Epilepsy is a seizure disorder that affects the neurological system. Epilepsy is usually diagnosed after one or two seizures. Epilepsy is an umbrella term for having a neurological disorder that involves seizures, however it does not detail what type it is or what causes it.
A seizure occurs when there is a sudden surge of activity in the brain, and is never a disease itself, but rather the result or a symptom of a variety of disorders a person may have that affects the brain. There are two main causes for epilepsy: an injury to the brain or a chemical imbalance.
Seizures have three phases, described by epilepsy.com as a beginning (also called auras), a middle and an end. There are seizure symptoms that are warning signs that a seizure could be about to happen. Some of these include:
- Déjà vu
- Visual loss or blurring
- Tingling feeling
- A feeling of fear or panic
During the seizure the body also has symptoms, which may include:
- Loss of consciousness
- Chewing movements
- Biting the tongue
Symptoms that occur after a seizure may include:
- Memory loss
- Difficulty talking
- Bruises or injuries from strong convulsions, shaking during seizure
Epilepsy is usually diagnosed most commonly during the first year of a child’s life. The rate declines until the age of approximately 60, which is when people are most susceptible to having brain tumors, Alzheimer’s disease and strokes, all of which can cause epilepsy.
The risk factors involved with epilepsy are very extensive. Some include:
- Brain tumors
- Incorrectly developed brain in infants
- Injuries where there was a lack of oxygen to the brain
- Heavy drinking
- Use of recreational drugs
- Cerebral palsy
Only a maximum of two percent of the global population will be diagnosed with epilepsy, which makes that about 50 to 60 million people worldwide suffering from it. Famous people throughout history have suffered from epilepsy. One of the most famous is perhaps Julius Caesar.
While there is no exact cure for epilepsy, it may be controlled through medication. The type of medication that is taken is called an “anticonvulsant”, which prevents epileptic patients from suffering seizures.
Patients who do not respond to medication may undergo surgery. Surgery, however, is only possible when the precise location of the abnormality that triggers epilepsy can be located.
In addition to these forms of treatment, a patient may also consider taking on a ketogenic diet, which has been found to be helpful in patients suffering from epilepsy. A patient may also considering undergoing electrical therapy, deep brain stimulation, or alternative medicine, including acupuncture. For patients with severe seizures, a warning system may be helpful. Specially trained dogs will get help when their owners are suffering seizures.
Find out more about epilepsy.