Epilepsy is when there is an electrical storm inside the brain or in other words abnormal brain activity that causes unusual behaviour and feelings. It doesn’t care who you are or where you come from –anyone can get it.
Seizures can look different for everyone. Some people might zone out, while others might flail their arms and legs around. But if you only have one attack, that doesn’t necessarily mean you have epilepsy. You usually need to have at least two seizures that aren’t caused by anything obvious.
Luckily, there are ways to manage epilepsy. Medication or surgery can help control seizures for most people, and some people even stop having seizures altogether. Kids with epilepsy might even grow out of it! So don’t worry- even though epilepsy can be tricky, there are many ways to deal with it.
Exploring the Different Types of Epilepsy and its Symptoms
The symptoms of epilepsy mainly manifest as seizures. The nature and intensity of these seizures vary from person to person, depending on the type of it.
When someone has a focal seizure, something unusual happens in one part of their brain. There are two kinds of focal seizures: with and without loss of consciousness.
- The ones without loss of consciousness won’t make you pass out, but they might make things look, feel, or sound different. They might also make you jerk involuntarily or feel tingling or dizziness.
- The ones with impaired awareness can make you feel like you’re in a dream. You might stare blankly, not responding to things around you, or do the same thing repeatedly.
Sometimes, it can be hard to tell if someone has a focal seizure, migraine, or mental illness. That’s why it’s essential to get a good check-up from a doctor to know what’s happening.
Generalized seizures are a type of seizure that affects the entire brain, and there are six different types.
- Absence seizures cause individuals to briefly stare and make subtle movements. Tonic seizures result in stiffened muscles and can affect consciousness.
- Atonic seizures cause sudden loss of muscle control and often result in falls.
- Clonic seizures cause rhythmic movement in the neck, face, and arms.
- Myoclonic seizures involve sudden, brief jerks or twitches in the upper body and limbs.
- tonic-clonic seizures are the most intense type, causing a loss of consciousness, stiffening of the body, and shaking.
What Are The Causes Of Epilepsy?
Epilepsy is a condition that affects the brain and causes seizures. About half of the people with epilepsy don’t know what causes it. However, for the other half, different factors can lead to epilepsy. Here are some of them:
- Genes: Some types of epilepsy run in families. It means that it’s likely that genes play a role in causing the condition.
- Head trauma: Injuries to the head might happen in a car accident and can lead to epilepsy.
- Brain abnormalities: Things like tumors or malformations in the brain can cause epilepsy.
- Infections: Certain infections, like meningitis or HIV, can lead to epilepsy.
- Prenatal injury: Sometimes, before a baby is born, things can happen that damage the brain and lead to epilepsy.
- Developmental disorders: Certain conditions that affect a person’s development, like autism, can be associated with epilepsy
Factors That Increase The Risk of Epilepsy
Having a seizure can be hazardous for both the individual experiencing it and those around them. It is possible to fall and suffer an injury, drown if the seizure occurs while in water, or get involved in a vehicular accident while driving.
If someone with epilepsy is planning to conceive, it is important to consult with their physician because seizures during pregnancy can pose risks to both the mother and the developing baby. Individuals with epilepsy have a higher likelihood of developing depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts.
Although rare, continuous seizure activity or frequent seizures without regaining consciousness can cause permanent brain damage or even death. People with severe epilepsy are at a slightly elevated risk of sudden unexpected death.
How To Deal When Someone You Know Has A Seizure Having Epilepsy
During a seizure, never hold the person down, put anything in their mouth, offer them food or water until they are fully alert, or give them mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. These actions can potentially harm the person and make the situation worse. Stay calm and speak softly, and help keep those around you calm.
Navigating the Challenges of Epilepsy
Some people experience seizures due to specific triggers, such as lack of sleep, stress, bright lights or patterns, caffeine, alcohol, illegal drugs, and head injury. Identifying these triggers can be challenging because it may be a combination of factors leading to seizures in people with epilepsy.
Keeping a seizure journal can help identify triggers of epilepsy. After each seizure, note the time and activity you were involved in, the environment around you, any unusual sights, smells, or sounds, stressors, food intake, and your level of fatigue and sleep. You can also use the journal to track. Track how you felt before and after the seizure and any side effects of your medication.
By maintaining a seizure journal, you can work with your doctor to determine if your medication is working or if other treatments are necessary. Your doctor can use this information to adjust your medication or suggest alternative therapies to help prevent seizures.
When to Seek Medical Help for Epilepsy
If you or someone you know has epilepsy, it’s important to seek immediate medical help in certain situations. These include:
- Seizures lasting more than five minutes.
- No return of breathing or consciousness after the attack stops.
- A second seizure immediately following the first.
- High fever.
- Pregnancy with diabetes.
- Injury during the seizure.
- Continued seizures despite taking anti-seizure medication.
Additionally, if someone experiences unconsciousness for the first time, it’s important to seek medical advice. However, it’s important to note that most seizures do not require emergency medical attention, and it’s not possible to stop a seizure once it has started.
Epilepsy is a complex neurological disorder that can have significant impacts on an individual’s daily life. While the exact cause of epilepsy is often unknown, medical treatment and lifestyle modifications can help manage symptoms and prevent seizures. Early diagnosis and treatment are crucial to minimizing the impact of epilepsy and improving overall quality of life.
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 “Epilepsy,” Mayo Clinic, 28-Apr-2023. [Online]. Available here: . [Accessed: 04-May-2023].
 “Epilepsy,” Who.int. [Online]. Available here: . [Accessed: 04-May-2023].