What is epilepsy?
Epilepsy is a brain disorder. People who have epilepsy have unnormal electrical activity in the brain which causes seizures. Seizures are of many forms. A seizure can in some case jerking, uncontrolled movements, and consciousness loss. In other cases, seizures cause only a period of confusion, a staring spell, or muscle spasms. Epilepsy is also known as “seizure disorder.”
Epilepsy is neither a mental illness nor a symptom of poor intelligence. It is not infectious, either. Seizures usually do not cause brain damage. A person with epilepsy is no different from anyone else in between seizures.
Recurrent seizures are the main symptom of epilepsy. However, if a person has one or more of the following symptoms, they should seek medical attention, as epilepsy may indicate:
- A convulsion without fever
- Brief blackouts or impaired memory
- Occasional fainting spells, during which they lose bowel or bladder control, often followed by extreme exhaustion
- Temporary unresponsiveness to orders or questions
- Sudden stiffness for no apparent purpose
- Sudden dropping for no apparent purpose
- Sudden bouts of blinking without apparent stimuli
- Sudden bouts of chewing without any specific cause
- Temporarily seeming dazed and unable to communicate
- Repeated motions that appear involuntary
- Fearfulness for no apparent purpose
- Panic or anger
- Strange changes in senses, like smell, touch, and sound
- Jerking arms, legs, or body, that appear as a cluster of rapid jerking movements in kids
When any of these signs arise regularly, it is important to seek treatment with a doctor.
The following conditions can cause similar symptoms to those above, and some people might confuse them for those of epilepsy:
- High fever with epilepsy-like symptoms
- Narcolepsy, or recurrent daytime sleep disturbances
- Cataplexy, or periods of severe muscle weakness
- Sleep discomfort
- Panic attacks
- Fugue state, a rare psychiatric condition in which a person forgets their identity information
- Psychogenic seizures, or seizures with a psychological or psychiatric cause
When to see a doctor
If any of the following happens seek urgent medical help urs:
- The seizure lasts longer than five minutes.
- After the seizure stops breathing or consciousness doesn’t return.
- A second seizure soon follows.
- Have a high fever.
- Suffers exhaustion.
- You are pregnant.
- Got diabetes.
- Have been injured yourself during the seizure.
If you experience a seizure for the first time, seek medical advice.
Doctors don’t always know what causes epilepsy. Some factors that can raise the risk of epilepsy include the following:
- Genetics: People that have an epileptic parent are at elevated risk of developing epilepsy.
- Head trauma: severe head injuries, often years after the injury, can cause epilepsy.
- Infection: Infections such as meningitis, encephalitis, and AIDS may increase epileptic risk.
- Medical conditions: Some medical conditions may increase epileptic risk. Can include Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, brain tumours, and problems with blood vessels in the brain.
- Problems during pregnancy, birth, or early development: In certain cases, infections during pregnancy, problems during birth, problems with the brain that are present at birth, or injury to an infant’s brain can cause epilepsy.
Some factors can increase your epileptic risk:
- Age: Epilepsy development is most common in children and older adults, but it may occur at any age.
- Family history: If you have epilepsy family history, you may be at elevated risk of developing a seizure disorder.
- Head injuries: Some forms of epilepsy include head trauma. By wearing a seat belt while riding in a car and by wearing a helmet while bicycling, skiing, riding a motorcycle or engaging in other activities with a high risk of head injury you may reduce risk.
- Stroke and other vascular diseases: Stroke and other blood vessel diseases can cause brain damage which can trigger epilepsy. You may take a number of steps to reduce your risk of these diseases, including reducing the alcohol consumption and avoiding cigarettes, maintaining a balanced diet, and daily workout.
- Dementia: Dementia may increase the risk of developing epilepsy in older.
- Brain infections: Infections such as meningitis, which causes inflammation in your brain or spinal cord, may increase the risk.
- Seizures in childhood: High fevers in babies may often be related to seizures. Kids who have seizures because of high fevers generally won’t develop epilepsy. The risk of epilepsy rises when a child has a long seizure, another nervous system condition or epilepsy family history.
Complications may include:
- Difficulty learning
- Breathing in food or saliva into the lungs during a seizure, which can cause aspiration pneumonia
- Injury from falls, bumps, self-inflicted bites, driving or operating machinery during a seizure
- Permanent brain damage
- Side effects of medicines
When to Contact a Medical Professional
Call your local emergency number if:
- This is the first time a person has a seizure
- A seizure occurs in someone who is not wearing a medical ID bracelet
- In the case of someone who has had seizures before, call 911 for any of these emergency situations:
- This is a longer seizure than the person usually has or an unusual number of seizures for the person
- Multiple repeated seizures over a few minutes
- Repeated seizures in which consciousness or normal behaviour is not regained between them
If any new symptoms occur call your doctor:
- Hair loss
- Nausea or vomiting
- Medicines side effects, such as drowsiness, restlessness, confusion, sedation
- Tremors or irregular movements, or issue with coordination
There is no known approach to preventing epilepsy. Good diet and sleep, and staying away from alcohol and illegal drugs can reduce the likelihood of triggering seizures in people with epilepsy.
Reduce the threat of head injury through wearing a helmet during risky activities. This can lessen the likelihood of a brain injury that leads to seizures and epilepsy.