Epilepsy Symptoms, Causes And Treatment
Seizures are the main epilepsy symptoms. Epilepsy affects people in varying degrees.
Epileptic seizures range from simple staring spells to loss of consciousness and violent convulsions.
The type of seizure a person has depends on a number of factors, such as what triggered the seizure and where in the brain it originates.
Most seizures only last a minute or two and are accompanied by an aura or euphoric sensation that occurs prior to the event and may last for several minutes after the event.
Epilepsy is often associated with other health problems. Persons with epilepsy may develop other disorders such as depression, anxiety, migraine headaches, and obesity.
In some cases, the presence of one or more of these other conditions may impact a person's health more than their incidence of seizures. If you experience symptoms related to other medical conditions, talk to your doctor about managing them while maintaining your treatment for epilepsy.
Causes of Epilepsy:
The causes of epilepsy include brain damage resulting from malformations of brain development, neurosurgical operations, head trauma, other penetrating wounds of the brain, brain tumor, high fever, bacterial or viral encephalitis, intoxication, stroke, or acute or inborn disturbances of metabolism. Hereditary or genetic factors can also be the causes of epilepsy.
Diagnostic studies must be adapted to individual patients. Basic laboratory evaluation focuses on detecting systemic disturbances potentially associated with seizures and includes a complete blood count and measurements of electrolytes, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, blood urea nitrogen, creatinine and glucose.
Consideration also should be given to obtaining a toxicology screen and evaluating hepatic function with synthetic and enzyme studies. Most authorities recommend that all epilepsy patients who experience an unprovoked seizure undergo a brain imaging study in an attempt to detect underlying cerebral lesions.
In non-urgent cases, the imaging modality of choice is magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), since it is more sensitive than computed tomography (CT) in identifying these lesions.
In epilepsy patients presenting with a seizure in which the history or examination suggests new focal deficits, persistent altered mental status, fever, recent trauma, persistent headache, cancer, treatment with anticoagulation or immunocompromised state, emergent neuroimaging is recommended.
This is usually accomplished with a CT scan, given its extensive availability and speed and its superior ability in the detection of acute hemorrhage, compared with MRI.
Electroencephalography (EEG) is often helpful in the assessment of epilepsy patients presenting with a seizure. The utility of EEG includes detection of epileptic form activity, strengthening the putative diagnosis; identification of focal electro cerebral abnormalities suggesting a focal structural brain lesion; and documentation of specific epileptiform patterns associated with particular epilepsy syndromes.
First aid for a seizure as it's occurring is certainly an important part of epilepsy treatment. "No seizures, no side effects" is the motto for epilepsy treatment.
Epilepsy treatment is usually done with medication prescribed by a physician; primary caregivers, neurologists, and neurosurgeons all frequently care for people with epilepsy.
In some cases of epilepsy treatment, the implantation of a stimulator of the vagus nerve, or a special diet can be helpful. Neurosurgical operations for epilepsy can be palliative, reducing the frequency or severity of seizures; or, in some patients, an operation can be curative.
For some people, the epilepsy treatment consists of taking a pill once or twice a day for a few years. No seizures, no side effects. Others take many pills year after year. Lots of seizures, plenty of side effects. They may move on to other kinds of epilepsy treatment.
Any plan for the epilepsy treatment will include a physician-prescribed drug regimen for the control of seizures. However, it is important that physicians also take into consideration the particular concerns of each epilepsy patient. Each ant epileptic drug has a particular effectiveness profile.
Some have side effects that include cognitive impairments, sleep disturbance and other adverse effects. Also, keep in mind that therapy and strong social support are likely to play a critical role in achieving this goal.
In addition to drug epilepsy treatment, there are several alternative therapies for people with epilepsy. They include:
- Epilepsy Surgery – for some epilepsy patients, it is possible to have epilepsy surgery to remove the seizure producing areas of the brain. Surgery may be done on children or adults when medicines fail to effectively prevent seizures.
- Vagus Nerve Stimulation – surgical implantation of a generator into the chest that stimulates the vagus nerve in the neck and thus reduces seizure activity (side effects may include cough, sore throat, voice alteration and sleep apnea)
- Alternative/complementary medicines – these are therapeutic approaches that have not been studied and tested using the rigorous methods of modern medical science, but that has been known to help some people. Some examples are herbal remedies and vitamin therapies. Before beginning any alternative therapy, talk to your doctor about possible side effects or negative interactions with your current epilepsy treatment regimen.
Epilepsy - Self care:
When a seizure does occur, there are things people can do to keep the person having the seizure from injuring him or herself. If you or your child has epilepsy, be sure that your family, friends, co-workers, and classmates are aware of the condition and know how to help in the event of a seizure.
If you have epilepsy, always take your medication as prescribed and wear a medical alert bracelet.
Tips to avoid a seizure:
- Lay the person down on his or her side in an area free of sharp objects
- Cushion the person's head
- Clothing should be Loosened, especially around the neck
- Check for a medical ID bracelet that gives instructions on what to do
- Monitor the person's vital signs
- Stay with the person until the episode is over or medical personnel arrive