Epilepsy is a neurological disorder involving repeated seizures.
A seizure, also called convulsion, is a sudden change in behavior caused by increased electrical activity in the brain.
The increase in electrical activity may result in unconsciousness and violent body shakes or simply a staring spell that may go unseen.
Epilepsy is a disorder with many possible causes. Anything that affects the brain, including tumors and strokes can cause Epilepsy. From illness to brain damage to abnormal brain development, anything that disturbs the normal pattern of neuron activity can lead to seizures.
An abnormality in brain wiring, an imbalance of nerve signaling chemicals called neurotransmitters, or some combination of these factors, which are responsible for developing Epilepsy.
Having a seizure does not necessarily mean that a person has epilepsy. A person is considered as Epilepsy patient, only when a person has had two or more seizures. EEGs and brain scans are common diagnostic test for epilepsy.
Relationship Between Sleep And Epilepsy
There is an intrinsic relationship between sleep and epilepsy. Sleep triggers the electrical charges in the brain, which results in seizures. These seizures are timed in accordance to the sleep wake cycle.
For some people, seizures occur wholly during sleep. This is particularly true for a particular type of epilepsy known as benign focal epilepsy of childhood, also known as Rolandic epilepsy.
When seizures occur during sleep, they may cause awakenings that are sometimes misunderstood as insomnia. Epilepsy patients are often unaware of the seizures that occur while they sleep.
For people with epilepsy, sleep problems are like double-edged sword as epilepsy disturbs sleep and sleep deprivation worsen epilepsy. They may suffer for years from daytime tiredness and attention problems without ever knowing.
The drugs used to treat epilepsy may also disturb sleep. Achieving healthy sleep on a nightly basis is essential for people with epilepsy because lack of sleep is a trigger for seizures. People with epilepsy also have a high incidence of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).
Epileptic children must handle with a variety of problems as a result of their disorder that goes beyond controlling of seizures. Sleep problems are more critical among the children with epilepsy.
The epileptic children had a considerably higher rate of sleep disturbance and that their disturbed sleep is associated with greater social and concentration problems and a reduced quality of life.
Children with epilepsy also have an elevated rate of attention deficit hyperactivity syndrome and other emotional, learning and behavioral difficulties compared to children without epilepsy.
Epilepsy is a lifelong condition for most people. However, the majority of people with epilepsy are able to prevent seizures with medication and lead normal lives.
In some cases of childhood epilepsy, the need for medication may be decreased or eradicated over time or once a patient enters adulthood. It is very important that people with epilepsy take proper precautions to avoid accidents as a result of their condition.
Types of Seizures:
Ranging from the dramatic "grand mal" seizure to the slight few-seconds loss of consciousness (known as an absence seizure), there are more than 20 different types of epileptic seizures.
A person with epilepsy can have more than one type of seizure. Accurate diagnosis of the specific types of seizures is significant to determining suitable therapy. The type of seizure depends on where in the brain the electrical signaling has gone wrong, and how far that "brainstorm" has spread.
Limb may tremble or jerk uncontrollably, if only the portion of the brain controlling movement of a limb is involved. If the affected brain area spreads, more of the body may begin to move unsteadily.
A person may experience auditory or visual hallucinations, if the brain section governing hearing or vision is involved. Sometimes during a seizure the emotional centers of the brain are the hardest hit and a person starts to cry for no apparent reason, or becomes terrified or angry.
As only one part of the brain is involved, these seizures are termed partially. Many people mistake a person undergoing a partial seizure as drunk or mentally ill.
A complex partial seizure, for instance, may cause the person unresponsive and clumsy, to be confused, and to mumble, pick at clothing, or make chewing movements.
Grand Mal Seizure
In contrast, during a generalized seizure such as a grand mal seizure, the whole brain is suddenly flooded with extra electrical energy so the entire body undergoes convulsions and the person loses consciousness.
Atonic seizure is another type of generalized seizure, which causes abrupt loss of muscle tone, and the person falls to the ground.
Sometimes people, mainly those with complex partial seizures, experience a unique warning sign before a seizure, called an aura. The aura is itself a type of partial seizure, but it is one in which the patient retains awareness.
Even though the average individual seizure doesn't show to have any permanent effects, repeated seizures may be associated with damage such as memory loss. A person may also be injured in a seizure-induced fall.
Rarely, a person who has had a convulsive seizure may need recovery if breathing does not resume automatically. Seizures can be life threatening, even though they rarely cause death, if they occur in harmful situations, such as while driving or swimming.
Most cases of death from epilepsy stem from, a series of seizures in a short period of time, or a seizure that lasts longer than a half hour. Both conditions can deny the brain of oxygen or cause heart or kidney failure. People should receive immediate hospital care if they experience such seizures.