Epilepsy is a neurological disorder that causes seizures. These seizures can be very different from one another, with some only lasting a few seconds while others last minutes or hours. Epilepsy can be caused by injury to the brain, stroke, brain tumor, genetic mutation, or other factors. In some cases, there is no known cause of epilepsy.
Epilepsy is characterized by recurrent seizures that are unprovoked by an obvious external stimulus and result in abnormal electrical activity in the brain. The severity of these seizures varies widely among patients: some experience minor twitching or loss of awareness for just a few seconds, while others may experience more severe effects such as loss of consciousness and convulsions (shaking).
What are Seizures?
Seizures occur when there is an abnormal electrical discharge in the brain. This causes changes in how the brain functions, leading to a temporary loss of consciousness or control over body movements.
What are the Types of Seizures?
There are many different types of seizures. There are also many different ways to classify them.
There are two broad categories: generalized and partial.
Generalized seizures involve the entire brain, while partial seizures affect just one brain area.
These partial seizures can be further classified into simple and complex. Simple partial seizures occur in only one part of the brain, while complex partial seizures involve more than one part of the brain.
Simple partial seizures can be further divided into other groups, such as sensory, motor, autonomic and psychic. When someone has a seizure, there are two types: epileptic and non-epileptic.
An abnormal electrical discharge causes epileptic seizures in the brain caused by a genetic defect or other factors. In contrast, non-epileptic seizures are caused by another condition that mimics epilepsy but is unrelated to it (such as heart problems). To help determine what kind of seizure you may be experiencing, you should note how long it lasts, what part of your body it affects, and whether or not any other symptoms like headache or nausea/vomiting accompany it.
What are the Symptoms of Epilepsy?
Symptoms of epilepsy vary based on age and the brain area affected. They can include:
- facial twitches or tics
- loss of consciousness
- temporary loss of movement on one side of the body
- temporary inability to understand what’s being said or written
- loss of bladder control
How is Epilepsy Diagnosed?
The conditions required specialists to help make a diagnosis, including:
Neurologist – An expert in disorders affecting the nervous system, including the brain and spinal cord
Neurosurgeon – A doctor who specializes in surgery on the brain, spinal cord, and nerves
Psychiatrist – A doctor who treats mental health conditions
The diagnosis of epilepsy is made in two steps:
first, a doctor must rule out other possible causes of the seizures, such as a stroke or tumor; then, they will consider what kind of seizures you have and their frequency to determine whether or not you have epilepsy. The doctor will ask you about your symptoms, including how often the seizures occur and what happens before, during, and after them. They may also want to know about any family history of epilepsy or other significant medical conditions. The doctor may also conduct tests to rule out other causes of your symptoms.
These tests can include an electroencephalogram (EEG), which measures electrical activity in the brain with electrodes attached to your scalp; magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), which uses radio waves and magnetic fields to generate detailed images of internal organs; and computed tomography scan (CT scan), which uses X-rays to create images of structures inside the body.
How is Epilepsy Treated?
There are many different ways to treat epilepsy, and a doctor will work with you to determine the best treatment for your specific condition. Here are some of the most common methods:
Medications – A doctor will prescribe medications to help control seizures. The medication prescribed depends on what type of seizure you have, as well as other factors such as age, medical history, and lifestyle. Some medications have side effects, so discuss these with your doctor before starting any new medication regimen.
Surgery – Sometimes, surgery is necessary to correct issues that cause seizures or worsen them (such as scar tissue on the brain). Surgery may also be used if there is no other way to control your seizures besides medication. The most common types of surgery include:
Removal of a portion of the brain causing seizures (called lobectomy). This surgery usually requires removing part or all of one hemisphere, depending on where the problem area is located within that hemisphere’s structure.
Removal or destruction (ablation) of a small area within area known as Broca’s area causes seizures in certain patients; this is done using stereotactic.