Types, Causes, Symptoms and Treatments of Epilepsy

Types_Causes_Symptoms_Treatments_Epilepsy

Epilepsy is a nervous system disorder or neurological disorder that causes temporary disturbance in the messaging systems between brain cells thereby causing periods of unusual behavior, sensations, and sometimes loss of awareness. Anyone can develop epilepsy which affects both males and females of all races, ethnicity and ages.

Symptoms of Epilepsy:

Seizures are the main symptoms of Epilepsy and following are the type of seizures:

Types of Seizures:

[1] Focal (partial) seizures:

When seizures appear to result from abnormal activity in just one area of human brain, they are called focal (partial) seizures.

There are two types of focal (partial) seizures:

(1.A) Simple Focal (partial) seizures:

A simple focal (partial) seizure does not involve loss of consciousness.

Symptoms of simple focal (partial) seizures:

1. Changes in the sense of taste, smell, sight, hearing, or touch.

2. Dizziness

3. Tingling and twitching of limbs.

(1.B) Complex Focal (partial) seizures:

A complex focal (partial) seizure involves loss of awareness or consciousness.

Symptoms of complex focal (partial) seizures:

1. Staring blankly

2. Unresponsiveness

3. Performing repetitive movements.

[2] Generalized seizures:

When seizures appear to involve all areas of the brain, they are called generalized seizures.

There are 6 types of generalized seizures:

(2.A) Absence seizures:

Absence seizures, also known as petit mal seizures often occur in children.

Symptoms:

1. Patients of absence seizures are often found staring into space.

2. Subtle body moves are found in them like eye blinking or lip smacking.

3. Absence seizures often occur in clusters and may cause a brief loss of awareness.

(2.B) Tonic seizures:

Tonic seizures cause stiffening of your muscles.

Symptoms:

1.  Usually affect muscles in your back, arms and legs.

2.  May cause the patient to fall down.

(2.C) Atonic seizures

Atonic seizures, also known as drop seizures, cause a loss of muscle control

Symptoms:

1. May result in the patient suddenly collapsing or falling down.

(2.D) Clonic seizures

Clonic seizures causes repeated or rhythmic, jerking muscle movements.

Symptoms:

1.  Usually affect the neck, face and arms.

(2.E) Myoclonic seizures

Symptoms:

Usually causes sudden brief jerks or twitches of your arms and legs.

(2.F) Tonic-clonic seizures

These are the most dramatic type of epileptic seizures.

Symptoms:

Symptoms include an abrupt loss of consciousness, body stiffening and shaking, and sometimes loss of bladder control or biting the tongue.

Causes of Epilepsy:

1. Genetic influence:   Some types of epilepsies run in families causing a genetic influence. Research has found some types of epilepsy associated with specific types of genes. Certain genes may make a person more sensitive to environmental conditions that trigger seizures.

2. Head injury: Head injury as a result of some accident can cause epilepsy.

3. Brain conditions: Brain conditions such as brain tumors or strokes, which cause damage to the brain, can cause epilepsy.

4. Infectious diseases: Infectious diseases such as meningitis, AIDS and viral encephalitis can cause epilepsy.

5. Prenatal injury: Babies are sensitive to brain damage before their birth, that could be causes by various reasons such as an infection in the mother, poor nutrition or oxygen deficiencies. This brain damage can result in epilepsy.

6. Developmental disorder: Sometimes epilepsy can be linked with developmental disorders, such as autism and neurofibromatosis.

Treatments of Epilepsy:

An epilepsy patient is usually treated with medicines. If medications don’t treat the condition, a surgery or therapy or some other type of treatment may be proposed by the doctor.

1. Treatment of Epilepsy by medication:

Most epileptic patients can be cured within a few years by taking a single anti-seizure medicine also known as anti-epileptic medicine. People who are not experiencing epileptic symptoms can discontinue the medicines upon doctor’s advice and continue a normal life. Anti-seizure medication may have certain side effects like fatigue, dizziness, weight gain, loss of bone density, skin rashes, loss of coordination, speech problems and memory and thinking problems

2. Treatment of Epilepsy by surgery:

If medication fails to control the seizures effectively, surgery may be another option. Doctors usually perform surgery when tests show that:

(a) Your seizures originate in a small and well-defined area of your brain.

(b) The area in your brain to be operated on does not interfere with the important functions of the brain such as speech, language, motor function, vision or hearing.

3. Treatment of Epilepsy by therapy:

Apart from medications and surgery, the following therapies offer another way of treating epilepsy:

(3.A) Vagus nerve stimulation:

In vagus nerve stimulation, a device called a vagus nerve stimulator is implanted underneath the chest’s skin, similar to a heart pacemaker. Wires from the stimulator are connected to the vagus nerve in the neck. Most people still need to take anti-epileptic medicines, although the dosage may be reduced. Side effects such as throat pain, hoarse voice, shortness of breath or coughing may be experienced from vagus nerve stimulation.

(3.B) Ketogenic diet:

A strict diet that’s high in fats and low in carbohydrates may help reduce the seizures for some epileptic children. After a few years, some children might be able to stop the ketogenic diet, under close supervision of their doctors and remain seizure-free. Side effects such dehydration, constipation, slowed growth because of nutritional deficiencies and a buildup of uric acid in the blood, which can cause kidney stones, are there, however these side-effects are uncommon provided the patient is taking proper diet and medicines.

(3.C) Deep brain stimulation:

In deep brain stimulation, electrodes are implanted into a specific part of the brain which is usually thamalus. The electrodes are connected to a generator implanted in the chest or skull that sends electrical pulses to the brain and may reduce the seizures.

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Author: Sunny

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