What is epilepsy?

What is epilepsy?

Epilepsy is a neurological disorder with excessive electrical activity in the brain—also called seizure activity. Epilepsy is mostly diagnosed by Neurologist in Lahore in early childhood or in adults over the age of 60 years. Even though it is a lifelong disorder, with the right medication and patient compliance, this disorder can be greatly controlled. Read on to know more about epilepsy, its symptoms, diagnosis and treatment options:

What is epilepsy?

Epilepsy occurs when there are excessive bursts of electrical activity in the brain due to any cause and this seizure activity is the hallmark of epilepsy. Epilepsy can affect any part of the brain, and the subsequent symptoms it produces are related to the part of the brain affected.

Epilepsy can have a number of causes, such as:

  •         Brain infection
  •         Stroke
  •         Brain tumor or vascular malformation
  •         Severe head injury
  •         Positive family history
  •         Drug abuse
  •         Alcohol abuse
  •         Developmental disorders such as autism
  •         Prenatal injury
  •         History of oxygen deprivation during birth

Epilepsy can occur in both men and women, from any ethnic background. However, the severity of disease and symptoms can vary greatly between individuals. Epilepsy is treated with anti-seizure drugs that help to control excessive electrical activity in the brain. In most individuals, these drugs help to control the symptoms, but they may need lifelong treatment. However, some children and even adults can outgrow their condition with time.

What are the symptoms of epilepsy?

As mentioned before, the symptoms of epilepsy can vary between individuals, depending on the part of the brain that is affected. These symptoms include:

  •         Staring blankly
  •         Temporary confusion
  •         Stiffness in the muscles
  •         Loss of awareness
  •         Jerking movement of the arms and legs, also called ‘fit’
  •         Strange sensation like déjà vu, anxiety and fear
  •         Tingling in the arms and legs
  •         Unusual tastes and smells
  •         Collapsing
  •         Loss of consciousness

Many people with epilepsy don’t have a recollection of what happens during a seizure. For diagnosed cases of epilepsy, a single seizure does not warrant trip to the emergency room. However, ambulance should be called if there is:

  •         Seizure activity lasting for more than five minutes 
  •         Breathing problems during a fit
  •         Injury during seizure activity
  •         Back to back seizures with small gap in between
  •         Patient has a high fever
  •         Patient is pregnant
  •         Patient is diabetic
  •         Patient has seizure activity despite medication

How is epilepsy diagnosed?

 

The diagnosis of epilepsy is based on physical examination, history and relevant investigations like:

  •         Electroencephalogram (EEG): this test uses electrodes to record electrical activity of the brain. Changes in the pattern of brain waves are detectable during seizure activity.
  •         CT scan
  •         MRI brain

What are the risk factors associated with epilepsy?

The risk of epilepsy increases with certain factors, such as:

  •         Positive family history: many cases of epilepsy are genetic and having a positive family history increases the odds of being diagnosed withepilepsy.
  •         Age: although epilepsy can occur at any age, it is more common during childhood and in people over the age 60 years.
  •         History of dementia: in older adults, having dementia predisposes one to the risk of epilepsy.
  •         Brain infections: viral and bacterial infections of the brain and spinal cord such as meningitis can increase the risk of epilepsy.
  •         Head injury: severe head injuries are often the culprits behind epilepsy. The risk of severe head injuries can be minimized by using protective head gear like helmets while skiing, cycling and using seat belts while riding a car.
  •         Vascular illnesses: malformation of the vessels, hemorrhaging vessels and ischemia are risk factors that increase the chances of epilepsy. These risk factors can be dealt with by: eating less saturated fats, exercising, limiting alcohol intake and smoking cessation.

What are the treatment options?

Epilepsy is treated with anti-seizure drugs, surgery to remove seizure-causing foci andfollowing keto-genic, low-carbohydratediet. There are manytypes of anti-seizure drugs and the right drug is chosen by Neurologist in islamabad based on the type of seizure, age of the patient and associated symptoms.

Elishay Smith

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