Understanding Epilepsy: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

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Update Date 15/09/2020 . 3 mins read
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Types of Epilepsy

The fourth most common neurological condition in the world is epilepsy, which is also known as a seizure disorder.

In the world, over 50 million people have it and that makes it one of the more popular neurological conditions for both children and adults.

Types of Epilepsy

Epilepsy is a malfunction in the central nervous system. The symptoms are mostly consistent for most people. 

An abnormality in brain activity triggers seizures or unregulated physical body movements that can cause harm if unattended or unsupervised by other normal adults.

In most cases, there are too many electrical charges in the brain and this causes the abnormality.

There are several types of epilepsy.

Generalized Epilepsy

Generalized seizures are the type that involves the entire brain, not just a single region. It can be further classified into its subtypes: 

Absence or Petit Mal

This typically happens to children and can involve loss of consciousness or smacking of the lips. 

Atonic

The atonic seizure happens when the patient loses control of his or her muscles and can also cause him or her to fall down. 

Tonic

The muscles become stiff in a tonic seizure. This can cause the patient to fall on the floor or the ground. 

Clonic

This is the most popular appearance of an epileptic seizure in the mainstream. It involves the repetitive movement of the arms, face, and neck. 

Tonic-Clonic

This is a combination of muscle stiffening and movements of rhythm. 

Focal-Based Epilepsy 

Focal epilepsy occurs when the seizures are focal or it only impacts a certain region or part of the brain.

There are two subtypes: those who have focal seizures and retain full consciousness and those with focal seizures that involve total loss of consciousness or lack of response to external stimuli. 

Causes and Risk Factors

Genetics

Some of the cases of epilepsy are genetic. If a family member has it, there is a possibility of transmitting it in the bloodline. But it’s not entirely genetic.

Environment

There are also environmental triggers or parts of the genes that make a person more likely to have seizures in the body from brain signals. 

Poor nutrition at birth

Babies with poor nutrition or environment during a mother’s pregnancy are at risk for epilepsy.

Previous injury or health conditions

The same can also be said for people who have major head injuries, suffer from meningitis or AIDS, and those with certain brain conditions that tend to cause epilepsy.

Close monitoring is important but if it is ultimately well-managed, epilepsy need not be a hindrance for affected children or adults to lead happy and normal lives overall.  

Types of Epilepsy Risk Factors

As such, much medical attention has been given to it although diagnosis has been traditionally difficult for it.

Anyone can equally be at risk of having epilepsy regardless of gender, socioeconomic status, or age.

Family history, head injuries, stroke, dementia and seizure symptoms in childhood can all be considered risk factors to epilepsy.

Some children have it as kids and then outgrow it; meanwhile, others have to maintain their condition for a lifetime. 

Stroke: All You Need to Know

Diagnosis and Treatment

Typically, a neurological exam and blood test is conducted to check for starters. Additional tests can also include electroencephalogram (EEG) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technology.

Epilepsy Treatment 

The two common modes of treatment include anti-seizure medication and surgery for severe cases that require physical intervention in the brain.

Some of these medications have side effects like dizziness, loss of bone density, rashes, and memory problems.

But for doctors, they usually find modes that outweigh the risks and have superior benefits to the patient.

Adverse medication reactions include suicidal tendencies and depression, too, and may need a reconsideration or recalibration of medication dosage by a medical expert.

Surgery is usually recommended when medications are not enough and the cause of the seizure is localized in a well-defined region in the brain. 

Prevention

  • Having good prenatal care can reduce the risk of epilepsy.
  • For most people, avoiding head injuries is also important.
  • Parasites in tropical regions are also known to increase risk. Keeping a tropical residence tidy and free from parasites can decrease risks and help prevent epilepsy from parasitic infections.

The power of technology and new research is also making strides in this vast field of treatment and diagnosis for epilepsy.

Some cutting edge laboratories now even have the potential of predicting the occurrence of seizures by closely studying brain activity.

Minimizing risk, getting valuable information from a medical expert, and being open to new and cutting edge resources are just some of the ways to make the most out of life even with a diagnosis of epilepsy.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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