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What is Epilepsy? Edit

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Epilepsy is a chronic disorder which causes unprovoked seizures. Many people with epilepsy have more than one type of seizure and may have other symptoms of neurological problems as well. Epilepsy in the fourth most common neurological disorder that can affect all ages. (http://www.epilepsy.com/learn/epilepsy-101/what-epilepsy)

"Epilepsy is also a group of related disorders characterized by a tendency for recurrent seizures. There are different types of epilepsy and seizures. Epilepsy drugs are prescribed to control seizures, and rarely surgery is necessary if medications are ineffective". [1]

Epilepsy is the 4th most common neurological disorder that targets all ages. This disorder is when a patient gets unpredictable, reoccurring and unprovoked seizures and has the ability to cause other health issues.

[1]

Epilepsy is the fourth most common neurological disorder and affects people of all ages. Epilepsy means the same thing as “seizure disorders”. Epilepsy is characterized by unpredictable seizures and can cause other health problems. Epilepsy is a spectrum condition with a wide range of seizure types and control varying from person-to-person. The human brain is the source of human epilepsy. Although the symptoms of a seizure may affect any part of the body, the electrical events that produce the symptoms occur in the brain. The location of that event, how it spreads and how much the brain is affected, and how long it lasts all have profound effects. These factors determine the character of a seizure and its impact on the individual. Having seizures and epilepsy can also affect one’s safety, relationships, work, driving and so much more.

How does Epilepsy Affect the Nervous System? Edit

Dazed and confused

·         Can cause you to feel unaware or confused

·         May be fully unresponsive

Lose consciousness:

·         When a person with epilepsy is having a seizure it is possible they will lose consciousness

·         Even if they remain conscious they may forget what happened

Sleepiness

Severe headaches

Labored Breathing

Uncontrollable Movements

Lack of control for bowels and bladder

Aura

Signs in the eyes:

·         Blinking or rapid eye movements

Depression

Abnormal Heartbeat

Loss of muscle tone

Screaming:

·         Sounds like a scream but is actually muscles tightening around the vocal chords

Increased risks during pregnancy 

Epilepsy affects the Nervous System severely. The brain is the central hub for all voluntary and involuntary movements in the body. Electrical activity running through nerve cells help the brain tell the body what to do. When abnormal signals interrupt the brain’s normal functioning, one can experience a seizure. These seizures can cause other health problems. Epilepsy is a disorder of the Nervous System, meaning that effects can be felt throughout the body. Due to unpredictability of seizures, there can also be a great emotional tool on the person experiencing the seizure.

[2]

Signs and Symptoms Edit

Epilepsy is caused by abnormal activity in brain cells, and seizures can affect any process your brain coordinates. The signs and symptoms of seizures may include:

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  • Temporary confusion
  • A staring spell
  • Uncontrollable jerking movements of the arms and legs
  • Loss of consciousness or awareness.
  • Psychic symptoms

Symptoms vary depending on the type of seizure.

Epilepsy is caused by abnormal activity in the brain cells. This means that seizures can affect any process the brain coordinates. Seizure signs and symptoms may include: temporary confusion, long periods of staring, uncontrollable jerking movements of the arms and legs, loss of consciousness or awareness and psychic symptoms. Symptoms vary depending on the types of seizure. In most cases, a person with epilepsy will tend to have the same type of seizure each time, so the symptoms will be similar each time the person experiences a seizure. Doctors generally classify seizures as either focal or generalized, based on how the abnormal brain activity begins. Focal seizures occur when seizures appear to result from abnormal activity in just one area of the brain. These seizures fall into two categories: Focal seizures without loss of consciousness (simple partial seizures) and Focal dyscognitive seizures (complex partial seizures). Focal seizures without loss of consciousness don’t cause a loss of consciousness. They may alter emotions or change the way things look, smell, feel, taste or sound. They may also result in involuntary jerking of a body part, such as an arm or leg. Focal dyscognitive seizures involve a change or loss of consciousness or awareness. During a complex partial seizure, one may stare into space and not respond normally to your environment or perform repetitive movements, such as hand rubbing, chewing, swallowing or walking in circles. Generalized seizures appear to involve all areas of the brain. Six types of generalized seizures exist: Absence seizures, Tonic seizures, Atonic seizures, Clonic seizures, Myoclonic seizures and Tonic-clonic seizures. Absence seizures often occur in children and are characterized by staring into space or subtle body movements such as eye blinking or lip smacking. These seizures may occur in clusters and cause a brief loss of awareness. Tonic seizures cause stiffening of the one’s muscles. These seizures usually affect muscles in one’s back, arms and legs and may cause one to fall to the ground. Atonic seizures cause a loss of muscle control, which may cause one to suddenly collapse or fall down. Clonic seizures are associated with repeated or rhythmic, jerking muscle movements. These seizures usually affect the neck, face and arms. Myoclonic seizures usually appear as sudden brief jerks or twitches of the arms and legs. Tonic-clonic seizures are the most dramatic type of epileptic seizure and can cause an abrupt loss of consciousness, body stiffening and shaking, and sometimes loss of bladder control or biting one’s tongue. 

Diagnosis Edit

Diagnosing someone with epilepsy can be very difficult since so many other disorders can cause changes in behaviour and can be confused with epilepsy. Epilepsy is usually diagnosed after a person has had at least two seizures that were not caused by some known medical condition. [3] To diagnose your condition, your doctor will review over you symptoms and medical history. Your doctor may consider several tests to determine the cause of seizures. Edit

  • Neurological Examination - To test behavior, motor abilities, mental function and other areas to determine the type of epilepsy you may have.
  • Blood Tests - To take a blood sample to check for signs of infection, genetic conditions, or other conditions that may be associated with seizures

Your doctor may also suggest tests to detect brain abnormalities, such as:

  • Electroencephalogram (EEG)
  • Computerized Tomography (CT) scan.
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
  • Functional MRI (fMRI)
  • Positron Emission Tomography (PET)
  • Single-Photon Emission Computerized Tomography (SPECT)
  • Neuropsychological Tests

Epilepsy is very hard to diagnose, because there are so many reasons for having seizures. As well as things that may look like seizures but are really not. Some of the imitators of epilepsy are as follows:

Imitators of Epilepsy:

·         Fainting (syncope)

·         Mini-strokes (transient ischemic attacks or TIAs)

·         Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)

·         Migraine with confusion

·         Sleep disorders, such as narcolepsy and others

·         Movement disorders: tics, tremors, dystonia

·         Fluctuating problems with body metabolism

·         Panic attacks

·         Non-epileptic (psychogenic) seizures

Knowing if a person is having a seizure and diagnosing the type of seizure or epilepsy syndrome can be difficult. There are many other disorders that can cause changes in behaviour and can be confused with epilepsy. To diagnose the condition, the doctor will review the symptoms and medical history of the patient. The doctor may order several tests to diagnose epilepsy and determine the cause of seizures. The doctor may test the patient’s behaviour, motor abilities, mental function and other areas to diagnose the condition and determine the type of epilepsy the patient may have. This is called a Neurological examination. The doctor may take a blood sample to check for signs of infections, genetic conditions or other conditions that may be associated with seizures. This is called a blood test. The doctor may also suggest tests to detect brain abnormalities, such as Electroencephalogram (EEG), Computerized tomography (CT) scan and Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Electroencephalogram is the most common test used to diagnose epilepsy. In this test, doctors attach electrodes to the patient’s scalp with a paste-like substance. The elctrodes record the electrical activity of the patient’s brain. A Computerized tomography (CT) scan uses X-rays to obtain cross-sectional images of the brain. CT scans can reveal abnormalities in the patient’s brain that might be causing the patient seizures, such as tumors, bleeding and cysts. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) uses powerful magnets and radio waves to create a detailed view of the patient’s brain. The doctor may be able to detect lesions or abnormalities in the patient’s brain that could be causing them seizures.

Treatment Edit

Most people with Epilepsy can become seizure-free by taking one anti-seizure medication. Other's may be able to decrease the frequency and intensity of their seizures by taking a combination of medication. In most cases, the treatment prescribed for Epilepsy varies as it depends on many factors such as the frequency and severity of the seizes along with the individual's age, medical history, and overall health.

Drugs are not a cure and can have numerous, sometimes severe, side effects. Brain surgery is recommended only when medication fails and when the seizures are confined to one area of the brain where brain tissue can be safely removed without damaging personality or function.

The majority of epileptic seizures are controlled by medication, particularly anticonvulsant drugs. The type of treatment prescribed will depend on several factors, including the frequency and severity of the seizures and the person’s age, overall health and medical history. An accurate diagnosis of the type of epilepsy is also critical to choosing the best treatment. Many medications are available to treat epilepsy. Although generic drugs are safely used for most medication, anticonvulsants are one category where doctors proceed with caution. Most doctors prefer to use brand-name anticonvulsants. As a result, it is acceptable to start taking a generic anticonvulsant medication, but the desired control is not achieved, the patient should be switched to the brand-name drug. Medications used to treat epilepsy include: Carbamazepine, Diazepam, Eslicarbazepine, Ethosuximide, Felbamate, Gabapentin, Lacosamide, Lamotrigine, Levetiracetam, Oxcarbazepine, Perampanel, Phenobarbital, Phenyton, Pregabalin, Primidone, Tiagabine hydrochloride, Topiramate, Valproate and Zonisamide. The choice of medication is most often based on factors like the patient’s tolerance of side effects, or other illnesses he or she might have. Although the different types of epilepsy vary greatly, in general, medications can control seizures in about 70 percent of patients. 


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