Epilepsy – symptoms, causes and treatment methods
Epilepsy is a neurological condition that triggers unpredictable and recurrent seizures. It can also lead to abnormal behaviour, sensations, and loss of awareness. People of different ages are afflicted with the condition. It occurs due to a sudden surge of electrical activity in the brain. This causes the neurons that pass messages to and from the brain to malfunction temporarily. It is one of the most common neurological diseases. According to statistics, approximately 50 million people in the world have epilepsy.
Traumatic brain injuries or brain diseases like stroke, viral encephalitis, meningitis or brain tumours are the causative factors for epilepsy. Many epilepsy types are also due to genetic influence where you see many members of a family having the same condition. Epilepsy could also be caused due to pre-natal brain damage caused due to oxygen deficiency, poor nutrition or infection in mother. Epilepsy can sometimes be associated with developmental disorders, such as autism and neurofibromatosis. High-grade fever, extremely low blood pressure, alcohol withdrawal or drug abuse can also result in seizures.
What are the symptoms you should look for?
It is important to understand that the grade of the seizures varies from minor seizures to uncontrolled grave seizures. It is commonly observed in young children and older adults.
Common symptoms observed are :
- Falling to the ground for no apparent reason
- Periodic chewing movement for no reason
- Unresponsiveness for a short period of time
- Sudden jerking movements of hands or legs
The generalized form of seizures occurs due to the involvement of a larger part of the brain by the disease leading to uncontrolled muscle spasms, stiffening of the body, tongue bite, loss of consciousness etc. With the experience of the first symptoms, you need to immediately visit a neurologist and get yourself tested for epilepsy. Doctors will advise certain diagnostic tests after physical examination such as EEG, MRI Brain Scan, CT scan or PET scan.
What is the treatment for Epilepsy?
Epilepsy is a chronic disease and its treatment varies with the severity of the symptoms. With advancing research in neurology, doctors are trying to find better options for curing epilepsy.
Primary treatment consists of anti-epileptic medications. The dosage & frequency of the intake of these drugs is as per the prescribed amount by your neurologist. If the severity of seizures is high, surgery is the next best option where the part of the brain with the seizure activity is resected. Managing the anti-epileptic drugs post surgery is critical and they need to be weaned instead of sudden withdrawal. This is a continuous area of research in medical science and is still evolving. Additionally, a diet which is low in fat and high in carbohydrates is generally recommended for the patients with epilepsy.
Psychological counselling is a great help to motivate epileptic patients to fight the social stigma associated with the occurrence of uncontrollable seizures. If diagnosed with epilepsy, being treated by the best neuro specialists can bring about results that help patients live an almost normal life.