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What You Need To Know About Epilepsy?

Epilepsy comes along with many different auras, side effects and seizures. There are multiple kinds of seizures, and each one of them can look different. To be able to identify which seizure someone is having is important to know which steps to take when you need to help them. 

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What is Epilepsy?

Epilepsy is a neurological condition when a person has two or more reoccurring unprovoked seizures. In patients with seizures, the normal electrical pattern is disrupted by sudden and synchronized bursts of electrical energy that may briefly affect their consciousness, movements or sensations.

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What is a Seizure?

A seizure is when you have abnormal electrical activity in the brain and temporarily interrupts normal brain function that effects how a person feels, acts, behaves.

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What Causes Epilepsy to Develop?

  • Brain damage or trauma during birth

  • Tumor/ Infection in the brain

  • Stroke

  • Severe head injury

  • Genetic condition

  • Some cases, reasons unknown

Who Can Develop Epilepsy?

Epilepsy and seizures can develop in any person at any age. Seizures are more common in young children and older adults. It is one of the most common disorders of the nervous system and affects people of all ages, races and ethnic background.

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What is an Aura?

An aura  is similar to a warning sign, it  is a sensation which some people get just before they have a seizure. Symptoms include  feeling of deja vu, panic,  unusual sense of smell, or taste,  hearing voices or buzzing, ringing, and change in vision. 

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Types of Seizures

Seizures are categorized into two types, either focal or generalized, based on how and where the brain activity causing the seizure begins. Seizure symptoms can vary depending on how much of the seizure is effecting the brain. Some people may lose awareness during a seizure but others don't. Some people stare blankly for a few seconds during a seizure and others may repeatedly twitch their arms or legs, known as convulsions.

  • Focal(Partial) seizures: Focal seizures take place when abnormal electrical brain function occurs on one side of the brain and can later spread into other parts of the brain.

  • Simple focal seizures: A person can be present but the seizure does not affect their awareness. Symptoms could include muscle tightening, unusual head movements, blank stares, eyes moving from side to side, tingling, nausea, unable to speak for a short while, changes in mood or emotion.

 

  • Complex focal seizures: This type of seizure is the most common type in adults where it stems from the temporal lobe of the brain which controls your emotions and memory function. The person may be unaware of their surrounding or seem to be day dreaming. They may also make some movements, such as blinking, chewing or lip smacking.

 

 

  • Generalized tonic clonic seizures (Grand Mal): This type of seizure is the most common seizure type that effects both sides of the brain. A Grand Mal seizure causes a loss of consciousness and violent muscle contractions. Symptoms can include, stiffening, rapid, rhythmic jerking and convulsing, bluish face from lack of oxygen, loss of bladder control. They can last 30 seconds to about 5 minutes, and after they go into postictal period, where they become sleepy when the seizure has ended. After a Grand Mal seizure they may have problems with vision or speech, and may have a bad headache, fatigue, or body aches.

  • Absence seizures (Petit Mal seizures): These type of seizures almost always start between ages 4 to 12 years. These seizures cause an altered state of consciousness and staring episodes.  Someone having an absence seizure may appear to stare into space for a few seconds, mouth or face may move or the eyes may blink. The seizure usually lasts no longer than 30 seconds and when the seizure is over, the child may not recall what just occurred and may go on with his/her activities, acting as though nothing happened.  This type of seizure is sometimes mistaken for a learning problem or behavioral problem.

 

  • Myoclonic seizures: These seizures are brief, lasting a few seconds or less, and these type of seizures do not cause any loss of awareness, the person is awake and conscious during the seizure. Some symptoms include quick movements or sudden jerking/spasm of a group of muscles. 

 

There are a few different ways to treat epilepsy, and reduce the amount of seizures. A few ways are:

  • Medication: If someone is diagnosed with epilepsy, your doctor will prescribe an anti-seizure medication to help control the seizures. Some people may need a combination of medicine to help control their seizures.

  • EEG: Electroencephalogram measures your brain’s electrical activity and it can help identify where the seizure is starting, and whether it is focal onset or generalized onset.

  • Dietary Treatment: Some diets may help control seizures frequency, recommended diets include the modified Atkins diet, ketogenic diet, and low glycemic diet. Check with your doctor before beginning any of these adjustments.

  • Surgery: Surgery for epilepsy involves cutting or removing part of the brain where seizures are happening and help control or reduce the amount of seizures one is having. 

  • VNS: Vagus nerve stimulation is a small electrical device that is implanted under the skin to stimulate the vagus nerve, which controls some of your brain activity. The device helps control certain seizures by stimulating the nerve and try to prevent them before starting.

Focal Seizures

Generalized Seizures

Treatment for Seizures

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