Epilepsy is a condition characterized by frequent seizures. Seizures are a result of unchecked electrical activity between neurons (the brain cells). Epilepsy is more common in children or people over 60 years of age. However, the condition is not restricted to these two age groups particularly.
If you ever experience anything where your brain goes blank and your muscles twitch, see a Neurologist immediately. Not always, but these are the most prominent signs of epilepsy. Once a person gets epilepsy, it stays with them forever. However, the intensity of the disease can be managed with medical intervention.
What are the causes of epilepsy?
Half of the people suffering from epilepsy don’t have any evident causes. The other half has various causes like:
The type of epilepsy that can be traced back to genetic makeover, usually has a specific seizure type and affects a specific part of the brain. Neurologists can establish the cause by asking about the family history of epilepsy of the patients. Gene pool of an epilepsy patient may have sensitive genes that get triggered with environmental causes of seizures.
2. A head injury:
Other than genetics, epilepsy can be caused by brain damage incurred due to a head injury.
Moreover, the disease may have roots in conditions such as HIV, meningitis and certain brain tumors.
4. Developmental disorders:
Apart from these causes, some developmental disorders like autism can be a reason for epilepsy too.
What are the symptoms of epilepsy?
The most prominent symptom of epilepsy is a seizure. However, the intensity and signs of a seizure can vary from person to person. Here’s how seizures are classified:
1. Focal (Partial) Seizures
When someone experiences a partial seizure, they do not lose consciousness. Instead they show these signs:
- disturbed taste, smell, hearing and touch.
- feeling dizzy
- muscle spasms and twitching
On the other hand, Complex partial seizures can lead to unconsciousness. These seizures can also trigger responses such as:
- not being responsive to stimuli
- undefined staring
- sudden and repetitive movement of limbs
2. Generalized Seizures
There are six types of generalized seizures:
- Absence seizures are characterized by a blank stare or smacking of lips or twitching of muscles.
- Tonic seizures cause muscle spasms.
- Atonic seizures are characterised by loss of muscle control that may cause a fall.
- Clonic seizures cause jerking of neck and arm muscles.
- Myoclonic seizures occur when arms and leg muscles start twitching.
- Tonic-clonic seizures cause body stiffness, uncontrolled shaking, no control over bladder and bowel movement, biting of the tongue and complete loss of consciousness.
How can epilepsy be diagnosed?
The diagnosis of epilepsy can take many visits to the Best Neurologist in Lahore. For the diagnosis of epilepsy, your physician may recommend following diagnostic procedures:
- Blood Tests
Blood tests will clarify if you have an infection that can cause brain damage or not.
It is the most common diagnostic technique used for epilepsy. To perform an EEG doctors place sensors on the patient’s scalp and monitor the electrical activity of the brain. An abnormal brain wave pattern on the result of EEG states that the patient has epilepsy.
- CT Scan
CT scan uses X-ray to take brain pictures that may show if there is any abnormality in the brain structure. Go to w-radiology.com for more information.
Through MRI, the doctor sees damaged brain cells that can cause epilepsy.
Some other techniques useful in the diagnosis of epilepsy are PET scan, fMRI and MRS.
How can epilepsy be treated?
The treatment options for epilepsy include:
- Antiepileptic drugs (AEDs)
- Surgical procedures to remove abnormal brain cells
- Insertion of a small electrical device to control seizures
- Ketogenic diet