Epilepsy – Conditions

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Overview

Epilepsy is a neurological condition characterized by recurrent seizures that affect the brain. A seizure is typically defined as a sudden change in behavior that is caused by a brief disruption in the electrical functioning of the brain. In normal circumstances, the brain generates small electrical impulses that are organized into a sequential pattern. These signals are carried by neurotransmitters, which are chemicals, along with neurons, the brain’s network of nerve cells, and throughout the body.

Epilepsy is characterized by an imbalance in the electrical cycles of the brain, which results in recurrent seizures. For a brief period of time, rapid and synchronized bursts of this energy disrupt the normal electrical pattern in patients suffering from seizures. This energy may cause their consciousness, movements, and sensations to be altered for a brief period of time.

Epileptic seizures are of different types. Two of the most common types are:

Absence seizures: Consciousness is lost in a transient and unexpected manner in these cases. Children are more likely than adults to be affected by them. For a brief period of time, a person experiencing this type of seizure may appear to be staring blankly into the distance. Immediately following that, the patient’s attentiveness returns to normal levels.

Atonic seizures: They are a form of seizure in which muscle strength is suddenly lost. The person may tumble to the ground due to a rapid loss of muscle strength or tone. The person is usually awake.

One of the rare types of epilepsy is known as Dravet syndrome. It is a drug-resistant type that strikes an otherwise healthy infant in the first year of life. It lasts a lifetime. A protracted seizure with a temperature on one side of the body is the most common symptom. The majority of cases are caused by mutations in the SCN1A gene.

Causes

Every function of the human body is controlled by the brain’s messaging systems. It is caused by a malfunction in this pathway, which can be caused by brain dysfunction.

In many circumstances, healthcare providers will be unable to pinpoint the exact cause. It is more prone to arise in some persons due to hereditary factors. Heredity plays a role. If you have a parent having this illness that is connected to genetics, the possibility rises 5%.

Environmental causes may possibly make people more prone to seizures based on their genetic makeup.

Other variables that could put you at risk include:

·         Traumatic brain damage

·         Brain injury or scarring

·         High fever

·         Vascular diseases like stroke

·         Brain tumor

·         Alzheimer’s disease

·         Shortage of oxygen to the brain

·         Drug use

·         Brain abnormality

·         Oxygen deprivation at birth

·         Infectious diseases like meningitis

·         Developmental problems

·         Neurological ailments

·         Premature birth

Symptoms

Seizures have different characteristics depending on where in the brain the disruptions begin and how far it travels. Symptoms such as loss of awareness or consciousness, as well as abnormalities in movement, sensation (include vision, hearing, and taste), temperament, or other cognitive functions, are only temporary.

People with epilepsy have a higher rate of physical problems (like fractures and bruising from seizure-related traumas) as well as psychological problems, such as anxiety and sadness. Similarly, the risk of dying prematurely in people with epilepsy is 3 times higher as compared to the general population, with the largest rates of premature death occurring in low- and middle-income nations and rural locations. 

Falls, drowning, burns, and extended seizures are all potentially preventable causes of death in people with epilepsy, particularly in low- and middle-income countries.

Diagnosis

To diagnose epilepsy, a doctor will examine an individual’s medical history and symptoms, as well as a description along with the timeline of previous seizures.

They might also ask for tests to figure out what kind of epilepsy the person has and what kind of seizures they have. The doctor will be able to propose treatment choices (epilepsy medication) based on these findings.

A doctor can use a variety of imaging tests to diagnose epilepsy. These tests include the following:

·         An EEG (electroencephalogram) to search for irregular brain waves

·         CT and MRI scans are used to detect structural issues like tumors.

·         Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scans, which can detect healthy and unhealthy brain function in particular areas.

·         Single-photon CT scans may be helpful to locate the source of a seizure in the brain.

·         A magnetoencephalogram, which uses magnetic impulses to detect abnormalities in brain function

Blood tests may be used by the doctor to rule out any underlying disorders that are causing epilepsy. Neurological tests can also assist a doctor figure out what kind of epilepsy a patient has.

It is diagnosed based on symptoms, physical signs, and the findings of tests. It is critical to correctly diagnose both the type of epilepsy and the type of seizures. Seizures are divided into numerous categories, the majority of which are linked to specific types of the condition.

Treatment

Epilepsy can be managed. The following are some therapeutic options:

·         Anti-epileptic or anti-seizure medication: They can help you have fewer seizures.

·         Vagus nerve stimulator: This device is surgically implanted underneath the chest’s skin. It activates the nerve traveling through the neck electrically to assist in seizure prevention.

·         Ketogenic diet: This low-carbohydrate, high-fat diet helps those who do not react to the medicine.

·         The area of the brain that initiates seizures can be fixed through surgery.

When to See a Doctor

Immediately see a doctor when you experience a seizure for the first time. This does not indicate you have epilepsy; seizures can occur for a variety of reasons, and some are one-time events; but, you should consult a doctor to find out why it happened.

Anyone who has experienced a seizure should seek medical attention immediately. Even if they haven’t had a large, visible seizure, they should consult a doctor if they sense that they are not conscious of what they are doing for periods of time.


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