There are a number of diseases in this world which affect millions of people each and every day. Some of these can be a huge burden, suddenly onset and extremely discomforting. One of these is epilepsy, which affects the central nervous system and causes abnormal brain activity. It’s important to know the causes, symptoms, and treatments for epilepsy. If you want to learn more, keeping reading this article.
Epilepsy: What Is this Condition?
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Epilepsy is a chronic illness often characterized by recurrent and unprovocative seizures. A person can have the condition if he or she has two gratuitous seizures, or if he or she has an unprovoked seizure with the possibility of more occurring. Unsettlingly, it is not caused by any known and revocable medical illness, such as blood sugar levels or alcohol withdrawal.
Epileptic seizures can be related to a specific brain injury or even genetics, but the cause is usually unknown. The term itself, epilepsy, is not an indication of any underlying cause.
Many people who have epilepsy may have more than one type of seizure, and they may experience other neurological symptoms. From time to time, electroencephalogram (or EEG testing), family history and clinical history are quite similar among those who have epilepsy. In these particular situations, their conditions may be defined as a specific epilepsy syndrome.
While seizures can affect any of the parts of the body, electrical seizures mainly occur in the brain. The effects of such seizures depend on where in the brain they happen, how it spreads, how much of the brain is getting affected and how long the seizure lasts.
Having epilepsy and seizures may affect a person’s safety while driving, working or simply going about their day. It can also have an effect on relationships, but the public perception of epilepsy and its treatments are often bigger than the seizures themselves.
Symptoms of Epilepsy
The major symptom of epilepsy is recurrent seizures. The following are some other common symptoms of the condition. If you are experiencing one or more of these, you must consult a doctor immediately.
- Strange changes in the sense of smell, sound and touch
- Becoming fearful for no reason
- Repetitive movements that may seem inappropriate
- Inability to communicate
- Falling for no clear reason
- Becoming stiff for no reason
- Short spells of blackouts, as well as confused memories
- Convulsion without fever
The following conditions may prevent similar symptoms to epilepsy, and thus need to be ruled out by a doctor:
- Psychogenic seizures
- Panic attacks
- Sleep disorders
- High fever with epilepsy-like symptoms
Causes of Epilepsy
Epileptic seizures are triggered by the messaging systems in our brain. Epilepsy may occur when the system gets disrupted due to some faulty electrical activity. Some causes or factors that may increase the risk of epilepsy include:
- Developmental disorders, like neurofibromatosis or autism
- Prenatal injury or brain damage
- Infectious diseases, like viral encephalitis and AIDS
- Brain conditions, like tumors or strokes
- Head trauma
Treatments for Epilepsy
Treatments for epilepsy are currently unknown. However, there are some surgical operations which may stop or lessen seizures. In many cases, the condition can be managed, especially if there is a specific underlying brain condition causing the seizures. When epilepsy is diagnosed, the doctor may prescribe medications to stop the seizures, also known as anti-epileptic drugs, including:
- Sodium valproate
Some of the drugs may help stop the seizures in one patient, but be ineffective for another, or require a different dosage. Have some patience in finding the right medication for your body. If drugs don’t work, then the next option will be surgery.
Other Effects of Epilepsy
Epilepsy may affect a number of aspects of a person’s life, including:
- The ability to study or work
- Social development and interaction
- Emotions and behaviors
However, with the proper care, attention and medications, epilepsy will vanish. We just need to have enough knowledge about it so we can fight it off!