, and wearing a helmet at all times can help avoid brain injuries or traumatic brain injuries.

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