Epilepsy is a complex disease that does not affect only one person or only one age. Over 50 million men, women, and children face this disease daily. Epilepsy is a mysterious disease; for those who do not know about it, this write-up will help you understand it.
Epilepsy causes unprovoked recurrent seizures and sudden and abnormal electrical activity in the brain. Seizures can affect different brain parts, resulting in many symptoms, including loss of consciousness, convulsions, muscle spasms, and altered sensations or emotions. However, understanding a problem correctly can help find a cure. This write-up will address all your questions about symptoms, risk factors, treatments, rehabilitation facilities, therapies, etc.
Why is it Necessary to Understand the Risk Factors
Understanding the risk factors associated with epilepsy is important for several reasons:
- Diagnosis and Treatment: Knowing the risk factors can help doctors make an accurate diagnosis and determine the most effective treatment plan for the patient.
- Preventative Measures: Some risk factors for epilepsy can be avoided or minimised with preventive measures. For example, avoiding head injuries and managing underlying medical conditions.
- Safety Precautions: People with epilepsy are at a higher risk of accidents and injuries, particularly during seizures.
- Improved Quality of Life: Identifying and managing risk factors associated with epilepsy can help improve the quality of life for individuals with the condition.
Epilepsy Treatment – Decoding Abnormal Activity
The problem of epilepsy involves various structures and functions within the brain. Here are some of the critical anatomical features of epilepsy:
- Cerebral Cortex
- Basal Ganglia
- Limbic System
In summary, epilepsy involves abnormal activity in various structures and functions within the brain, including neurons, the hippocampus, the thalamus, the cerebral cortex, the basal ganglia, and the limbic system.
What are the different types of epilepsy?
Three types of epilepsy are defined based on the types of seizures a person experiences. They are
- Focal epilepsy
- Generalised epilepsy
- Unknown epilepsy
Focal (partial) seizures
These seizures occur in one area of the brain and can cause various symptoms, depending on the location of the affected area. Focal seizures are of two types:
- Simple partial seizures: These seizures do not cause a loss of consciousness.
- Complex partial seizures can cause a loss of consciousness or awareness.
Cause: structural brain abnormalities such as
- head injuries.
it can happen in the entire region of the brain and can cause a loss of consciousness. There are several types of generalised seizures:
- Absence seizures usually occur in children and can result in a brief loss of awareness, where the child may appear to be daydreaming.
- Tonic seizures: These seizures can cause muscle stiffness and can occur during sleep.
- Atonic seizures can cause sudden muscle tone loss, resulting in falls.
- Clonic seizures: These seizures can cause rhythmic muscle jerking.
- Myoclonic seizures can cause sudden muscle jerking, which can be mistaken for a sudden jolt.
- Tonic-clonic seizures: These seizures are also known as grand mal seizures and can
Cause: the cause is often genetic.
If epilepsy is of unknown origin, then they fall into this category:
- Stiffness and unconsciousness
- Rapid, rhythmic shaking
- Blueness due to lack of oxygen
- Loss of bladder and bowel control
Invasive and Non Invasive treatment of Epilepsy
- Non-Invasive Treatment for Focal seizures :
AEDs or automated external defibrillators, such as
- Non-Invasive Treatment for generalised seizures:
AEDs or automated external defibrillators, such as
- Non-invasive Treatment for Idiopathic epilepsy:
AEDs or automated external defibrillators, such as
- valproate, and
Taking AED (automated external defibrillators)
AEDs come in many forms, including tablets, capsules, liquids, and syrups. You usually need to take your medicine every day. Your specialist will start with a low dose and gradually increase the dose until your attacks stop.
If the first medication you try doesn’t work, your doctor may suggest you try another medication. It is important to follow the advice on when to take your AED and how much to take. Never stop taking an AED suddenly – it could cause a seizure.
Do not take any other medicines, including over-the-counter or complementary ones, while taking an AED without talking to your GP or specialist.
Other Non Invasive Treatment
- Neurostimulation techniques: This involves the use of electrical or magnetic stimulation to alter brain activity and reduce the occurrence of seizures
- Vagus nerve stimulation (VNS): The device sends regular electrical impulses to the nerve, which can help reduce the frequency and severity of seizures.
Invasive treatments for epilepsy may be necessary for individuals who do not respond to non-invasive treatments or who have a specific type of epilepsy that requires more aggressive intervention. Invasive treatments may include Surgery, Deep brain stimulation (DBS), Laser ablation, etc.,
Types of Epilepsy Surgery
- Respective surgery is the most common epilepsy surgery. It involves removing a small part of the brain. Resection surgery is usually performed on one of the temporal lobes.
- Laser Interstitial thermal therapy (LITT) is less invasive than respective surgery. It uses a laser to target a small portion of brain tissue. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is used to guide the laser light.
- Deep brain stimulation is using devices permanently placed deep in the brain.
MRI guides this procedure. Next, a generator that sends electrical impulses is implanted in the chest.
- Corpus callosotomy is an operation to completely or partially remove the part of the brain that connects the nerves to the left and right sides of the brain. This part of the brain is called the corpus callosum.
Epilepsy surgical procedure
- Pre-surgical Evaluation: Patients who are considered for epilepsy surgery undergo a thorough pre-surgical evaluation, including detailed medical history, neurological examination, imaging studies, and electrophysiological testing.
- Medications: Patients are usually required to stop taking antiepileptic medications before the surgery.
- Psychological Evaluation: Patients also undergo a psychological evaluation to assess their mental health and ability to cope with the surgery and recovery.
- Consent: The patient must sign a consent form after receiving full information about the surgery.
- Anaesthesia: The patient is given general anaesthesia, which puts them to sleep and ensures they feel no pain during the surgery.
- Brain Mapping: The surgeon uses brain mapping to identify the specific brain area responsible for seizures.
- Surgery: Once the seizure focus is identified, the surgeon removes the affected tissue or uses other techniques, such as laser ablation or electrical stimulation, to destroy the tissue responsible for seizures.
- Recovery: Patients typically stay in the hospital for a few days after the surgery to recover from the effects of anaesthesia.
- Follow-up: Patients are scheduled for follow-up appointments with their neurologist and surgeon to monitor their progress and adjust medications as needed.
- Complementary therapies: Therapies like acupuncture, massage therapy, dietary supplements, meditation, hypnosis, etc., can be used in addition to traditional medical treatments for epilepsy to help manage symptoms, improve quality of life, and reduce the side effects of medications.
- Ketogenic diet: The ketogenic diet is a high-fat, low-carb diet that helps control seizures in some people with epilepsy. It is prescribed by a doctor and closely observed by a nutritionist.
What is the Impact of epilepsy?
The impact of epilepsy on an individual can vary depending on the frequency and severity of seizures and other factors such as the age of onset and the underlying cause. Some of the potential impacts of epilepsy include –
- Physical effects: Seizures can cause physical injuries, such as falls or head injuries, and can also result in muscle weakness or paralysis.
- Emotional and psychological effects: Epilepsy can have significant emotional and psychological impacts on individuals and their families.
- Cognitive effects: Seizures can also affect cognitive function, particularly memory and attention.
When to consult a doctor?
It is essential to take advice from a doctor if one experiences any symptoms of epilepsy or has been diagnosed with epilepsy. Here are some specific situations when it is vital to consult a doctor:
- First seizure: The doctor will conduct a thorough examination and may perform tests to determine if the seizure was caused by epilepsy or another underlying medical condition.
- Changes in seizure activity may indicate that your current treatment plan needs to be adjusted.
- Side effects of medication: The doctor may need to adjust your medication or provide you with an alternative treatment.
- Injury during a seizure: The doctor will evaluate your injury and determine if additional treatment is necessary.
When to consult a Doctor
You can also get in touch with the expert Neurology doctors at Narayana Healthcare based in your city to get immediate attention and medical support during injuries, health disorders or any other health concern.
- Best Neurologist in Delhi
- Top Neurologist in Mumbai
- Best Neurologist in Bangalore
- Top Neurologist in Chennai
- Best Neurologist in Hyderabad
There are several invasive and non-invasive methods to treat epilepsy, with surgery being the last resort. This medical condition is controllable with medications and various alternative methods.
Frequently Asked Questions
Ques. Can you live a normal life with epilepsy?
It is possible to live a normal life with epilepsy, although it may require some management and adjustments.
Ques. Can epilepsy be cured completely?
Currently, there is no known cure for epilepsy. However, for many people with epilepsy, seizures can be controlled or reduced through medication, surgery, or other treatments. In some cases, people may even experience long periods without seizures or may be able to stop taking medication altogether after a period without seizures.
Ques. What are the main causes of epilepsy?
Ans. Epilepsy can be caused by many factors, which include:
- Genetic factors
- Structural abnormalities in the brain
- Head injuries
- Developmental disorders
Ques. What is the latest treatment for epilepsy?
Ans. Here are several new and emerging treatments for epilepsy that have been developed in recent years. Some of the latest treatments include:
- Responsive neurostimulation (RNS)
- Deep brain stimulation (DBS)
- Cannabidiol (CBD)
- Gene therapy
Ques. Does epilepsy get worse with age?
Ans. In some cases, epilepsy can worsen with age, but this is not always true. The course of epilepsy can vary widely from person to person and depends on several factors, including the underlying cause of epilepsy, the type of seizures, and the individual’s response to treatment.
Ques. Do any celebrities have epilepsy?
Ans. Many celebrities are living with epilepsy, like Neil Young, Adam Horovitz, Fatima Sana Sheikh, Shefali Zariwala, etc.