What is Epilepsy?
A health article about Epilepsy from Your Health Online the A to Z directory of dealing with Health Problems & nutritional Self Care Strategies
Epilepsy refers to a chronic condition in which repeated fits or attacks of unconsciousness occur
with or without confusions. It is a serious disorder of a central nervous system. It occurs in both
children and adults. Most attacks, however, occur in childhood and in early adult life. Attack
rates show a progressive decline in frequency with age.
Epilepsy is a very ancient disease which afflicted some of the world’s greatest personalities,
including Napoleon, Alexander and Julius Ceasar. The actual word " epilepsy" comes from the
Greek word which means " to seize upon". The ancient people believed that evil spirits entered
the body of the person afflicted, seized upon his soul and threw his body into convulsions. The
Greeks believed that the gods induced this disease. The early Christians blamed the devil for
One of the main problems that a person with epilepsy has to face is continual uncertainty about
whether or not he or she will have an attack on any particular occasion. Patients may find
themselves increasingly inhibited from engaging in social events because of the understandable
fear that they might embarrass themselves by having another attack. Such people also
encounter difficulties in employments and other relationships.
Occasional seizures, gnashing of teeth, speechless and foaming at the mouth. These are but a few of the symptoms of epilepsy. And about 2.5 million Americans go through this ordeal. In fact, almost 180,000 people are diagnosed with epilepsy annually.
Epilepsy research is now focusing on the development of new convenient and more effective seizure medicines and how the disease affects intellectual and social development.
Epilepsy is generally not a life-long disorder. There are different types of epilepsy. Some are harder to control while some types can be easily managed. In fact, about 60 per cent of people who suffer from epilepsy have the possibility of controlling or totally recovering from the seizures.
Childhood epilepsy can also be outgrown by adulthood. About 25 per cent however, may develop uncontrolled seizures that could require a lifelong medication.
Signs & Symptoms of Epilepsy
Epilepsy is a condition or a disorder characterized by sudden surges of disorganized electrical impulses in the brain that eventually leads to seizures. In other medical books, it is defined as “a neurological condition that affects the nervous system. Technical terms call it a seizure disorder.
Epilepsy is recognised by recurrent sudden attacks at irregular intervals. The patients twitch
convulsively and fall unconscious to the ground during these attacks which cause tremendous
nervous unheavel. There are two main types of epilepsy known as petit mal and grand mal.
Each follows its own specific pattern.
In petit mal, which is a less serious form of epilepsy, an attack comes and goes within a few
seconds. The patient has a momentary loss of consciousness, with no convulsions except
sometimes a slight rigidity, or there may be slight attack of convulsions such as a jerk, or
movement of the eyes, head trunk or extremities, with no perceptible loss of consciousness.
patient may not fall. He may suddenly stop what he is doing and then resume it when the attack
is over, without even being aware of what has happened. Petit mal attacks may occur at any
time in life but are most frequent in children.
The attack in case of grand mal comes with a dramatic effect. There are violent contractions of
the arms, legs and body, accompanied by a sudden loss of consciousness. Before the onset of
an attack, some patients have a warning or aura in the form of strange sensations such as a
current of air or a stream of water flowing over a body, noises, odours and flashes of light.
typical attack,. the patient cries out, falls to the ground loses consciousness and develops
convulsions. With the convulsions may come foaming at the mouth, twitching of the muscles,
biting of the tongue, distorted fixation of limbs, rotation of the head and deviation of the eyes.
The patient may lose control of his urine and faeces. The attack may last several minutes and is
usually followed by a deep sleep. On waking up, he may remember nothing of what happened to
People who suffer from epilepsy are not abnormal in any other way. They usually know that fits
can be triggered off by particular stimuli. Between epileptic attacks, their brain functions
A seizure is not a disease. It is a symptom of a lot of disorders that in some way can affect the brain. A brain injury may cause seizures and thus may eventually lead to epilepsy. However, if you have a family tendency of having epilepsy, then you are prone to seizures since it is a common symptom observed. Hence, most of the time, the cause of epilepsy is unknown.
It must be noted that when a person suffers from a seizure, he or she may exhibit misbehavior such as screaming, speaking gibberish or the refusal to speak. They appear frightened, confused and even agitated when restrained.
Types of Epilepsy
There is one but common type of epilepsy in which seizures start simultaneously from both faces of the brain. This is called the primary generalized epilepsy, which is more expected to engage some factors of genetics than partial epilepsy. In partial epilepsy, seizures come about only from limited parts of the brain.
The Genre of Epilepsy and Seizure
Numerous researches are conducted to study epilepsy and seizures because seizures and epilepsy are interrelated. Diagnosing epilepsy starts with observing a seizure, and recurrent seizures can also characterize epilepsy.
A seizure occurs when a brain part/s receives abnormal and abrupt signals that temporarily interrupt some of the brain functions.
The types of seizures are:
1. Partial Seizures. This takes place when an abnormal brain activity occurs in one or more parts of one side of the brain. About 1/3 of patients with partial seizures may experience aura before the seizures. An aura may be characterized as dizziness, changes in smell, hearing difficulties or visual changes. About 60% of epileptic patients have this kind of seizure.
There are two types of partial seizures:
• Simple Partial Seizures or Focal Seizures. Seizures that last for less than a minute. The patient stays awake and can experience nausea or sweating. Muscles are usually the most affected; patients can experience wrenching in an arm or a leg.
• Complex Partial Seizures. Seizures which last between one to two minutes. These seizures start with a blank stare. Patients might be unconscious during these seizures and different behaviors can occur such as crying, screaming or lip smacking. The patient seems drunk and they may struggle against those controlling them.
2. Generalized Seizures. Affect a large part of the brain thus there is a lost of consciousness. The kinds of generalized seizures are:
• Absence Seizures. Cause a momentary loss of consciousness and can last for less than 30 seconds. These may reoccur several times, as many as 50 to 100, a day. These seizures can be mistaken as a behavioral problem since the patient looks as though they are just staring into the space while the eyes and face move. After the seizure, the patient cannot recall anything from what happened.
• Tonic seizures. Cause the muscles to be rigid and usually affect arms, legs and back. The seizure lasts for 2 to 3 minutes. For 10 seconds, the patient may lose his/her consciousness.
• Clonic seizures. Cause the muscles on both sides of the body to wrench. These mostly affect young children.
• Myoclonic Seizures. Refer to sudden movements of a group of muscles in the arms, legs or whole body. These seizures may occur several times a day or several days in a row.
• Atonic seizures. These cause loss of muscle tone. The patient may lose consciousness and suddenly collapse; thus can be mistaken as fainting. After only 10 seconds, the person may regain consciousness and can stand again.
• Generalized tonic-clonic seizures. Characterize by phases including stiffening and/or shaking of legs and arms. The person may be sleepy, may have fatigue, body aches and problem in his/her speech.
• Infantile spasm. Rare kind of seizure that affects infants before six months. Infants can noticeably have slower movements of different parts of the body. This can lead to complications and serious health problems.
• Febrile seizures. Common among children between six months and six years old and is associated with fever. These kinds of seizures may be genetic.
Comparable to seizures, there are also many kinds of epilepsy syndrome with accompanying symptoms.
These are characterized by the part of the brain that is greatly affected. Some of the most common types are:
1. Absence Epilepsy. Can be genetically inherited. The seizures usually start during childhood but usually stop at puberty.
2. Temporal Lobe Epilepsy (TLE). Also begins during childhood. The temporal lobe is the part of the brain located near the ear. Constant repetitive TLE can harm the hippocampus, the part of the brain for memory and learning processes.
3. Frontal Lobe Epilepsy (FLE). Frontal lobes are the biggest of five lobes and are responsible for higher thoughts and control personality. These lobes are located behind the forehead. Frontal lobe epilepsy causes brief but clustered seizures that can abruptly start and stop.
4. Occipital Lobe Epilepsy. Occipital Lobes are located at the back of the skull. This kind of epilepsy is the same as TLE and FLE though symptoms are related to the eyes, like rapid eye blinking.
5. Parietal Lobe Epilepsy (PLE). These lobes are located between the temporal and frontal lobes. This kind of epilepsy is similar to the other types but PLE can spread to other areas of the brain.
Classifying seizures and epilepsies is a difficult task. There are various types that are greatly dependent on the symptoms of some brain dysfunction. Seizures and epilepsies are malfunctions of certain areas of the brain and vary among different age groups and different person; as a result, there is a vast range of classifications and not even one well-defined set of the ailments.
It will be beneficial if neurologists can group seizures and epilepsies into different and well-defined types, but in reality this is more complicated. A proper distinction of seizures and epilepsies will only be possible if there is a huge amount of understanding of the structure, caused and the process of the brain itself.
What Causes Epilepsy?
Epilepsy is a neurological disorder often referred to as seizure disorder. Seizures occur when there is a sudden charge of electricity as a result of the breakdown of factors that control electrical activity in the brain.
The linkages of electrical activity inside the brain result in a seizure. The seizures can cause abnormal jerking movements, confusion, staring spell, muscle spasms and loss of consciousness.
Having at least two of such seizures could be diagnosed as epilepsy.
Epilepsy denotes electrical malfunctioning within the brain due to damage of brain cells or some
inherited abnormality. There are many causes of epilepsy. Digestive disturbances, intestinal
toxaemia and a strained nervous condition are very often the main cause of petit mal.
usually results from hereditary influences, serious shock or injury to the brain or nervous system.
Meningitis, typhoid, and other diseases attendant with prolonged high temperature can also lead
to grand mal.
Epilepsy may be caused by several other factors. It may result from allergic reactions to certain
food substances, especially some particular form of protein which is the main constituent of
Circulatory disorders such as hardening of arteries leading to the brain may also cause
epileptic seizures. This type is rare and occurs only in very aged people.
lead poisoning, cocaine and other such habits can also lead to this disease. Other causes of
epileptic seizure include mental conflict, deficient mineral assimilation, particularly of magnesium
and calcium and wrong vitamin metabolism.
According to some researchers, hypoglycemia or
low blood sugar is also involved in most cases of epilepsy.
What causes seizures? What causes the breakdown of the electrical activity threshold in the brain?
In order to understand the root causes of seizure, it is imperative to understand how the brain functions. The brain is composed of millions of tiny particles called neurones. Each neuron is in an electrically charged state.
When a minute quantity of a special neurotransmitter substance is released from the terminals of one neurone, electrical signals pass on to the next neuron, thus transmitting the signal or message. In epilepsy, some unstable neurons discharge electrical signals abnormally. These abnormal electrical discharges may be caused by a genetic defect and/or metabolic abnormalities.
There are different reasons why epilepsy begins in different people of different ages. Often, doctors are not capable of determining the exact cause of epilepsy in an individual. However, there are certain conditions that lead to epilepsy. Having one or more of these conditions will likely cause the disorder.
Brain injuries such as head trauma, meningitis, encephalitis, stroke, hemorrhage, deprivation of oxygen at birth and accidents can cause epilepsy. Head injuries are also common causes. In fact, severe head injuries are the most common causes of epilepsy among young adults.
On the other hand, strokes and tumors are the most likely causes of epilepsy among adults. People aged 65 years and above who suffer from stroke and degenerative diseases such as Alzheimers’ are likely candidates for epilepsy.
Alcohol and drug abuse can also lead to epilepsy. The withdrawal of barbiturates, sedatives and other substances can cause seizures, especially if these substances were abused for a long period of time. In addition, metabolic abnormalities such as low blood sugar and malfunctioning liver and kidneys can also lead to generalized seizures because these abnormalities disturb the normal operations of neurons.
On the other hand, seizures with known clear causes are called secondary or symptomatic epilepsy.
Thus, when someone experienced a seizure, it does not necessarily mean that he or she has epilepsy. Life-threatening situations such as fever or high temperature and dehydration can also cause seizures. These seizure attacks, however, may not necessarily be the symptoms of epilepsy.
Seizures often do not begin immediately after the brain injury. Other cases could even take months before the seizures begin. This observation however, remains unexplained up to this point in time.
People with epilepsy undergo certain types of treatments. However, bear in mind that the treatment of epilepsy is not about relieving pain or extending the life of the person afflicted with the disorder. People must understand that people with epilepsy are treated so they can live unrestricted normal lives.
If diagnosed with epilepsy, neurologists can prescribe a variety of treatments in order to control the seizures. Treatment types could either be medication or the intake of pills, a special diet such as the ketogenic diet or even brain surgery. In rare cases, doctors can implant a nerve stimulator device called vagus. The vagus can send signals through the vagus nerve located in the neck to control seizures.
Once aware of the disorder certain factors must be avoided so as not to trigger seizures. These triggers include lack of sleep, extreme stress, over stimulation, fever, certain medicines, hyperventilation and flashing bright lights.
The development in the study of epilepsy in the medical world paints a bright future not only for people with epilepsy but also for their families and friends.
With the speedy progress in modern science, the exact cause of epilepsy can soon be pinpointed and eventually effective and convenient treatments will be developed. At this point however, knowledge, understanding and a support system are the best medications that people with epilepsy can rely on.
Is Epilepsy Genetic?
Well, you might get worried of having this disorder, when you discover that it runs in the family. Let’s further elaborate who can get epilepsy. Epilepsy is capable of developing in any person at any age. Statistics show that approximately 0.5 percent to two percent of people can have epilepsy all throughout their lives.
This condition makes it a lifetime problem for victims of epilepsy who may be at greater risk. In the US, there are nearly about 2.7 million Americans who were treated for such disorder. And it was found out that more men suffered from epilepsy than women.
Read more here about: Is Epilepsy Genetic?
Almost 2.7 million Americans have been afflicted with epilepsy. That means 9 out of every 1000 Americans have the disorder.
Although statistics show that more men are afflicted with epilepsy than women, everybody is susceptible to having epilepsy. It can happen to any body, of any race and at any age. However, people with certain conditions are at greater risk of acquiring epilepsy.
It can be remembered that in the twentieth century, some states in America banned people from marrying for fear of passing on the disease to their children. Some even had to go through sterilization to prevent reproduction. This is due to the widespread belief that epilepsy is 100 per cent hereditary. This practice only stopped with the passage of the Disabilities Act.
And yet, although epilepsy is not necessarily inherited, the family members of a person with epilepsy have a higher risk of developing the disease. The siblings of a child with epilepsy, for example, are more likely to develop the disorder. This is not because epilepsy is contagious but is due to the likelihood of a genetic tendency to develop epilepsy.
More so, epilepsy is more likely to occur in siblings of the child who suffers from generalized seizures. In fact about 4 to 10 per cent of the other children in the family will develop epilepsy. But this still depends on the type of epilepsy and the number of afflicted family members.
In addition, children of parents with epilepsy are also at a greater risk of developing epilepsy, pegged at 5 per cent. The risk for children whose father has epilepsy is slightly higher than children whose mother has the disorder. However, the risk is even higher if both parents have epilepsy.
Although genetics is a risk factor in developing epilepsy, the risk is relatively low and should not be a cause of great alarm. In addition, even if the children develop the disorder, most of them will definitely outgrow epilepsy by the time they become adults. The advances in modern medicine make it possible to control seizures.
Age is another factor in the development of epilepsy. Although the disorder can strike at any age, children and teenagers are more susceptible. In fact, almost 50 per cent of all cases of epilepsy occur before ten years of age while 30 per cent of the cases are those with ages 10-19. The remaining 13 per cent are people aged 20-29 while ten per cent are those aged 30 and above.
Although children have a higher risk of developing the disorder, they tend to experience a reduction in frequency and intensity of the seizures as they grow into adulthood. Some even outgrew the disorder completely.
In addition to the genetic and age factors, people with certain conditions pose a greater risk of developing epilepsy. Studies confirm that up to 5 per cent of the world’s total population may experience a single seizure at one point in their lives. Half of seizure cases without a clear cause are more likely to suffer a second seizure within a span of six months.
Having two of such seizures, there is 80 per cent chance that it is epilepsy.
Although the exact cause of epilepsy cannot be pinpointed, there are known factors that double the chances of developing epilepsy. Such risk factors include the following:
• Babies who experience seizures during their first month
• Babies with inborn abnormal brain structures
• Babies who are too small for their gestational age
• Brain hemorrhage or internal bleeding
• Abnormal or unstable blood vessels in the brain
• Brain injuries
• Lack of oxygen to the brain
• Cerebral Palsy
• Brain infections such as abscess, encephalitis and meningitis
• Brain tumors
• Mental illness
• Stroke due to the blockage of arteries
• Early posttraumatic seizures
• Degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s disease
• Drug abuse
• Fever-related seizures
Even though finding out the cause of epilepsy is nearly impossible, the best thing one can do is to avoid the so-called seizure triggers such as intoxication, nutritional deficiencies, over-the-counter drugs that decrease the effectiveness of seizure medicines, severe stress, lack of sleep, drug abuse and missed medications.
Epilepsy, Moods and Behavior, and Sleep
If your loved one is suffering from epilepsy, don’t be surprised if he starts behaving unnaturally and his moods are swinging back and forth from happiness to misery like a pendulum. Don’t be surprised as well if he’s having troubles with his sleeps. These are all expected to happen when one is suffering from epilepsy. All you can do is try your best to understand his condition fully and show your care and support.
Possible Mood and Behavioral Changes Displayed by Epileptic Patients
There are various ways that an epileptic’s mood or behavior will change because of his condition. Be alert for any changes so that you can take the necessary action to help your loved one feel better.
Dysphoria – This is a mood disorder in which an individual experiences the absence of happiness in his life. There may be instances that your loved one will feel dysphoric and nothing you do can seem to make him even marginally happy.
Anxiety Disorders – Anxiety is also a typical reaction for people suffering from epilepsy. Panic attacks, which are an indication of anxiety disorders, even bear a strong resemblance to epileptic seizures that people have a hard time distinguishing one from another.
People who suffer from anxiety disorders prior to being diagnosed of being epileptic as well may suffer twice as much since they now have two reasons to feel anxious. If it’s the same case for your loved one, it’s best that you approach his physician immediately.
Depression – If your loved one feels tired for no reason at all or for a long period of time, if he seems to have lost interest in things or people he used to be fond of, if he seems to be experiencing sleep disorders, if he suddenly loses or gains weight for no apparent reason, and if he appears to find it difficult to concentrate, those are common signs of depression.
Irritability – A person suffering from epilepsy may also display an overly irritable attitude all of a sudden. Things that he used to delight on will suddenly have characteristics or properties that offend him.
Agitation – Epileptic patients sometimes appear agitated for no reason at all. The smallest things may cause them to panic, even those that didn’t use to faze him in the past.
Aggression – Even the most mild-mannered individual can suddenly become overly aggressive if he has been suffering the more serious effects of epilepsy.
Hyperactivity – Epileptics may either feel inordinately lazy to do anything or hyperactive. Restlessness and doing things excessively characterize hyperactivity.
Hallucinations and Delusions – Some epileptic patients may also suffer from hallucinations and delusions. If your loved one is suffering from this, it’s best that you ask your loved one’s psychologist first the best way to address this problem as solutions depend on a case-to-case basis.
Epilepsy and Sleep
The worst sleep trouble that an epileptic patient can experience is having a seizure in an unconscious state. If this happens, here’s what you can do.
If there are any sharp objects nearby, or anything that may harm him, remove them immediately because your loved one might start moving excessively due to his seizures.
When you notice the seizure slowing down or losing strength, that’s the only time you can move your loved one and place him in the recovery position to facilitate breathing.
When your loved one regains consciousness, calmly and quietly give him all the assurances he need. Make sure that he doesn’t panic or feel anything negative as this may lead to another seizure.
Stay at your loved one’s side until he falls back to sleep and his breathing resumes a normal pattern.
Adjusting to the mood and behavioral changes of an epileptic patient isn’t easy thing to do. You need to ask advice from an expert because you could end up suffocating him with your care or giving him too little of your attention.
Epilepsy is one of those medical conditions that are difficult for the patient but harder for the loved ones because it’s unbearable to see your loved one suffering and know that there’s little you can do to help him. If you and your loved ones cooperate however, you can make your suffering family member have a better and happier life in spite of his condition.
When to seek Medical Advice:
Since epilepsy is congenital, it can live with you for the rest of your life. Hence, you don’t have to be bothered a lot. There are prescribed medicines out there that can help you ease your seizure attacks. Thus, in one way or another, when taken properly together with a healthy lifestyle, medicines can help you become seizure-free.
Even though there is no guarantee of being cured from epilepsy, you cannot conclude that epilepsy is incurable. Serious attacks can be prevented and controlled. However, even if medicines can help in making a person free from seizure in quite some time, there is still a need to be very careful concerning likely accidents.
Sixty percent of epileptic people who are experiencing seizures can be easily controlled and more likely to go away. But still, there are twenty-five percent who may develop serious seizures that are likely to be treated lifetime. As it has been said, more than ½ of childhood epilepsy can be outgrown. Nevertheless, if ever someone is declared as seizure-free for about 1-3 years, medications can be withdrawn and stopped when advised by a doctor.
Epilepsy is a condition characterized by repeated seizures that may include recurring muscle wrenching called convulsions. A seizure on the other hand is an abrupt disorder of the normal brain activity accompanied by altered consciousness and/or other behavioral and neurological manifestations. Seizure is sometimes referred to as a “fit” or an “attack”. There are different types of seizure. Epileptic seizures are all caused by interrupted signals, and so start in the brain.
Every year, about 125,000 new cases of epilepsy are diagnosed. In the United States alone, 1-2% of the population is affected by epilepsy. Although epilepsy is common among children under age of 10 and adults over age of 60, 25% of all cases have found to be developed by the age of 5.
There are no accurate tests that can really say if someone has epilepsy. Diagnosing epilepsy can be very difficult and very critical in maintaining a productive and healthy lifestyle. It can best be done through careful observation and documentation of the symptoms accompanied by family and personal medical history evaluation, proper neurological testing and thorough medical examination. Much of diagnosis on epilepsy is based upon observing the patient before, during and after a seizure.
An exact description of what happens to a person during his or her seizure is important to avoid misdiagnosis that can cause the ailment to persist.
The following are guidelines that can help in obtaining an accurate description of seizure:
1. Chronologically describe what happens to the patient.
2. Time the seizure whenever possible.
3. The patient or a family member should maintain a diary of seizure log with information such as dates, time and descriptions of seizures.
The descriptions may also include answers to the questions listed below:
• What was the person doing and where is he/she located before the seizure?
• Were there any warnings that the seizure was about to happen?
• Were there any mood changes- was the person anxious, excited, angry, or quite?
• Did the person talk about any unusual sensations, such as an odd taste or bad odor?
• What made you recognize the seizure? For example, did the person fall? Was there noise; did the person’s head turn or eyes roll?
• Did he/she lose consciousness? Was he/she confused?
• Are there any changes in the color of the person’s face, lips or hands?
• Did any of the body parts jerk, stiffen or twitch and if so which parts?
• Did the breathing change, become noisy, or look difficult?
• Did he/she do anything unusual such as wander about, mumble, or fiddle with his/her clothing?
• Did the person wet himself/herself?
• Did the person bite his/her cheek or tongue?
• How long did the seizure occur?
• What is the condition of the person after the seizure?
• Did the person want to sleep?
• How long was it before they acted normal?
• Other things noticeable?
Various methods being used by medical profession to diagnose epilepsy are as follows:
1. EEG (electroencephalogram) monitoring, the commonly used method to confirm suspicions epilepsy. It records the electrical activity of the brain. Although EEG is widely used, it can yield inaccurate results and can also fail to identify epilepsy.
2. CT (computerized tomography) is used to evaluate the cause and location of epilepsy. It can conceal tumors, structural damage and scarred tissue. This can also identify a reduction of seizure frequency. CT scan proves to be useful however; it can only show pictures of the brain horizontally.
3. MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) - a method similar to CT scan, but is more advance because it can possibly take pictures of the brain from almost all angles. Another advantage is that there is no radiation involved in producing an MRI scan.
It is important to keep in mind that those experiencing seizures do not necessarily mean that they have epilepsy. Accurate diagnosis therefore must be done to help the person and the physician.
There are several conditions which have been misdiagnosed as epilepsy including:
• Breath-holding spells, a cry or scream
• Febrile seizures which is common among children; this is induced by a high temperature
• Transient ischemic attacks (TIA), short interruptions of blood flow towards the brain
• Psychiatric disorders, panic attacks,
• Syncope - an abrupt loss of consciousness due to a sudden decrease in blood flow to the brain
• Tics – sounds involving several groups of muscle
There are various types of epilepsy and seizures along with a wide range of treatments suited to different degrees. Proper observation of the ailment is vital to distinguish the enormity of treatment to be applied. Seizures are sudden disorder in the normal brain activity; repeated seizures characterize epilepsy. Preventing seizures first will help fight epilepsy.
One kind of seizure is the so-called “epileptic seizures”. There is a variety of treatment for epileptic seizures that aims to prevent or control the attacks. Eighty percent of patients with epilepsy have undergone successful treatment. Although some patients are only healed partially, a good number have gone through successful treatments.
The following are some treatments to combat epileptic seizures:
1. Medications – the primary means to treat epilepsy is through epileptic drugs. The kind of medicine, dosage and its side effects are important for the treatment to be effective. The amount of dosage to be given will depend on the seriousness of a seizure.
Some of the widely distributed drugs for epileptic patients are:
Carbamazepine- for treating partial seizure. These medicines are more effective among children. Most patients however complained of blurred or double vision after taking the medication; others have allergic reactions and develop skin rashes.
Valproate – for treating wider variety of seizures. These drugs are more effective among adults. The side effects are gain in weight and sedation.
Phenobarbitone – the most used drug nowadays; which is easy to use, cheap and effective. It has side effects though such as hyper activeness among children and sedation among adults.
Lamotrigine- used to help control epileptic seizures. These drugs calm brain when there is a seizure and can stabilize moods. The side effect of lamotrigine is that it can be addictive.
Other new drugs are Vigabatrin, Gabapentin, Topiramate Barbiturates Clonazepam Clobazam that altogether aim to reduce if not eliminate seizure attacks.
2. Surgery. Approximately 20% of patients can’t control seizures through medication. Before deciding to undergo surgery, a thorough examination should be done. The physician may also consider the frequency of symptoms and which part of the brain is involved.
Some kinds of surgery, which is used to treat epilepsy, are:
Multiple Subpial Transection (MST) - involves cutting nerve fibers along the outer layer of brain. This aims to stop the spread of seizure to other parts of brain without affecting the normal abilities of the patient. About 70% of the patient improves through this surgery.
Lesionectomy or Lobectomy – the part of the brain that produces seizures will be removed. This is only advisable to patients who are experiencing partial seizure.
Corpus Callosotomy – prevents seizures by cutting the connections of nerve between the left and right brain hemispheres. This usually involves two steps. An operation of one half of the brain is performed on the first surgery; if seizures stop, there’s no need for further surgery; otherwise, a second operation will be done. This operation is usually performed among children.
Hemispherectomy. This operation involves the removal of cortex or a half of outer layer of the brain. The operation can be drastic thus should only serve as last resort. Intensive rehabilitation is needed after the surgery to regain the normal body activities. Patients usually recover but there is a gradual weakness of one side of the body. The loss of peripheral vision is also cited as a side effect.
3. A Change in Lifestyle – start with a good nutrition. Patients undergoing epileptic seizures, specifically children who have poor tolerance to medications are advised to undergo diet. One type is the Ketogonic Diet that aims to provide energy to the body by breaking down fats instead of carbohydrates.
A list of dietary foods to be consumed is given to the patients and this should be followed rigorously. 75% of the patients who performed the diet showed that this kind of diet decreased seizure frequency by as high as 90%.
Although there is a high success rate, there are still side effects related to Ketogenic Diet such as hampered growth, increase in uric acid that leads to development of kidney stones and possibility of developing heart diseases because of high intake of fats.
The goal of all treatments is to prevent or control epileptic seizures. Medication is proven to be the widely used and generally the most acceptable way to treat and manage epilepsy. While medication and surgery goes hand in hand in treating epilepsy, lifestyle changes are also recommended.
This proves that the cooperation of the patient is highly required for a better and faster cure. Any treatment will be futile if the patient will resist and will not be dutiful in following the prescription of the physician.
What is SUDEP?
First things first, SUDEP basically means sudden unexpected death in epilepsy. SUDEP is used as a term when a particular person who has epilepsy dies suddenly and the cause of death is unknown.
The cause is clearly neither pathological nor clinical. There have been cases wherein epileptic patients have been found lying on bed (no longer breathing and it seems their breathing stopped during their sleep) and with no seizure seen to have occurred.
This is where the sudden death comes from as an otherwise healthy person suddenly dies.
This is when the death is not caused by an injury, drowning, after a seizure or a severe and prolonged seizure.
The causes of SUDEP
Believe it or not, the real cause of SUDEP is not specifically known. If ever a post exam mortem is made on a particular person who has died of SUDEP, there is really no abnormal cause that could be seen that could account for such a person’s death.
There are actually many theories on why someone who has epilepsy may suddenly die. One such theory is that seizures could have affected a part of a person’s brain that controls breathing and the heart functions. When a seizure happens, these functions stop.
Another cause of SUDEP is cardiac arrest that is irreversible. One theory suggests that electric discharge from the brain could cause changes in the heart’s electrical status, thereby affecting its heart rhythm.
Is SUDEP common?
SUDEP risk is really small for a lot of people who has epilepsy. In the United Kingdom alone, there have been five hundred SUDEP deaths.
However, compare such a number to those people who actually have epilepsy, and it is actually rare.
A lot of people who have epilepsy actually get to live a normal life and do not suffer or die from SUDEP.
The fact of the matter is that most people who die of SUDEP have had seizures that are generalized tonic clonic in nature, especially for those young adults.
One of the major factors that bring the risk of SUDEP is one’s poor control over the seizures and those seizures that occur when one sleeps.
For those who have epilepsy that is severe, estimates reveal that one person out of two hundred die and suffer from SUDEP every year.
However, for those who have epilepsy that is idiopathically mild, estimates show that one person in a thousand die and suffer from SUDEP annually.
Can SUDEP risk be lessened?
Having epilepsy-induced death could be considerably lessened through the prevention of seizures. This is usually achieved through medication.
For some people suffering from epilepsy, surgery is actually used in order to prevent any seizures during the instance when taking medication is not successful.
There are cases that seizures were not fully stopped.
Who are more prone to SUDEP?
• Basically, those who have refractory epilepsy (or those that have poor control of their seizures) are more prone to SUDEP.
• Also, those patients who are quite young and have a history of tonic generalized clonic seizures. This also includes those having a history of epilepsy for two years.
• Those who take two anti epilepsy drugs, especially if combined with agents that are psychiatric in nature.
• People who comply poorly with medications that are anti-epileptic.
• People who abuse alcohol.
• People who are alone when a seizure happens.
Is SUDEP preventable?
• As much as possible, keeping appointments with your doctor is necessary. This is so that any changes are instantly monitored and medications are adjusted accordingly.
• Taking your medications regularly is also necessary. Also, any changes in dosage or immediate withdrawal from a particular drug must be avoided.
• A healthy lifestyle should also be adopted. Adequate and regular sleeping patterns must be maintained and regular exercise is necessary. Eating nutritious food regularly is also vital.
• Being able to cope with stress also helps in keeping seizures to a minimum.
• Avoiding street drugs and alcohol is also necessary.
• It is also helpful if the company you keep knows what to do during your seizures.
All in all, SUDEP is preventable as long as you make it so. As much as possible, prevention is always better than a pound of cure. It saves time, effort and stress in the long run for those suffering from epilepsy and for those whom you know is suffering from epilepsy.
Self Care strategies for Living with Epilepsy
Although people with epilepsy do lead normal lives, certain precautions still have to be taken, due to the sporadic nature of seizures. For people with infrequent or controlled seizures, it is safe to engage in most activities. For people with frequent seizures however, certain activities must be limited.
For example, people with epilepsy can still engage in strenuous activities such as swimming and hiking provided that they have a companion. They can also drive as long as they are under medical control.
And most of all, it is important to inform the people around the person with epilepsy about his or her condition. The family, friends, officemates and even the co-students and teachers, must be informed about the disorder and given instructions as to what to do in case of seizures.
Epilepsy may sound scary and frightening, but actually, living with epilepsy can be manageable provided that precautions are always taken. One has to get plenty of sleep, regularly take medication, exercise and eat right.
And most importantly, knowledge and understanding of the disorder on the part of the person with epilepsy, their family and society in general are vital. Correct information leads to understanding what is essential in making the lives of persons with epilepsy better.
How Does Epilepsy Affect Thinking and Memory
Epilepsy is one of the scariest disorders in the world because it can severely affect major functions of our body such as our capacity to think and remember things. If your loved one is suffering from epilepsy, it’s important that you do your best to help them cope with their condition without making them feel like they’re a burden to you.
Before trying to understand how epilepsy affects a patient’s memory, you must first understand how our memory generally works. Memory is one of the most important abilities of the brain. It functions in three ways:
Learn – It receives new information and comprehends what it means.
Store – When the new information is comprehended, it is then stored inside the brain.
Retrieve – If there’s a need to recall that particular information, the brain “searches” for it inside its storage bin.
Secondly, our brain possesses several types of memories:
• Long Term Memories – These are memories that we have retained for several years. Semantic memories refer to factual knowledge while episodic memories refer to episodes or events in our lives that we can recall.
• Remote Memories – These refer to memories that happened far back in the past.
• Recent Memories – These refer to any fact or incident that happened in recent times and which we can recall.
• Prospective Memories – These refer to things or intentions meant for future use.
• Short Term Memories – These refer to information that we may deliberately or unconsciously store inside our minds in a temporary basis only.
• Procedural Memories – These refer to information we’ve stored inside our brains in relation to how a particular thing or process is accomplished.
And now, we go to the link between epilepsy and memory. The sad thing is all the functions and types of memories are vulnerable to epilepsy. Any or all of them can be affected at any time.
Epileptic Effects On Thinking And Memory
There are several reasons why the memory and thinking functions of a patient’s brain are affected by epilepsy. The more frequent seizures happen, the more difficult it is for the patient to revert back to normal.
Seizures – Which part of the brain is affected by an epileptic seizure will have its corresponding consequence. If the frontal lobe, for instance, is the unfortunate target of an epileptic seizure, the patient will have a hard time recalling what it intends to do in the future.
Drugs – The medications that the patient takes to treat its condition may have negative side effects and which might include causing memory or thinking problems. The higher the dosage, the more probable it is for the patient to experience side effects because of its medication.
Surgery – Some epileptic patients may be required to undergo surgery as part of their treatment. If this happens, it’s also possible that the patient will experience memory problems after the operation.
Moods – The way a person feels about his condition can also lead him to experience memory problems later on. As he feels more and more depressed, his brain is slowly affected as well.
Age – The older the patient, the more probable it is for him to experience memory problems as well. In this case however the result is to be expected.
How to Help Your Loved Ones Cope with Memory and Thinking Problems Caused by Epilepsy
Firstly, it’s important that you make your loved one accept his situation. If he insists on denying what’s happening to him, he won’t be able to move on and help himself.
Secondly, you must make it clear that he’s not to blame, and that you naturally don’t blame him for his condition. Let him feel that he’s not a burden to any of you.
Start getting used to listing down things on sticky notes so that anytime your loved one forgets something because of his condition, he’ll only have to look at those notes to remember.
Never show impatience or frustration when your loved one is exhibiting difficulty in recalling something. Doing so is the surest way of alienating your loved one and making him unable to confide his problems to you.
Epilepsy can make your family disintegrate…or it can make you all closer to each other. Obviously, it’s better if the latter happens, but that will only be possible if all of you work together.
How to live when you have or someone you love has epilepsy
Living with someone who has epilepsy or if you have epilepsy yourself is somewhat difficult, but it is extremely do-able.
Though there are bumps along the way, nothing is really impossible as long as one is clearly focused and intent on living a normal and natural way, with or without epilepsy.
The following are some of the issues people with epilepsy usually encounter, as well as some helpful advice to make life as productive as possible.
An epilepsy diagnosis has implications in one’s life that extend to work, relationships and school. Epilepsy need not be a condition that is debilitating. Managing it is best for one’s self and especially for those that are around you.
Know what triggers your epilepsy
Believe it or not, one’s lifestyle has a tremendous influence on how and when seizures occur.
It has been shown that one in about twenty people who has epilepsy is actually sensitive to lights that are flashing.
Seizures could also be induced by TV programs, strobe lights and video games.
There are also people whose seizures are brought about by excessive drinking of alcohol; drugs that are recreational in nature and from sleep lack.
Stress also plays a part in increasing the frequency of seizures.
Be safe anywhere and everywhere
There are certain situations that are high risk for someone with epilepsy. Some of these activities are scuba diving, mountain climbing, hang-gliding, and so should very well be avoided.
However, it is important that life should not be restricted when one has epilepsy.
Swimming is possible, however it is vital that someone is knowledgeable of epilepsy and knows the exact thing to do when a seizure does occur.
The attendant of the pool must also be informed.
When inside the home, showers are actually a lot safer compared to the bath.
However, baths should be shallow and that the door to the bathroom must always be unlocked when someone with epilepsy is taking a bath.
Guards should also be used in open fires, cookers and radiators. Also, using a microwave is a lot more advisable compared to using cookers.
Also, if you observe that your seizures have caused you to fall a lot more times, using a helmet for protection is extremely advisable.
Using alarms that are automatically triggered by such falls is especially important for those people with epilepsy who live alone.
First aid for those with epilepsy
When a seizure does occur, the best way to handle it is by moving any dangerous or lethal objects a good distance from the person who has the seizures.
Immediately move the epileptic person if he or she is in a very dangerous place such as on a road or at the top stairs.
Be with the person having the seizures until their full recovery.
When a convulsion does occur, make sure that you monitor just how long these seizures last. This is because such prolonged seizures could require immediate medical help.
Also, it is important that nothing be placed inside the mouth of the person having the seizure. There is really no danger of the person swallowing their own tongue, though placing an object inside the person’s mouth could damage the teeth.
What is necessary is placing a pillow or anything soft under the head of the person having the seizure in order to prevent any injury.
Restricting the movements brought about by the convulsions should be avoided as this could hurt yourself or the person.
Any clothing that is too tight on the neck should be loosened. This includes necklaces. Once the convulsion has subsided, turn that person to his left and try to remain with that person until they are able to fully recover from the seizure.
Nothing should obstruct their breathing.
However, if the convulsions are longer than 5 minutes or if the convulsions are repeating themselves, it is best to contact an ambulance.
When driving, a person who has had a seizure must inform the DVLA or Driver Vehicle Licensing Authority.
When at work, professions that are barred by the law as not for those who have epilepsy include being a pilot for an aircraft, driver for an ambulance, taxi driver, a seaman, armed service, fireman, and police officer.
All in all, epilepsy is manageable as long as you are prepared with the necessary precautions to prevent it as well as know what to do once the seizures occur.
Diet change strategies:
Nutrition and diet for those with epilepsy
Wouldn’t it be good if your kid who has epilepsy will be less prone to seizures through just eating a diet that is rich in protein and have a lot less carbohydrates?
Believe it or not, the first ever comprehensive study on the possibility of using diet in the treatment of epilepsy has been published.
The Atkins Diet for epilepsy patients
One of the regimens included the Atkins Diet, a low-carb kind of diet that was proven to be effective in suppressing seizures in epileptic patients.
The study has been published in the review Epilepsy Currents. The same study also explored the possible benefits of low-carbohydrates, high protein dietary therapies as well as a restricted diet for epileptic patients.
Though admittedly, Atkins diet was considered as an unhealthy way to diet, it has also been shown to curb fits especially to children who has epilepsy. This was proven by a group of scientists in the United States.
A total of six epilepsy patients, three of them kids with ages that do not exceed twelve years old, have been kept to a low carb and a diet high in fat. They were studied by the researchers from the John Hopkins centre for children in Baltimore
It was shown that the kids remained free from any epileptic seizures between 4 and twenty months. The kids were also able to have lower intake dose of their medication.
However, caution is also advised as the study was conducted to only six patients. It is actually more vital to know which patients may find the Atkins diet work to their benefit.
The ketogenic diet for epilepsy patients
Another diet that is being used to help sufferers of epilepsy is the ketogenic diet. This diet involves the intake of low carbohydrates food, sufficient protein and high fat.
The ketogenic diet is currently the most famous diet therapy among the community of people with epilepsy.
Believe it or not, the ketogenic diet was created in the year 1921 in order to mimic the effects of the effects of fasting – which was proven to be anti-convulsant, and has the ability to suppress epileptic seizures.
The ketogenic diet is also usually involved with the norepinephrine transporter (NE) knockout. NE shows effects that are anti-ictal against various proconvulsants.
NE was also shown to dramatically decrease the severity of seizures in mice that were fed diets that are normal.
Since the ketogenic diet is low in carbs and high in a lot of fat, the human body is therefore forced to burn off the fat in order to have energy. This process is then termed as ketosis.
The study reveals that such an energy shift results in an effect that is anti convulsant, however the specific mechanics of how this happens is not clearly understood.
The PUFA diet for epilepsy patients
There is another dietary treatment for epilepsy patients who are within the illness’ initial stages.
This diet is high in fatty polyunsaturated acids or PUFA. This has been considered as a good option in controlling seizures.
A PUFA enriched diet has been shown to help in the development of the brain as well as decrease the nerve cells excitability (thereby inducing the seizures).
Also, a PUFA enriched diet may assist against the debilitating and degenerative after effects of Alzheimer’s.
Are these diets a success?
It has been shown that such diets were successful in some points, however the drawbacks were in the diet implementation.
Success though has been seen much with Atkins compared to the other forms of diet, as epilepsy patients found this diet as a lot easier to comply with.
Basically, a doctor has expressed the fact that current knowledge in terms of the relation between epilepsy and nutrition is at its infant stage right now.
Currently, diet treatments for epilepsy are a bit premature. However, there are potential positive dietary benefits on the horizon.
All in all, such diet treatments could be done along with the traditional epilepsy medication taken. Being sensitive and aware of the food eaten by a person with epilepsy could help in curbing the epileptic fits as well as help make his body a lot healthier. The dietary treatments are basically beneficial in more ways than one.
Using Ayurveda Therapy:
In the natural form of treatment, the sufferer from epilepsy has to follow a rigorous regimen
consisting of a strict dietary, complete relaxation and optimum exercise in the open air. He must
adhere to a simple and correct natural life. He must assume a cheerful, optimistic attitude,
refrain from mental and physical overwork and worry.
The most important aspect of the treatment is the diet. To begin with, the patient should be
placed on an exclusive fruit diet for first few days. During this period he should have three meals
a day of fresh juicy fruits such as oranges, apples, grapes, grapefruit, peaches, pears, pineapple
Thereafter, he may gradually adopt a well balanced diet of three basic food groups
viz. (i) seeds, nuts and grains, (ii) vegetables and (iii) fruits with emphasis on sprouted seeds
such as alfalfa seeds and mung beans, raw vegetables and fruits. The diet should include a
moderate amount of raw milk preferably goat’s milk and milk products such as raw butter and
homemade cottage cheese.
The diet should eliminate completely all animal proteins, except milk, as they not only lack in
magnesium,but also rob the body of its own magnesium storage as well as of vitamin B6. Both
these substances are needed in large amounts by epileptics.
The best food sources of
magnesium are raw nuts, seeds, soyabeans , green leafy vegetables such as spinach, kale,
beet-tops etc. The patient should avoid all refined foods, fried and greasy food, sugar and
products made with it, strong tea, coffee, alcoholic beverages, condiments and pickles.
The patient should avoid over eating and take frequent small meals rather than a few large ones.
He should not eat large meals before going to bed.
Mud packs on the abdomen twice daily help remove toxaemic conditions of the intestines and
thereby hasten removal of epileptic conditions. The application of alternate hot and cold
compresses to the base of the brain, that is at the back of the head will be beneficial.
procedure is to dip the feet in a bucket of hot water and apply first a hot towel and then a cold
one to the base of the brain. The alternate hot and cold towels should be kept for two or three
minutes about four times. The process shall be repeated twice every day. Full Epsom-salt bath,
twice a week are also beneficial.
If the sufferer from epilepsy has taken strong drugs for many years, he should not leave off
entirely all at once. The dosage may be cut to half to begin with and then gradually reduced
further until it can be left off completely.
An epileptic should strictly observe all the natural laws of good health and build and maintain the
highest level of general health. He should remain active mentally but avoid all severe mental and
physical stress. And above all, he should avoid excitements of all kinds.
Vitamin & Nutrient Associations
Even when we try to eat well, we're disadvantaged. The nutritional content of most food has been compromised over the years, not only by deficient soils and modern production, transportation, storage and processing methods, but also by the enormous amounts of chemical and artificial substances added to promote growth, storage life, taste and appearance.
It's for this reason that more and more medical authorities are advocating the use of vitamin and mineral supplements. However, finding them in the right combination can be both confusing and costly.
Good quality nutrition products make use of knowledge gained from the botanical world's 6,000 year history. They incorporate health building nutritional herbs with the best modern technology to help our bodies cleanse and detoxify so that the cells - the tiniest living units - can be as fully nourished as possible.
This allows the cells to grow, repair and to perform their functions with the best possible efficiency so that we feel and look better and are more able to prevent and fight disease. Once the body begins to clear itself of toxins it can more efficiently absorb nutrition.
You may find benefit from our information on detoxification as well as a bit about detoxing because of change of diet
It may be due to difficulties with your digestive system that is causing your body to be starved of key nutrients, vitamins or minerals. In this case you may find useful answers by reviewing our article on Nutrition For Your Cells. There is also more information here about why is nutrition such an issue nowadays?
It may be that your metabolism has slowed due to pressures that have been placed on your system through life in general or through specific “challenges” you have faced in the last few months or last few years. Review this by looking at our article about balancing your Metabolic Rate.
Further reading through our articles on Epilepsy health issues will give you a body of information that will help you decide what options you have to deal with the underlying causes of your problem through giving your body the nutrition products that will assist you body to heal from the inside out.
We wish you well in your search for solutions to this Epilepsy problem and your movement towards better health in all areas.
More Resources available about Epilepsy :
What Are Epilepsy Seizures?
A seizure is the number one manifestation or symptom of epilepsy. It is a sudden charge of electrical activity in the brain, particularly in the outside rim called the cortex.
This abnormal electrical discharge drastically alters how a person feels or behaves for a short amount of time. Some seizures are totally disabling while other attacks can hardly be noticed.
Seizures vary from person to person. Each attack can last anywhere from mere seconds to several minutes, depending on the type of seizure. Some very rare cases can even last for hours!
(To read the rest of this article click on the Title above here.)
The History of Epilepsy
Epilepsy is a serious disease that currently afflicts millions of people around the world. But did you know that epilepsy has already existed and puzzled our ancestors as far back as the start of human existence?
In fact early medical writings as early as 3000 years ago, show that no disease has sparked so much interest and controversy among the early people than epilepsy.
However, our ancestors believed that epilepsy was an act of supernatural beings. The Babylonians, for one, believed that seizures were caused by demons attacking the person.
The ancient Greeks on the other hand, believed that one will be afflicted with epilepsy by offending Selene, the goddess of the moon and in order to cure the disease, one has to eat mistletoe that has been picked without the aid of a blade during the time the moon is smallest in the sky.
(To read the rest of this article click on the Title above here.)
Is Epilepsy Genetic?
First we review our definition of epilepsy: Epilepsy is a condition or a disorder characterized by sudden surges of disorganized electrical impulses in the brain that eventually leads to seizures. In other medical books, it is defined as “a neurological condition that affects the nervous system. Technical terms call it a seizure disorder.
A seizure is not a disease. It is a symptom of a lot of disorders that in some way can affect the brain. A brain injury may cause seizures and thus may eventually lead to epilepsy. However, if you have a family tendency of having epilepsy, then you are prone to seizures since it is a common symptom observed. Hence, most of the time, the cause of epilepsy is unknown.
(To read the rest of this article click on the Title above here.)
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