Epilepsy occurs when permanent changes in the brain cause brain signals to become excessive and/or abnormal. In some cases, epilepsy is idiopathic, that is, of uusually due to genetic tendency. However, there are known causes of epilepsy, including:
- Stroke or transient ischaemic attack (TIA or “mini-stroke”)
- Dementia, such as Alzheimer’s disease
- Brain injury or accident
- Infections, including meningitis, encephalitis, AIDS
- Congenital brain disorders
- Brain tumours
- Abnormal blood vessels in the brain
- Metabolic problems
The term epilepsy actually covers over 40 different disorders, all involving episodes of abnormal electrical activity in the brain. These are often described in terms of the types of seizures that occur. Partial or focal onset seizures are seizures that start from a localized source, that is, from a small area of the brain. Generalised seizures start from a more widely distributed area in the brain. A partial seizure that does not interrupt consciousness is called a simple partial seizure. Partial seizures that affect consciousness are complex partial seizures, Generalised seizures always result in loss of consciousness and may be described as absence (petit mal), myocolonic, clonic, tonic, tonic-clonic (or grand mal), and atonic. Some epileptics experience an aura prior to a seizure, in which they experience unusual sensations or emotions. Most forms of epilepsy involve spontaneous seizures, but in reflex epilepsy, a specific trigger initiates the seizure (such as reading, flashing lights, and so on).
Epilepsy is characterized by seizures (although having one seizure does not mean a person has epilepsy). These seizures range from mild episodes (in which the person may stare, be somewhat confused, or experience unusual sensations) to extreme (in which the person shakes violently and loses consciousness). The type of seizure an individual has usually is consistent, that is, seizures in one patient are usually like previous seizures.
Epileptics who experience more violent seizures are at risk of sustaining an injury during an episode, including falling, biting themselves, inhaling saliva into their lungs (aspiration pneumonia), or risks when seizures occur while they are operating machinery or driving.
Some forms of epilepsy occur in childhood but resolve with age. However, for many individuals, epilepsy lasts a lifetime.
Epilepsy cannot be cured, but may be managed. For many patients, drug therapy with anticonvulsant drugs can help reduce seizures. It is not always possible for any drug to eliminate all seizures. There are many anticonvulsants available, and patients may be asked to try more than one to find the best agent for managing their condition. In some cases, drug therapy cannot control epilepsy. Surgery may be recommended to remove abnormal brain cells causing seizures. More recent innovations involve implantable stimulators. Epileptic patients interested in the newest treatment options should consult with experts at the Neuro Spinal Hospital, because they are at the forefront of medical therapy in epilepsy.
Lifestyle modifications have been reported to help some patients, including dietary changes, taking vitamins, and getting sufficient sleep.
The specialists at Neuro Spinal Hospital can work with epileptic patients and their families to provide an individualised prognosis. Some paediaetric patients will outgrow their epilepsy, often in their early 20s. Patients with epilepsy that can be well controlled on medications may be able to reduce or even stop taking anticonvulsant medications at some point in the future. However, for many people, epilepsy is a lifelong condition that requires constant and expert medical management.
Living with Epilepsy
Epileptic patients and their families need expert medical advice, since every patient is unique and epilepsy covers a wide range of disorders. The Neuro Spinal Hospital can help epileptics to:
- Understand their specific disorder
- Learn about the latest drug therapies
- Determine if surgery is an appropriate option
- Define the patient’s individual prognosis
- Help the patient determine if lifestyle modifications might help
There are no known ways to prevent epilepsy. Genetic factors may play a role in the development of epilepsy, which can also develop as the result of brain injury or brain disease. People with epilepsy may increase their risk of seizure if they take illicit drugs, consume alcohol, or do not get enough sleep.
The Neuro Spinal Hospital offers MRI & C.T. study of the brain, MRI spectroscopy to detect epileptic foci, EEG of the brain wakefull & sleep record, sleep deprived record & 24hrs EEG video monitoring in addition to various blood tests.
Epilepsy is the name for a syndrome encompassing over 40 different seizure disorders. Epilepsy can occur at any age, although it is most commonly diagnosed in children and seniors. For many patients, epilepsy will be a lifelong condition that can be managed by drugs, lifestyle changes, and sometimes surgery. The seizures characteristic of epilepsy may be mild to severe and are often controllable by drug therapy. New treatment innovations in epilepsy may help reduce or even eliminate seizures in some patients. Patients with epilepsy should seek out care from specialists in epilepsy, such as the team at the Neuro Spinal Hospital.