Neurological Conditions

Seizures Epilepsy

Epilepsy

Epilepsy is a neurological disorder that leads to abnormal brain activity, causing sensations, periods of unusual behavior or seizures, and sometimes loss of awareness. It is a central nervous system disorder.

Epilepsy is not restricted to a particular race or age; anyone can develop it. It’s a chronic non-communicable brain disease that affects about 50 million people worldwide.

Characteristics of Epilepsy

Epilepsy is often characterized by recurrent seizures, which are brief periods of involuntary movement, involving the entire body (generalized) or a part of the body (partial). Sometimes, seizures are accompanied by loss of bowel control or bladder function and loss of consciousness.

Seizure episodes result from excessive electrical discharges in the brain cells. During a seizure, some epileptic patients stare blankly for some seconds, while others repeatedly jerk their legs or arms.

However, you cannot be diagnosed with epilepsy because of a single seizure. According to WHO, up to 10% of the world population will have a single seizure during their lifetime. It takes having at least two unprovoked seizures to be diagnosed with epilepsy.

Symptoms

Since epilepsy results from abnormal brain activity, seizures can affect brain coordination.

The following are the symptoms of epilepsy:

  • Temporary confusion
  • Uncontrollable twitching movement of the legs and arms
  • Psychic symptoms like fear and anxiety
  • A staring spell
  • Loss of awareness or consciousness

Abnormal brain activity can affect the areas of the brain that perform coordination. The symptoms may vary based on the type of the seizure. In majority of the cases, a person who suffer from epilepsy tend to have same type of seizure and similar sort of symptoms during each seizure episode. Seizures are either focal or generalized based on the abnormal activity that begins in the brain.

Causes

Epilepsy has no specific cause in about half of epileptic patients. For the other half, the condition can be traced to the following factors:

  • Genetic influence
  • Head trauma
  • Brain conditions
  • Prenatal injury
  • Developmental disorders such as neurofibromatosis and autism
  • Infectious diseases such as meningitis, Aids, and viral encephalitis.

Treatment of Epilepsy

Seizures can be controlled. According to WHO, up to 70 percent of epileptic patients can become seizure-free with the appropriate antiseizure medication. Sometimes, treatment may involve surgery.

Some people require lifelong treatment, while others just stop experiencing the seizures. Besides, there are cases of some children with epilepsy who outgrew the condition with age.

When do I see a doctor?

Seek medical attention if any of the following occurs:

  • Consciousness or breathing doesn’t return after the seizure stops
  • You have a high fever
  • The seizure exceeds five minutes
  • You’re pregnant
  • You’ve injured yourself during the seizure
  • You have diabetes
  • A second seizure follows immediately.
  • Breathing and consciousness doesn’t return after the seizure stops

Lastly, seek medical attention if it's your first time experiencing a seizure.