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EPILEPSY

Epilepsy is a cluster of related disorders that involve recurrent seizures. Epilepsy mostly begins during childhood but it can start at any age. Epilepsy drugs are prescribed to control seizures and in rare cases, surgery may be used to either remove...Read More

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Epilepsy is a cluster of related disorders that involve recurrent seizures. Epilepsy mostly begins during childhood but it can start at any age. Epilepsy drugs are prescribed to control seizures and in rare cases, surgery may be used to either remove a specific area of the brain that is affected or install an electrical device to assist in controlling seizures.

Causes of Epilepsy:

In many cases, the cause of epilepsy is not known. However, there are some factors that are known to cause epilepsy:

  • Genetics
  • Some people may have genes that make epilepsy more likely to occur.
  • Head trauma - for instance, during a car crash.
  • Brain conditions - including stroke or tumors.
  • Infectious diseases - for instance, AIDS and viral encephalitis.
  • Prenatal injury - brain damage that occurs before birth.
  • Developmental disorders - for instance, autism or neurofibromatosis.

Medication:

The doctor will discuss with the patient or the patient's family what the best treatments are when a diagnosis of seizures or epilepsy is made. If an underlying correctable brain condition is causing the seizures, sometimes surgery can stop them. If epilepsy is diagnosed, the doctor will prescribe seizure-preventing drugs or anti-epileptic drugs. If drugs do not work, the next option could be surgery, a special diet or VNS (vagus nerve stimulation).The doctor's aim is to prevent further seizures from occurring, while at the same time avoiding side effects so that the patient can lead a normal, active, and productive life.

 Symptoms:

The main symptom of epilepsy is repeated seizures. The individual should see a doctor if one or more of the following symptoms are present, especially if they recur: 

  • a convulsion with no temperature (no fever)
  • short spells of a blackout, or confused memory
  • intermittent fainting spells, during which bowel or bladder control is lost, which is frequently followed by extreme tiredness
  • for a short period, the person is unresponsive to instructions or questions
  • the person becomes stiff, suddenly, for no apparent reason
  • the person suddenly falls for no clear reason
  • sudden bouts of blinking without apparent stimuli
  • for a short time, the person seems dazed and unable to communicate
  • repetitive movements that seem inappropriate
  • sudden bouts of chewing, without any apparent reason
  • the person becomes fearful for no apparent reason; they may even panic or become angry
  • peculiar changes in senses, such as smell, touch, and sound
  • the arms, legs, or body jerk, in babies these will appear as a cluster of rapid jerking movements 

The following conditions need to be eliminated as they may present similar symptoms and are sometimes misdiagnosed as epilepsy: 

  • high fever with epilepsy-like symptoms
  • fainting
  • narcolepsy - recurring episodes of sleep during the day
  • cataplexy - periods of extreme weakness
  • sleep disorders
  • nightmares
  • panic attacks
  • fugue states - rare psychiatric disorder
  • psychogenic seizures
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