Epilepsy causes seizures, periods of unusual behaviour or sensations, or even loss of awareness. It is caused by abnormal activity in the brain that may not have any known trigger. A person is diagnosed to have epilepsy if he or she has at least two seizures at an interval of at least 24 hours.
Symptoms of epilepsy
Symptoms can vary according to the brain process that is affected by the abnormal activity. A person having a seizure may experience:
- Uncontrolled involuntary jerking of arms and legs
- Stiffening or loss of control of muscles
- Sudden staring spell
- Loss of awareness of consciousness
- Psychological issues such as fear, anxiety etc.
- Altered emotional state
- Altered perception of smell, taste, sound etc.
- Tingling, dizziness and flashing lights
- Perform repetitive movements
A person will experience the same type of symptoms during every attack which could last for a few seconds or minutes
Causes of epilepsy
There are a number of causes of epilepsy, but it can also occur without any known cause. The common causes of epilepsy include:
Genetic factors: If you have a family history of epilepsy, then you have a greater chance of getting it.
Head injury: A head injury due to accidents may cause epilepsy.
Abnormalities in the brain: Brain tumours, vascular malformations, stroke etc. may cause epilepsy.
Prenatal injury: Brain damage before birth due to infections, malnutrition or oxygen deficiency may cause epilepsy.
Developmental disorder: Conditions such as autism may cause epilepsy.
Dementia: Senior citizens with dementia may get epilepsy
There are multiple treatment options for epilepsy which include lifestyle changes, medicines, surgery and therapies.
There are over 20 medicines available for epilepsy. Most people require only one medicine to manage epilepsy. Others may require a combination of medicines. What medication you require will depend on your condition, how often you get seizures, your age and other factors. Once your doctor arrives at the right medicine or combination of medicines, you can manage epilepsy if you take the medicines as prescribed without fail. If you remain seizure free for at least 2 years, then your doctor will consider taking you off your medication.
Some people may have severe seizures that cannot be controlled by medication. Surgery may provide relief for such people if their seizures originate in a small well-defined area of the brain and that portion does not control any vital function. Conventional and minimally invasive surgery options are available today. After surgery you may be able to manage seizures better with or without medication.
Path breaking therapies such as nerve stimulation, special diets, deep brain stimulation, responsive neurostimulation offer promising results for managing epilepsy.
Why epilepsy should be treated
Untreated epilepsy could have dangerous consequences. Seizures last for a very short time and you will get back to normal without a problem. A seizure is not dangerous in itself, but if it occurs when you are driving, swimming, working an equipment etc. you will put yourself and people around you in danger.
In earlier times, people with epilepsy were not allowed to undertake such activities and this greatly inhibited their lifestyle. Today with advanced treatments, if you follow your doctor’s advice and take your medicines as prescribed, you will be able to have a full and satisfying life. Avoid alcohol and tobacco, get adequate sleep and manage stress in your life to reduce the risk of seizures.
If you have had seizures consult our experts to receive the best treatment and live life as you wish.