What is Epilepsy?
Unprovoked, repeated seizures caused by the neurological disorder are called Epilepsy. A seizure is a sudden spike in aberrant brain electrical activity. When you experience two or more seizures without another obvious explanation, a doctor will diagnose epilepsy.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 50 million people throughout the world have epilepsy, while the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 3.5 million individuals in the United States have epilepsy (CDC).
Epilepsy can affect anyone, however it typically starts in young children and elderly people. Men are more likely than women to acquire epilepsy, probably as a result of higher exposure to risk factors such alcohol consumption and head trauma.
There are two primary categories of seizures:
- universal seizures
- focused epilepses
Your entire brain is affected by generalised seizures. Only one area of your brain is impacted by focal or partial seizures.
It could be challenging to identify a minor seizure. You might be awake during it, and it might only last a few seconds. Spasms and uncontrollable muscular twitches might result from more severe seizures. They may cause confusion or unconsciousness and last anywhere from a few seconds to many minutes. You might not remember having a seizure afterward.
Epilepsy cannot currently be cured, but it can be controlled with medicine and other methods.
What happens in your brain when you have epilepsy?
All parts of your body can communicate with and receive information from the cells in your brain. A constant electrical impulse that moves from cell to cell is used to transmit these messages.
This periodic electrical impulse pattern is disturbed by epilepsy. Instead, there are electrical activity spikes between cells in one or more regions of your brain, much like an erratic lightning storm. Your awareness (including loss of consciousness), sensations, emotions, and muscle actions are all affected by this electrical disruption.
Types and symptoms of epilepsy
The primary epilepsy symptom is seizures. The symptoms of a seizure vary from person to person and depending on the type.
Focused (partial) seizures
Previously known as a simple partial seizure, a focal aware seizure doesn’t cause unconsciousness. These signs include:
- Sense of taste, smell, sight, hearing, or touch changes
- limb twitching and tingling
Unaware focal seizures (previously called complex partial seizures) involve a loss of consciousness or awareness. Additional signs include:
- looking vacant
- performing frequent motions
The entire brain is involved in generalised seizures. Subtypes consist of:
- Absence seizures. “Petit mal seizures” were the previous name for absence seizures. They frequently result in a brief loss of awareness, a blank stare, and occasionally repeated actions like blinking or lip-smacking.
- Tonic seizures. Sudden stiffness in your legs, arms, or trunk muscles is a symptom of tonic seizures.
- Atonic seizures. Muscle control is lost as a result of atonic seizures. Because a sudden loss of muscle power can cause you to fall quickly, they are also known as “drop seizures.”
- Clonic seizures. Repeated, jerky muscular movements of the face, neck, and arms are hallmarks of clonic seizures.
- Myoclonic seizures. Arms and legs twitch quickly and spontaneously as a result of myoclonic seizures. These seizures can occasionally group together.
- Seizures with tonic-clonic. Grand mal seizures are another name for tonic-clonic seizures. These signs include:
- rigidification of the body
- a lack of bowel or bladder control
- gnawing at one’s tongue
- consciousness is lost
You might not remember having a seizure afterward or you might have mild nausea for sometime.
What causes epilepsy?
According to the WHO, the cause of epilepsy cannot be identified in roughly 50% of cases. Seizures can be brought on by a number of circumstances, including:
- Traumatic head injury or another type of head injury
- following a brain injury, brain scarring (post-traumatic epilepsy)
- severe ailment or extremely high fever
According to the CDC, stroke accounts for roughly half of older people’ instances of epilepsy with no known aetiology.
- oxygen deprivation in the brain
- brain cyst or tumour
- incorporating Alzheimer’s illness, dementia
- a mother’s use of certain medicines, an accident during pregnancy, a brain abnormality, or a newborn’s lack of oxygen
- Infectious diseases such as HIV, AIDS, and meningitis
- genetic, developmental, or neurological conditions
Although epilepsy can manifest at any age, it is typically diagnosed in the first few years of life or after the age of 60.
What are seizure triggers?
Some people can pinpoint the events or circumstances that cause their seizures. The following are a handful of the known triggers that are most frequently used:
- absence of sleep
- a fever or sickness
- flashing or patterned lights, or both
- Caffeine, alcohol, or alcohol withdrawal, narcotics, or prescription medications
- skipping meals, overindulging, or certain dietary components
- really low blood sugar
- a brain injury
Finding triggers is not always simple. It’s not necessarily true that a single occurrence qualifies as a trigger. Frequently, a seizure is brought on by a number of circumstances. Keeping a seizure notebook can help you identify your triggers. Keep the following in mind following each seizure:
- time and day
- which activity you engaged in
- what was going on in the area
- strange sounds, scents, or sights
- unexpected stressors
- how much you ate or how long it
- Depending on what you were eating or how recently you had last eaten
- the degree of your exhaustion and the quality of your sleep the night before
Your seizure notebook can also be used to check on the effectiveness of your medication. Take note of any adverse effects and how you felt right before and right after your seizure.
When you visit the doctor, bring the journal with you. If changing your prescription dosage or looking into alternative treatments is or becomes required, it might be helpful for your doctor to know.
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