What do you know about Epilepsy?

What is Epilepsy?

Epilepsy is a neurological condition characterised by unusual electrical activity in the brain.  A surge of electrical impulses cause brief changes in movement, behaviour, feeling, or awareness. These events, which are known as seizures can last from a few seconds to a few minutes. People who've had two or more seizures without obvious triggers at least 24 hours apart have epilepsy.

What are the causes?

Anything that disrupts the brain’s natural circuitry can bring on this disorder:
  • Genes
  • A change in the structure of your brain
  • Severe head injury
  • Brain infection or disease
  • Stroke
  • Lack of oxygen
However, most people with epilepsy never find a specific cause.

How is it diagnosed?

A diagnosis will be made once a doctor has reviewed the description of your seizures and your medical history, and then examined you.
There is a test called an electroencephalogram, which can also be referred to as EEG, which doctors use to confirm a diagnosis and get more information about your seizures. The EEG records your brain’s electrical activity as wavy lines. The patterns will change during a seizure and may show which part of the brain is affected.
Another way for a doctor to come up with a diagnosis and treatment plan is through brain tests like CT or MRI scans. A CT scan is a powerful type of X-ray, and an MRI uses magnets and radio waves to make pictures.
All these tests will help guide treatment going forward.

How is it treated?

Anti-seizure drugs are the most common epilepsy treatment.
If medications don't help you or cause side effects, a doctor may suggest the Ketogenic eating plan. The diet is high in fat and protein and low in carbs – this helps your body burn fat instead of sugar and creates changes in your brain that help lower your chances of seizures.
VNS is another treatment, which stands for vagus nerve stimulation. The doctor places a small device under the skin of your chest. It sends electrical pulses to the brain through a large nerve in your neck called the vagus nerve. It can also be referred to as a pacemaker for your brain and is another option if medication does not work for you.
Surgery can also be a possibility and stop partial seizures. If your seizures always begin in a single area of your brain, removing that area may stop them or make them easier to manage. Surgery also treats conditions that cause seizures, like a brain tumor.

What to do when someone has a seizure?

  • Time how long it lasts.
  • Protect the person from injury by clearing the area of anything hard or sharp.
  • Loosen anything at the neck that may affect his/her breathing.
  • Turn him/her onto their side.
  • Put a pillow or something soft beneath his/her head.
  • Do not restrict movement or place anything inside their mouth.
  • Stay with him/her until they are fully recovered
  • Call an ambulance if a seizure lasts more than 5 minutes, happens again or the person is pregnant, injured, or has diabetes.

Can you live a normal life with Epilepsy?

You can enjoy a full, active life.
Taking your medication on schedule may stop your seizures.
If not, you can get other kinds of help. A specialist can come up with ways to lessen the disorder's impact on your life.
Sources: www.webmd.com, www.epilepsy.org.za

Disclaimer: The information contained in this website is provided by the SPAR Group Ltd for general information purposes only. Any reliance you place on such information is therefore strictly at your own risk.