What is Epilepsy? What are the common reasons behind it?
Epilepsy is a chronic (long-term) medical condition and a brain disorder that causes recurrent seizures and unprovoked. A seizure is an immediate rush of electrical activity inside the human brain. There are two major types of seizures, generalized seizures that affect the whole brain when focal or partial seizures affect one part of the brain.
A mild condition of seizure may be tough to recognize, and it can last a few seconds during which you lack awareness. But the severe seizures can cause muscle spasms or uncontrollable muscle twitches, that can last a few seconds to several minutes. People with stronger seizure problems can lose consciousness or be confused. And after that, they may have no memory of it happening.
There are several reasons behind a seizure condition including;
- Very low blood sugar
- High fever
- Head trauma
- Alcohol withdrawal, etc.
It is a fairly common neurological disorder that affects approximately 3 million people in the United States. Not only in the United States but also in the entire world, it is a common condition as it has affected about 65 million people around the world.
Epilepsy can occur in anyone, but it is much more common in older adults and young children. Certain reports have said that this disorder occurs more in males in comparison with females.
What are the symptoms of Epilepsy?
Symptoms of this disorder can range from one person to another, depending on the type and severity of seizures. There are two major types of seizures, as mentioned above, and both conditions have some common and different symptoms.
Focal (partial) seizures
Simple partial seizure
It is a basic seizure condition that doesn’t cause a loss of consciousness. Focal seizure symptoms can include;
- Tingling and twitching of limbs
- Dizziness, and
- Alterations to a sense of taste, sight, smell, hearing, or touch.
Complex partial seizures
It can cause loss of consciousness or awareness; its symptoms can be;
- Staring blankly
- Performing repetitive movements, etc.
Generalized seizure disorders
This seizure condition can affect the whole brain and can be divided into six stages or types;
It is used to called mal seizures, causing a blank stare. This type of seizure can also produce repetitive movements like lip blinking or blinking. They can also create a low loss of awareness.
They can make someone fall suddenly and can lead to loss of muscle control.
Tonic seizures can cause muscle stuffiness.
This type of generalized seizure disorder can be characterized by repeated, jerky muscle movements of the face, arms, and neck.
Myoclonic seizures can cause quick twitching of the arms and legs.
Tonic-clonic seizures can include the below-given symptoms
- Loss of bowel or bladder control
- Stiffening of the body
- Loss of consciousness
- Biting of the tongue.
What causes Epilepsy?
Causes of this disorder can vary according to the age of the individual. In some people with no clear reason, it can be genetic. Epilepsy can be caused by the way some genes work in the brain.
Common causes of seizures
- Lack of oxygen during birth
- Brain malformations
- Low levels of blood calcium, blood sugar, blood magnesium, or other electrolyte problems
- Intracranial hemorrhage
- Inborn errors of metabolism
- Maternal drug use.
In infants and children
- Brain tumor, fever and
In children and adults
- Genetic factors
- Cognatic condition
- Head trauma and progressive brain disease
- Trauma, stroke, and Alzheimer’s problem
How is Epilepsy diagnosed?
Doctors review an individual’s symptoms and medical history to diagnose Epilepsy. Doctors can order several tests to diagnose epilepsy and determine the reason behind the seizures. They can evaluate your Epilepsy based on these facts;
A doctor can advise patients for a blood checkup. The doctors can take a blood sample to check for signs of infections, genetic conditions, and others that may be associated with seizures.
A neurological exam
Doctors may test an individual’s behavior, mental function, motor abilities, and other areas to diagnose their condition and determine the type of Epilepsy.
Doctors can also advise for these tests to diagnose Epilepsy;
Electroencephalogram (EEG), high-density EEG, computerized tomography or CT scan, Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), functional MRI, positron emission tomography (PET), single-photon emission, computerized tomography (SPECT), neuropsychological tests, etc.
How is Epilepsy treated?
Most people with Epilepsy can manage their conditions with the help of treatment. A treatment plan will be based on the severity of symptoms, an individual’s health, and how well they respond to therapy.
Some treatment options include:
Vagus nerve stimulator
It is a medical device that is surgically placed under the skin on the chest and electrically stimulates the nerves running through the neck.
This medication is used to reduce the number of seizures an individual has. We will advise you to take this medication exactly as prescribed to get the maximum benefit of the drug.
In this method of management of Epilepsy, doctors remove or alter the area that is affected by the seizures.
Most patients take this diet when they do not respond to the medications.
Medications for Epilepsy
Some common and most prescribed medications can include;
- Klonopin (Xlonazepam)
- Valium (Diazepam)
- Lamotrigine (Lamictal)
- Levetiracetam (Keppra)
- Topiramate (Topamax)
- Ethosuximide (Zarontin), etc.