What is Epilepsy?
Epilepsy is a type of disorder in the brain that are characterized by a tendency to cause recurrent seizures. Seizures cause changes in movement, behavior, sensation, or awareness, including loss of consciousness or convulsions, which last from a few seconds to a few minutes in most individuals. Seizures may occur in children and adults.
Epilepsy is not a form of mental illness or intellectual dysfunction.
The main symptom of epilepsy is recurrent seizures. If a person experiences one or more of the following symptoms, they should seek medical attention, as it may indicate epilepsy:
- Short blackouts or confused memory
- Intermittent fainting, during which they lose bowel or bladder control, frequently followed by extreme tiredness
- Temporary unresponsiveness to instructions or questions
- Sudden stiffness for no apparent reason
- Sudden falling for no apparent reason
- Temporarily seeming dazed and unable to communicate
- Repetitive movements that seem involuntary
- Fearfulness for no apparent reason
- Panic or anger
- Peculiar changes in senses, such as smell, touch, and sound
- Jerking arms, legs, or body, which will appear as a cluster of rapid jerking movements in babies
- Sleep deprivation – overtired, not sleeping well, not getting enough sleep
- At times of fevers or other illnesses
- Flashing bright lights or patterns
- Alcohol or drug abuse
- Associated with menstrual cycle (women) or other hormonal changes
- Not eating well, low blood sugar
- Specific foods, excess caffeine or other products that may aggravate seizures
- Use of certain medications
The doctor may prescribe antiepileptic drugs to help prevent seizures. If these drugs do not work, doctors can suggest surgery to prevent seizure from happening.
Some of the surgical options include:
- Lobectomy: During this procedure, a surgeon will remove the section of the brain in which seizures start. This is the oldest type of epilepsy surgery.
- Multiple subpial transection: During this procedure, a surgeon will make several cuts to limit seizures to one part of the brain.
- Corpus callosotomy: A surgeon will cut the neural connections between the two halves of the brain. This prevents seizures from spreading from one side of the brain to the other.
- Hemispherectomy: In extreme cases, a surgeon may need to cut out a hemisphere, which is one half of the cerebral cortex of the brain.
For some people, undergoing surgery may reduce the frequency and severity of their seizures. However, it is often important to continue taking antiseizure medication for several years following the procedure.
How to deal with a person having Epilepsy ?
If someone you know has a seizure episode, use the following general guidelines:
- Stay calm.
- Don’t move the person to another place.
- Don’t try to keep the person from moving or shaking.
- Don’t try to wake the person by shouting at or shaking them.
- Remove items that could cause injury if the person falls or bumps into them.
- Gently turn the person on his or her side so any fluid in the mouth can safely come out.
- Never try to force the person’s mouth open or put anything in it.
- Place something soft (such as a pillow) under his or her head.
- Most seizures aren’t life-threatening. You don’t need to call a doctor or an ambulance unless the person isn’t known to have epilepsy or unless the seizure lasts longer than 5 minutes.
- When the seizure is over, watch the person for signs of confusion.
- Allow the person to rest or sleep if he or she wishes.