Epilepsy is a sudden abnormality in nerve impulse signal transmission in the brain which can result in set of seizures. Seizures occurring ones doesn`t really means the epileptic conditions but repeated occurrence of seizures is believed to be epilepsy.
Epilepsy is the brain disorder of idiopathic means, which refers to as unknown cause. It can affect every individual irrespective of their age.
Brain is the main organ in governing our every bodily function by transmission of nerve impulses. When this activity suddenly hyper activated seizures can occur.
Cause and risk factors:
Neurotransmitters are the chemical substance that acts between the nerve cells. Main neurotransmitters are
- GABA – Gamma amino butyric acid
When these neurotransmitters are imbalanced can cause seizures.
The mystery is still unrevealed as the cause for these chemical changes are unknown. Few epileptic condition or seizures occurs as a relation with the other trauma or disease affecting the brain cells.
Even though epilepsy as no familial history, it has few gene types are more prone to the occurrence of seizures.
Abnormality in the structure of brain can affect the nerve cell transmissions.
Head injury – any injury to the head can damage the brain function immediately or later. Can provoke as a seizures
Exposure to the poisonous gases and chemicals
Insufficient amount of oxygen supply to the brain cells
Few ailment and disorders that are most concerned to pay way for epilepsy are
- Cerebro vascular diseases
- Heart attacks
- Alzheimers disease
- Tumor of brain
- Cavernous angiomas
- Focal cortical dysplasia
- Cerebral palsy in children
These are the disorders that contribute to epilepsy by obstructing the oxygen supply to the brain cells.
Alcohol abuse can also affect the brain cells in long run.
Some may be due to medication induced.
Some have the psychological issues related.
Types of epilepsy or seizures:
Even though there are various types of epilepsy are classified only two main types are mostly categorized.
Those two are
- Focal or partial seizures
- Generalized seizures
Focal or partial seizures:
In this type of seizure the trigger of nerve impulse starts or concentrated only in one particular area of brain. It will extend or hang about in that part of brain until the seizures exist.
This focal or partial seizure is further classified as
1) Simple focal seizures:
In this the consciousness of the person is not troubled. He is attentive to the situation or surrounding during the seizure takes over.
2) Complex focal seizures:
In this type the patient will be unconscious; totally unaware of the situation happened during seizure attack. Affected person express a strange behavior involuntarily.
In this type of seizures whole brain area is involved in the hyperactivity of the neuron excitement. The affected person completely loses their consciousness during seizure presence.
According to the symptoms displayed during generalized seizure, it can be named as follows
- Tonic seizures
- Atonic seizures
- Clonic seizures
- Myoclonic seizures
- Tonic-clonic seizures
- Absence seizures
Common Symptoms of epilepsy:
Symptoms of epilepsy can be seen abruptly, but it must be needed to ensure complete differentiation from other brain disorders. Most commonly seen symptoms are
- Repetitive movements seen apparently and unfortunately
- Person is insensitive to any order or issues asked to him
- Few spells of fainting associated with tiredness
- Instant spells of irregularity without obvious motivation
- The body becomes stiff suddenly
- Sudden loss of normal muscle tone leading to fall of person
- Memory seems to be disorientated or in the state of confusion
- Complete loss of consciousness during seizures
- Show a vague impression
- Faces difficulty in speech, chewing activity, swallowing and dribbling action
- Impairment in sensitivity like smelling, touching and hearing
- Collection of hurried jerky actions are seen
- Lost control over the bowel and urinary actions
- Racing heart pounding seen in few cases
- Difficulty in breathing process
- Affected person seems to be in dream like state
- Experiences different emotion that he totally unaware of it.
When to visit a doctor
Ask for urgent medical assist if any of the following happens:
- If seizure or convulsion preceding for more than five minutes
- If breathing or sensitivity doesn’t come back once the seizure ends
- If a subsequent seizure follows without a delay
- If experienced any high fever
- If there is any heat collapse or exhaustion or tiredness
- If the person is wounded physically during the stages of convulsion attack
- If the women affected is pregnant
- If there is any diabetic conditions
How to make diagnosis of epilepsy:
Diagnosis should be done with the consideration of other brain diseases which have same symptoms. After the seizure attack we need to consult the doctor’s advice. Especially neurologist is the main specialist to diagnose epilepsy and other nervous disorders.
Doctor will ask the patient for medical and personal history to detect the epileptic condition and further run other tests.
Doctor will conduct tests for the physical and neurological activities.
Blood tests – done to screen out the genetic and metabolic disorders associated, especially in children’s.
Lumbar puncture – to check cerebrospinal fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord for the presence of any infections
Electroencephalogram (EEG) – this is done to check for any abnormal changes and activity in the brain areas interrelated with epilepsy.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) – this is done to check for any defect in the structures of the brain areas.
Computerized tomography (CT SCAN) – this scan also shows the abnormality in the structure of brain.
Magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) – this shows any biochemical changes in the brain region.
Treatment for epilepsy:
The main aim of the treatment should be to make the patient be free from seizures and lead a comfortable life.
Mostly epilepsy is treated with the drugs. Few commonly used drugs are
The drug administration and the treatment method itself vary according to the type of seizures present. These drugs can prevent seizures to particular extent. But few drugs have some side effects and not suitable for the patient.
Few patient recover quickly according to the type of seizures and his health condition and few takes longer period of treatment. Main focus is to sub side the seizure attacks.
About 70% of epilepsy is cured by drug administration. Other 30% will require surgery as the option to live seizure free.
Before the surgery various pre surgical evaluation and exams are conducted to check the patient conditions.
In surgery particular region triggering the impulse abnormally are removed, especially in the partial seizure types.
After the surgery few have been fully free from seizures and other few with the control over seizure occurrences.
Prevention of epilepsy:
As epilepsy is of unknown causes we need to protect ourselves to a maximum level. Few steps to prevent are
- Avoid head injuries and trauma by taking preliminary precautions.
- Avoid the infectious diseases affecting the brain.
- Treat the seizure attack immediately and cure it in the beginning stage.
- Do not ignore the high fever conditions.
- Get proper treatment for coronary heart diseases.
- Control the high blood pressure.
- Maintain the blood sugar level.
- Get proper treatment for other diseases.
- Avoid using of prohibited drugs and illicit drugs.
- Avoid exposure to the harmful chemicals.
- Avoid excessive alcohol addiction.
Even in this advanced world most of the people are unaware of the epilepsy attack and its consequences. Wide ranges of people are not even consulting doctor for the seizure or convulsion attack.
Epilepsy has the tendency to damage or change the brain cells and modify the behavior patterns and cognitive functions. We can prevent it by creating awareness on epilepsy.