Epilepsy is a disorder of the brain, in which an individual experiences repeated seizures. It is estimated that nearly 65 million people across the world have epilepsy. Approximately 2.2 million people in the United States suffer from epilepsy. Epilepsy is fairly common and its prevalence makes it one of the most widespread neurological disorders. Even though epilepsy is quite prevalent, it remains one of the most misunderstood conditions.
Epilepsy is a neurological condition that results in recurring seizures. The seizures are the result of disturbed electrical surges in the brain. Many people may have one unprovoked seizure in their lifetime, but having two or more unprovoked seizures indicates epilepsy. Epileptic seizures cause a disruption to the person’s behavior or attention and have varying symptoms. There are several different types of seizures, the various types of seizures fall into 2 categories:
Symptoms of epilepsy differ from person to person and depend upon the type of seizure. Most people with epilepsy will have a recurrence of the same type of seizure each time, meaning that their symptoms for each episode will be similar. Doctor’s label epileptic seizures after reviewing how the disruption of brain activity began.
Epileptic seizures are labeled focal or generalized; there are many types of seizures, each with their own set of symptoms. There are two types of focal seizures: simple focal and complex focal. Symptoms of simple focal seizures include:
Symptoms of complex focal seizures include:
There are six types of generalized seizures: Petit Mal, Tonic, Clonic, Myoclonic, Atonic and Grand Mal. The symptoms and characteristics of each type of generalized seizures are broken down as follows:
Petit Mal Seizures:
Grand Mal Seizures:
In approximately half of all people diagnosed with epilepsy, no cause will be found. It is believed that epilepsy may stem from the changes in the tissues of the brain, which causes the brain to send out abnormal electrical impulses. The seizures associated with epilepsy are recurring and unpredictable. Though in many cases there is no clear cause for epilepsy, in some cases the epilepsy can be linked to certain conditions including:
Certain factors may increase a person’s risk for developing epilepsy. These risk factors include:
Diagnosing epilepsy is a process involving many steps. Your doctor will likely begin by doing a full medical history, neurological examination and blood tests. In addition, your doctor will likely order diagnostic tests including:
In most cases, your doctor will try to control epileptic seizures with medications. If medications don’t work, your doctor may suggest surgery to alleviate seizures. The two most common treatment options are:
If you have been diagnosed with epilepsy, there may be certain home remedies you can follow to reduce the number of seizures that you experience. These lifestyle changes include:
Because epileptic seizures are not predictable and can recur at any time, individuals with epilepsy may find themselves in unsafe situations. Complications from epilepsy may arise, including:
If you have just experienced a seizure for the very first time, consult your doctor. If you have a history of epilepsy, it may be unsafe for you to drive or operate machinery. If you have a history of epilepsy it is important for you to seek medical attention if:
Epilepsy is a disorder of the brain that occurs when electrical impulses within the brain become abnormal resulting in seizures. A person with epilepsy has recurring seizures over a period of years. Epileptic seizures can have varying symptoms and can range from mild to severe. Epilepsy can usually be controlled through medication or surgery.