Epilepsy is a progressive brain condition that causes unprovoked seizures on a regular basis.
What are the symptoms of a seizure?
The human brain, as we all know, is a complicated structure made up of a delicate combination of nerve cells, electrical impulses, and chemicals called neurotransmitters. Electrical signals that produce chemical messengers are used to communicate between Neurons or Brain cells. Seizures can be caused by some disruption to the brain’s functioning. During a seizure, irregular bursts of neurons fire electrical impulses, causing the brain and body to act abnormally. Seizures can vary in severity from person to person. It may be an unusual sensation for someone who is not losing consciousness, or a “trance-like” state lasting a few seconds or minutes, when others lose consciousness and experience convulsions (uncontrollable shaking of the body).
Epilepsy is most often diagnosed in children, but it may strike anyone at any age. The cause of epilepsy is often unknown. Epilepsy that develops later in life has been linked to brain injury in some cases…
Epilepsy can be caused by:
1. Cerebrovascular disorder, which is caused by a problem in the brain’s blood supply.
a. Stroke – When a loss of blood flow (clot) or bleeding into the brain from a burst blood vessel causes damage to one portion of the brain (haemorrhage).
b. Subarachnoid haemorrhage – Blood drains from the brain’s blood vessels onto the surface of the brain below the middle layer of the three brain coverings, causing subarachnoid haemorrhage.
2. Brain tumors are growths that arise when brain cells multiply in an irregular and uncontrollable manner. It may be cancerous (malignant) or non-cancerous (benign) (benign).
3. Severe head injuries that necessitate urgent medical treatment due to the possibility of permanent brain injury.
4. Hereditary – descent of genes.
Seizure Triggers :
Epileptic seizures are triggered by certain objects or circumstances.
-Stress could be the catalyst.
-Insufficient sleep (sleep deprivation).
-Some prescription drugs and illicit substances.
-Monthly cycles in women.
-Flashing lights (photosensitive epilepsy is a rare cause that affects about 5% of people with epilepsy)
-Not eating well, low blood sugar
-Specific foods, excessive caffeine, or other items that may make seizures worse.
It’s best to keep a seizure journal to figure out what’s causing the seizures. Keep a record of any seizure you have and what you were doing at the moment. You can find certain things that seem to cause the symptoms over time and be able to stop them.
Epilepsy is divided into two forms: primary epilepsy and secondary epilepsy.
1. Idiopathic (or primary) epilepsy – There is no known cause for epilepsy other than a family history, implying that it is hereditary. There is a lot of research going on right now to see if there are any mutations in those genes that might impair electrical transmission in the brain.
2. Symptomatic (or secondary) epilepsy – A person’s epilepsy has a documented trigger (refer causes).
Epilepsy Symptoms :
The most experienced symptom of epilepsy is repeated seizures. These can happen when you’re awake or sleeping. There are several different forms of seizures depending on which part of the brain is affected.
1. Partial (or focal) seizures – Seizures that affect only a small portion of the brain.
Simple partial seizures are characterized by a sense of déjà vu, an unpleasant taste or scent, feelings of fear or joy, pins and needles, stiffness, or twitching when the patient is completely conscious.
Complex partial seizures occur when the patient loses consciousness and is unable to recall the incident. Lip smacking, hand rubbing, arm movement, fiddling with items, chewing or swallowing, odd postures, and picking at clothes are all common.
2. Generalized seizures, which involve most or more of the brain.
Absence seizures are most common in infants, but they can also happen in adults. For up to 15 seconds, the patient loses sight of their surroundings. The patient flutters his eyes or smacks his lips as he stares blankly into space.
Myoclonic seizures are when your arms, legs, or upper body jerks or twitches for a fraction of a second, as if you’ve had an electric shock.
Clonic seizures last longer, usually up to two minutes, and are characterized by the same type of twitching as myoclonic jerks.
Atonic seizures cause all of your muscles to spontaneously relax, and there’s a possibility you’ll collapse to the ground and injure yourself.
Tonic seizures: Muscles stiffen abruptly, causing you to lose your balance and fall over. Tonic-clonic seizures: These convulsions are referred to as grand mal and can occur in two stages. The body will stiffen first, followed by twitching of the arms and legs. Some people will wet themselves because they have lost all consciousness. The seizure usually lasts a few minutes, but it can go on for a long time.
3. Unclassified seizures – those that do not fall under either of the above groups.
4. Status Epilepticus: A seizure that lasts more than 30 minutes with no regaining of consciousness in between. This is an emergy condition that requires immediate attention.
Epilepsy Diagnosis :
Epilepsy is difficult to detect. In most cases, it cannot be proven unless more than one seizure has occurred. The most popular methods used are EEG and MRI.
By monitoring the electrical activity of your brain with electrodes mounted on your scalp, an EEG test can detect excessive brain activity associated with epilepsy.
Even if you are sleeping, an EEG can be performed (sleep EEG). You may be given a lightweight, portable EEG recording system to use for 24 hours to track your brain activity (ambulatory EEG).
A magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan uses intense magnetic fields and radio waves to create precise images of the inside of your body. In cases of suspected epilepsy, MRIs are useful because they can identify potential causes of the disease, such as structural abnormalities in the brain or the presence of a brain tumor.
While not everyone with epilepsy requires treatment, it is used to keep seizures under control.
1. Medicines: Anti-epileptic medications are commonly used to treat epilepsy at first (AEDs). AEDs are effective in controlling seizures in about 70% of people with epilepsy. Sodium Valproate, Carbamazepine, Lamotrigine, Levetiracetam, Oxcarbazepine, Ethosuximide, and Topiramate are the most widely used AEDs.
2. Surgery: If the medications fail to manage your epilepsy, you will be referred to a specialist Epilepsy hospital, where the possibility of removing the portion of the brain causing seizures without causing any brain damage will be assessed.
3. Vagus Nerve Stimulation (VNS): If surgery is not an option, a small device implanted under the skin of your chest may be used instead. The unit communicates with the brain by electrical signals. Vagus Nerve Stimulation is the term for this.
4. Deep brain stimulation (DBS): The DBS procedure involves implanting electrodes into particular regions of the brain to minimize the excessive electrical activity associated with seizures.