Epilepsy Symptoms, Types, Diagnosis, and Treatment

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Epilepsy Meaning

Epilepsy is a chronic neurological disorder in which the brain functions abnormally and causes recurrent seizures. Seizures are symptoms of brain problem that can occur abruptly and cause unusual electrical activity in the brain, unconsciousness and prolonged convulsions (body shakes uncontrollably).

Epilepsy can affect people of all age groups, irrespective of their gender, race, etc. In most cases, it can be cured with medication however, few cases might require surgery to control seizures for the people suffering from epilepsy.

Epilepsy Symptoms

The Epilepsy Symptoms may vary depending on the epilepsy type. Mostly, a person suffering from epilepsy will develop the same seizure every time, leading to similar Epilepsy symptoms. The individual should consult a doctor, especially if they experience the below symptoms:

  • Temporary confusion or loss of consciousness
  • Uncontrollable jerking movements of the arms and legs
  • Loss of consciousness or awareness
  • The person may become fearful,  panic, and angry
  • Repeated seizures
  • The person loses its ability to think, react, or communicate for a short period

Epilepsy Symptoms

Epilepsy Types

Doctors differentiate seizures as either focal or generalized, based on how abnormal brain activity begins and Epilepsy type.

Generalized onset seizures

Generalized onset seizures occur due to abnormal activity on both sides of the brain which causes violent generalized convulsions and loss of consciousness. It may occur because of an impulse however, it can also be provoked by other external factors. It is linked with severe complication and may be life-threatening.

Focal seizures

Focal seizures occur from abnormal activity in just one area of your brain. The signs and symptoms will depend on the affected side of the brain the seizure occurs in, and which body functions are managed by that part of the brain and symptoms may differ from person-to-person.

Epilepsy Types

Epilepsy Causes

Epilepsy is a non-communicable disease which may occur due to the problem of electrical activity in the brain. Epilepsy causes are not identifiable however, people with a family history are more likely to develop epilepsy.

The causes of epilepsy include:

  • A severe head injury
  • Brain Condition like Brain stroke, Tumour
  • Genetic syndromes or Congenital abnormalities
  • Prenatal injury, or brain damage that occurs before birth
  • Developmental disorders such as autism and neurofibromatosis
  • Brain infection such as meningitis, encephalitis, neurocysticercosis
  • Genetics plays a crucial role in developing epilepsy.

Epilepsy Diagnosis

An accurate epilepsy diagnosis plays a crucial role in effective treatment. The first step is to understand whether the symptoms described by the patient are due to a seizure or caused by any other factor.

 If it is determined that the symptoms are consistent with epilepsy, epilepsy type and the causes need to be identified. While diagnosing epilepsy, the doctor will examine your medical history with a detailed account of the event and conduct a variety of tests and investigations.

These tests allow a doctor to observe the patient’s brain activity and review its brain to diagnose epilepsy:

  • Blood tests, Pathology tests & Physical examination will be conducted
  • Electroencephalogram (EEG)
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
  • Computed tomography (CT)

Epilepsy Diagnosis

Epilepsy Treatment

The doctor’s aim is to prevent seizures and its side effects from reoccurring so that the patient can lead a normal, active, and productive life.

There is no proper epilepsy treatment for most epilepsy types however, surgery can eliminate some kinds of seizure from arising, and in most cases, the disease can be controlled. If it is diagnosed, the doctor will prescribe anti-epileptic drugs. If drugs don’t work surgery, a special diet or VNS (vagus nerve stimulation) is treated as the next option.Epilepsy Treatment

Epilepsy Prevention

Preventive measures can be applied to the familiar causes of epilepsy. Epilepsy prevention helps to prevent head injury. Proper prenatal care can reduce cases of epilepsy caused by birth injury. Elimination of parasites in environments and awareness, education on how to avoid infections can be effective ways to reduce epilepsy worldwide.

Epilepsy Risk Factors

Certain factors may increase your epilepsy risks:

  • Family history: Family history of epilepsy may increase the risk of developing a seizure.
  • Head injuries: Head injuries are considered being a reason for some cases of epilepsy. The risk can be reduced by wearing a seat belt while riding a car or by wearing a helmet while engaging in activities with a high risk of head injury.
  • Stroke and other vascular diseases: Stroke and other blood vessels (vascular) diseases can cause brain damage that may trigger epilepsy. To reduce your risk of epilepsy, alcohol, and cigarettes should be avoided, a healthy diet, and exercise regularly.
  • Dementia: Dementia can higher the risk of epilepsy in older individuals.
  • Brain infections: Infections such as meningitis cause infection in your brain or spinal cord can increase the risk.
  • Seizures in childhood: High fever in children can sometimes be related to seizures. The risk of epilepsy increases if a child has a long seizure, another nervous system condition or has a family history.

Epilepsy Facts

Here are some Epilepsy facts about epilepsy:

  • Epilepsy is a neurological condition with symptoms of seizures.
  • The severity of Seizures varies from person-to-person.
  • Treatments include anti-seizure medications.
  • Epilepsy affects people of all age groups.
  • The risk of premature death in people with epilepsy is three times more than the population.
  • People with epilepsy suffer from stigma and discrimination.

FAQ’s

When to see a doctor?

Seek immediate medical help if any of the following occurs:

  • A seizure lasts over five minutes.
  • Breathing or consciousness takes a longer time to recover after the seizure stops.
  • A second seizure follows immediately after the first seizure.
  • If you’re experiencing heat exhaustion, High fever.
  • You’re pregnant.
  • You have diabetes.
  • You get injured yourself during the seizure.
  • Experiencing sudden headache, numbness, or weakness in one side of your body before you have a seizure could be a sign of a stroke.

What’s the difference between seizures and epilepsy?

Seizure medical condition that happens when there is an uncontrolled activity (such as high fever, lack of oxygen or head injury) in the brain that usually lasts for a short period.

While Epilepsy is a chronic neurological disease, in which a person suffers from multiples, seizures. It can be treated with the right treatment, medications, In some cases when these options do not work Surgery is performed.

What triggers Epilepsy?

It is important to understand what triggers epilepsy as well as warning signs to stay one step of this disease:

Common Triggers for Epilepsy:

  • Alcohol, drugs, and Nicotine
  • Lack of Sleep, Tiredness
  • Low Blood sugar
  • Stress, Anxiety
  • Caffeine
  • Hormonal Changes

What are the side effects of epilepsy medications?

Seizure medicines may lead to unwanted side effects in some people. Most cases, the effects are mild and don’t last long. Often they can be treated by adjusting the dose or how a person takes it.

  • Some common side effects that seizure medicines cause tiredness, stomach upset or discomfort, weakness, or behavioral changes.
  • Some side effects may lower your appetite, cause insomnia, blurred vision.
  • Nausea, Headache Depression, unsteady Walking
  • Although rare, the drug may cause bone marrow or liver failure.

What is epilepsy surgery?

Epilepsy surgery is a procedure that eliminates or alters a specific area of your brain that causes seizures. Epilepsy surgery is effective when seizures always originate in a single place in the brain. However, itis not the first line of treatment but is often considered when at least two anti-seizure medications have failed to control seizures.

What are the warning signs of a seizure?

Knowing your Warning signs of Seizures can help you control over seizure activity.

  • Sensitivity to smells, sounds, or sights
  • Anxiety
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Visual changes, such as tunnel vision

Author:

Dr. Srikanth Reddy

  • M.S(GOLD MEDALIST), M.Ch(Neurosurgery, NIMS)
  • Consultant Neuro & Spine Surgeon
  • Medical Registration No: 68934
  •   Mon – Sat: 10 AM – 4 PM*
  •   Hitech city, Madhapur

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