What is Epilepsy? Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatments, Precautions, & More
Epilepsy is a central nervous system (neurological) disorder. In epilepsy, abnormal brain activity results in seizures or periods of strange behavior, sensations, and occasionally loss of awareness.
What is Epilepsy?
A chronic brain condition called epilepsy causes recurrent "fits" or "seizures." Sudden, excessive electrical discharges in the neurons or brain cells cause seizures. People of any age can develop this condition, and different issues arise for each age group.
Around 50 million people worldwide, 80% of whom reside in developing nations, are thought to have epilepsy, according to the WHO. Although it is a treatable condition, three-fourths of those affected in developing nations do not receive the right care. In India, there are roughly 10 million people who experience seizures linked to epilepsy.
A person is diagnosed with it after experiencing multiple seizures. Additionally, it is evident that not all seizures are caused by epilepsy. Other conditions, such as extremely low blood sugar, fainting, etc., can also cause seizures. The majority of epilepsy cases are diagnosed in children and adults over 65.
What are the causes of Epilepsy?
Epilepsy can be caused by both genetic and acquired factors, and these factors frequently interact to do so. While older people are more likely to experience brain tumors and strokes, younger people are more likely to experience epilepsies brought on by genetic, congenital, or developmental conditions.
The majority of cases are thought to involve genetics, either directly or indirectly. Only 1-2 percent of epilepsies are caused by a single gene defect; the majority are brought on by the interaction of many genes and environmental factors. There are fewer than 200 single gene defects known, and they are all rare.
Phakomatoses are a class of multisystemic diseases that primarily affect the skin and central nervous system. They are also referred to as neurocutaneous disorders. They are brought on by abnormal embryonic ectodermal tissue development, which is typically the result of a single genetic mutation.
Tumors, strokes, head trauma, previous infections of the central nervous system, genetic abnormalities, and birth-related brain damage are a few other conditions that can result in epilepsy.
Some other common causes of epilepsy are:
- Infection in the brain.
- Congenital abnormalities
- Stroke and brain Tumors
- Damage to the brain due to prenatal and perinatal injury.
- Injury in the head or accident.
- During childhood prolonged high fever.
- Infections like encephalitis or meningitis.
- Low oxygen during birth.
- Some genetic conditions like tuberous sclerosis may result in brain injury.
What are the symptoms of Epilepsy?
Some evidence links epilepsy and celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity, while other evidence does not. The early signs and symptoms of Epilepsy are:
- Loss of consciousness
- Muscles of arms, legs, or face become stiffed
- Different types of sensations like sort of pricking pins or needles in arms or legs
- Uncontrollable jerking motions in arms or legs etc
How to deal with the seizures caused by epilepsy?
There is proof that epileptic seizures are typically not an arbitrary occurrence. The causes of seizures, also known as triggers, include things like stress, excessive alcohol consumption, flickering lights, and sleep deprivation, among others. The amount of stimulus required to trigger a seizure is known as the seizure threshold, and it is lowered in epilepsy.
And the tips to deal with seizures are:
- Don't panic.
- Lose tight clothes near the neck.
- Remove sharp objects from the person suffering from seizures.
- Gently roll the person from one side so that any fluid present in the mouth comes out.
- Under the head of the person put some type of soft cloth.
- Do not give or push anything to the mouth of the person.
- Remain with the person until any help arrives.
- Allow the person to rest or sleep.
How to diagnose Epilepsy?
Epilepsy is typically diagnosed based on observation of the onset of seizures and their underlying causes. Initial investigations frequently also include an electroencephalogram (EEG) to check for abnormal brain wave patterns and neuroimaging (CT scan or MRI) to examine the structure of the brain. It is not always possible to identify a specific epileptic syndrome, despite frequent attempts. In complex situations, video and EEG monitoring may be helpful.
Remember that the right medications can be used to treat epilepsy. However, it's crucial that we start the treatment right away. As soon as the illness is identified, the treatment can begin. By doing this, we can stop the person's condition from getting worse.
What are the precautionary tips for Epilepsy?
Even though many cases cannot be prevented, efforts to lessen head injuries, offer proper care during childbirth, and eradicate environmental parasites like the pork tapeworm may be successful.
And some other preventive measures are:
- If the epilepsy patient does not suffer from seizures then also it is advised to take proper medication as advised by the doctor.
- Don't discontinue medicine without the advice of a doctor.
- Before taking any other medication, it is better to consult or take advice from the doctor.
- Don't drink alcohol because it provokes seizures.
With the use of the right medication, epilepsy can be cured as it is a treatable condition. National Epilepsy Day is observed on November 17 each year to raise awareness of the condition and encourage people to take the recommended medications. Through seminars, lectures, etc., this day also educates people.