Epilepsy is a chronic disorder, the hallmark of which is recurrent, unprovoked seizures. The difference between epilepsy and seizure is, a seizure is a single occurrence, whereas epilepsy is a neurological condition characterized by two or more unprovoked seizures.
What are the risk factors?(4)
Seizure signs and symptoms may include:
A staring spell
Uncontrollable jerking movements of the arms and legs
Loss of consciousness or awareness
Psychic symptoms such as fear,anxiety or deja vu
Abnormal blood vessels in the brain
Serious brain injury or lack of oxygen to the brain
People who have brain tumors or brain infections
Patients suffering with Stroke or Cerebral palsy
Family history of epilepsy or fever-related seizures
Alzheimer's disease (late in the illness)
Fever-related (febrile) seizures that are unusually long
Know the Seizure types(5)
Seizure can be of two types -
Focal seizures: These start in a particular part of the brain, and their names are based on the part where they happen. About 60% of people with epilepsy have this type of seizure.
Generalized Seizures: There are six types generalized seizures:
Tonic-clonic (or grand mal) seizures: These are the most noticeable seizure. In this seizure: body stiffens, jerks, and shakes, and patients lose consciousness. They usually last 1 to 3 minutes.
Clonic seizures: In this seizure, muscles have spasms, which often makes the face, neck, and arm muscles jerk rhythmically. They may last several minutes.
Tonic seizures: In this seizure, the muscles in the arms, legs, or trunk tense up. These usually last less than 20 seconds and often happen when someone is asleep.
Atonic seizures: In this seizure, muscles suddenly go limp, and head may lean forward. These usually last less than 15 seconds, but some people have several in a row.
Myoclonic seizures: In this seizure, muscles suddenly jerk as if someone has been shocked. They may start in the same part of the brain as an atonic seizure, and some people have both myoclonic and atonic seizures.
Absence (or petit mal) seizures: Patients with absence seizure disconnected from others and do not respond to them. They usually last only a few seconds, and one may not remember having one. They are most common in children under 14.
To diagnose the condition, doctors will review the symptoms and medical history. They may suggest tests to detect brain abnormalities, such as:
Electroencephalogram (EEG): This is a common test to ensure abnormalities in brain waves.
Computerized tomography (CT) Scan: A CT scan uses X-rays to obtain cross-sectional images of the brain.
Apart from these tests, there are also tests like MRI, fMRI, PET etc. to diagnose epilepsy.
Fig: Electroencephalogram (EEG)
Doctors generally begin by treating epilepsy with medication. If medications don't treat the condition, doctors may propose surgery or another type of treatment. Most people with epilepsy can become seizure-free by taking one anti-seizure medication, which is also called anti-epileptic medication. Others may be able to decrease the frequency and intensity of their seizures by taking a combination of medications.