Whenever we hear about any neurological disease, we get more afraid compared to other diseases. Well, the same happens in the case of epilepsy. Many people believe that it is an untreatable disease & we have seen many people believing in superstition rather than seeking medical help. But what is epilepsy? Is it really untreatable? What are the symptoms? Well, I know you must be having many questions in your mind regarding this. This article will help you to clear your doubts.
To understand the disease in a more detailed manner, it is always better to hear from a specialist. In this article, Dr. Gurneet Sawhney will explain everything that you should know about Epilepsy. He is one of the best neurosurgeon in Mumbai with several years of experience in this field. Dr. GurneetSawhney was also awarded as the “Most Promising Neurosurgeon in Maharashtra – 2016″ by Times Group for eminent work in rural India.
Dr. GurneetSawhney describes epilepsy as achronic central nervous system disorderin which the clusters of neurons in thebrain behave irregularly or aredisrupted causing periods of a strangesensation seizuresabnormal behavior andsometimes loss of consciousness orawareness. The central nervous system isthe part of the nervous system thatcomprises the brain brain stem and thespinalcord.Epilepsy is a neurologicaldisorder that is characterized byrecurring seizures.A quick rush ofelectrical activity in the brain iscalled a seizure.
Signs & Symptoms-
Symptomsexperienced during epilepsy depend onthe part of the brain affected. Epilepsyaffects both males and females of allages. However, it is more common in youngchildren under two years of age andolder adults people with epilepsy are 11times more likely to die than the rest of the population. Overall about 1% of epileptic patientsdie of sudden unexpected death. People with epilepsyalso suffer from some majorpsychological disorders such asdepression anxiety and suicidal thoughts. An uncontrolled and extended seizure canlead to brain damage.
Epilepsyaffects around 70 million peopleworldwide.Any head trauma resulting from anaccident or other traumatic
damage cancause epilepsy infectious. Diseases suchas AIDS, meningitis can also causeepilepsy stroke. The leading cause ofepilepsy in people older than 35 yearsis a stroke, serious illness, very highfever,or lack of oxygen to the brain. Someinherited genetic factors can make somepeople prone to epilepsy. A brain injurythat occurs before birth this could beas a result of an infection in the mother’spoor nutrition or a deficiency of oxygen. Some developmental disorders such asautism or neurofibromatosis can also bea major cause of epilepsy.Scarring inthe brain after a brain injury dementiaor Alzheimer’s disease.
The most common symptom ofepilepsy is a seizure and differs fromperson to person. According to the typeof
seizure, doctors classify seizure aseither focal as in partial andgeneralized focal or partialseizure.
Focal seizures result from abnormalactivity in one part of the brain. Afocalseizure may be simple or complex. Asimple focal seizure is notcharacterized by loss of consciousnessor awareness and the symptoms includedizziness, change in sense of taste,smell, sound, tingling, and twitching oflimb jerking of a body part such as thearm or leg.
A complex focal seizure ischaracterized by loss of consciousnessor awareness and the symptoms mayinclude unresponsiveness to theenvironment, staring blankly into space,performing repetitive movements such ashand rubbing, walking in circles, orchewing.
Thegeneralized seizure involves the wholebrain. There are six types of generalizedseizure symptoms and they include-
- Tonicseizures- These causemusclestiffness. They affect the muscles in the back neckand arm and may lead to a fall.
- Atonicseizures-These cause a loss of musclecontrol and may result in a suddencollapse.
- Absenceseizures-This oftenoccur in children and are characterizedby subtle body movement such as blinkingand staring into space.
- Clonicseizures- These are associated with rhythmic orrepeated jerky muscle movementof the face neck and arm.
- Myoclonicseizures- This causes twitches of the armand leg.
- Tonic-clonicseizures- These are the most dramatic epileptic symptom and maycause stiffening of the body, shaking,loss of consciousness, loss of bladdercontrol, and biting of the tongue.
Indiagnosing epilepsy the followingprocedure may be carried out by your doctor-
- A bloodtest to check the level of glucose, liverand kidney functions, and signs ofinfectious diseases.
- Brain scans may help define the cause of yourseizures. The two most common ones arecomputerized axial tomography or CT scanand magnetic resonance imaging orMRI. The scan shows pictures of the brain. A CT scan uses x-ray to acquire thecross-sectional images of the brain andcan reveal abnormalities in the brainthat might be causing the seizures. TheMRI uses powerful radio and magnet wavesto create a thorough view of the brainabnormalities that caused the seizurecan then be detected.
- positionemissiontherapy that visualizes the active areaof the brain and can detectabnormalities.In this procedure, a smallamount of low dose radioactive substanceis injected into the brain.
- An electroencephalogram or EEG is themost common procedure used in diagnosingepilepsy. In this kind of procedure, apaste-like substance is used inattaching electrodes to your scalp to measure the electricalactivity of your brain changes.
- A single-photon emissioncomputerized tomography test may berecommended. This procedure shows the 3dmap of the blood flow activity in the brainduring a seizure treatment.
- In treatingepilepsy medication is the firstapproach.In the case, where medicationsdon’t treat the condition surgery oranother type of treatment may beproposed. The first line of medication isthe anti-seizure medication that helpsreduce the severity and frequency ofseizure.Depending on the type of seizureyou are experiencing your doctor mayprescribe a single drug or combinationof drugs. Sideeffects of the anti-seizure drug includefatigue memory problems, skin rash, etc.
- Whenmedications fail to provide control overseizures surgery may be an option. Resection is the most common surgicalprocedure carried out. This involvesremoving the part of the brain that’scausing the seizure. The surgery can onlybe performed when the test shows thatthe seizure originates from a smallwell-defined area of your brain andvital functions such as speech motorfunction vision and hearing won’t beaffected by the surgical procedure.
- Thedietary recommendation is best forchildren suffering from epilepsy. Theketogenic diet is mostly implemented. This involves following a strict dietthat is high in fat and low incarbohydrates and is said to be able toreduceseizuresin children.A dietician shouldbe consulted before following this.