Epilepsy Seizures – Symptoms, Causes & Treatment
Epilepsy is a neurological disorder that affects the central nervous system resulting in abnormal brain activity. Irrespective of cultural background, age or racial differences; anyone in the world can develop epilepsy.
In most epilepsy cases, almost half the patients exhibit no definite cause for having contracted the disease. Some identifiable causes may be traced to factors that include the following points:
- Genetic History – Epilepsy seizures that affect the brain functions often have a genetic connection and a family history of epilepsy may be the primary reason. Medical researchers suggest that certain types of genes can act as a trigger for developing epilepsy seizures.
- Brain Tumours – Doctors feel that medical conditions such as brain tumours or even a stroke can lead to epilepsy, especially in people above the age of 35 years.
- Head Trauma – Car accidents or a grave injury to the head area can cause severe head trauma and may later develop into epilepsy.
- Prenatal Damage – Extensive brain damage before birth due to poor health of the mother, lack of proper nutrition or oxygen deficiency experienced by the expectant mother can result in cerebral palsy (epilepsy) in the baby.
- Infectious Illnesses – One of the leading causes of epilepsy can be traced to serious infectious diseases such as AIDS, viral encephalitis, and meningitis. Growth disorders such as autism or neuro-fibromatosis can also cause epileptic seizures.
Thanks to medical progression, new accurate terms are now used to classify the types of epilepsy seizures. There are three main groups of epilepsy seizures.
- a) Onset (generalised) Seizures
Such seizures occur on both sides of the brain region simultaneously. They are also known as tonic-clonic or atonic types of seizures.
- b) Focal Seizures (onset aware & onset impaired)
Focal or partial seizures occur on one side of the brain. Focal onset aware seizures happen when a person is fully awake and conscious. While focal onset impaired awareness seizures occur when a person is in a confused state and has little awareness of the seizure.
- c) Unknown Onset Seizures
As the name suggests, the initial beginning of the seizure is unknown. It can happen to a person who is living alone or during night time when everyone is asleep. This type of epilepsy seizure may also be diagnosed as a generalised or partial seizure.
EEG epilepsy test or electroencephalogram, electrical brain signals are filmed by special sensors that are placed on the scalp of the patient. Blood tests like CBC or complete blood count and a chemistry panel can be conducted for an epilepsy diagnosis.
Epilepsy doctors may begin the treatment for epilepsy with oral medications. However, if the medicines do not give better results then the doctors may propose other alternative methods such as surgery or therapies.
Treating epilepsy through therapy sessions may help in lowering the anti-epileptic medication dosage. Similarly, after a successful surgical procedure, the patient may take fewer medical drugs or doses.
Pathophysiology of Epilepsy
The initial study of pharmacologic demonstrated that certain activities that were disclosed through EEG recordings of the epilepsy patients were related to a large-scale depolarization of activities in singular neurons. However, the pathophysiology of epilepsy and epileptic seizures are diverse in nature, and still accounted for various types of seizure disorders.
They provide a structure formation that is extremely susceptible to abnormal activities leading to the generation of seizures. Cortical networks also become highly excitable by other factors such as genetic mutation, abnormal development, and head trauma.
When to seek a Doctor?
You should seek expert medical advice if you experience the following:
- Prolonged epileptic seizure, which lasts for more than five minutes
- Normal breathing does not return even after the seizure stops
- One seizure if followed by another seizure in quick succession
- You have a very high fever
- You are diabetic
- You are suffering from extreme heat exhaustion
- You are pregnant
- You are accidentally injured during the seizure
Can you suddenly develop epilepsy?
Yes, you can develop epilepsy due to certain physical conditions. Epilepsy is a common neurological condition. The symptoms may develop after a heart stroke or accidental head trauma. Diseases like meningitis can also cause seizures.
What triggers epilepsy?
Epilepsy seizures may be triggered by particular situations that vary from person to person. Some common triggers are stress, insomnia, substance abuse, tiredness, and not taking regular medications.
What is the life expectancy of a person with epilepsy?
The life expectancy of a person with epilepsy is reduced up to two years in case of cryptogenic epilepsy and life expectancy may be reduced up to ten years in case of symptomatic epilepsy.
What happens to you when you have epilepsy?
During an epileptic seizure, the brain activity increases to such a level that there are bursts of electrical action. Such an outburst causes varied symptoms determined by the type of seizure.