Epilepsy is a physical disease like headache, backache and asthma. It is one of the most common brain diseases both in children and adults. Epilepsy will result in recurrent ‘seizures’ or ‘fits’. Seizures occur due to the sudden, excessive electrical discharges in the neurons or brain cells. This type of condition can affect people at any age and each age group suffers from different problems said Dr Dinesh Nayak S, Director and Senior Consultant Neurology and Epileptology, Gleneagels Global Health City. Recently WHO report says, Approximately 10 million people in India are suffering from seizures that are associated with epilepsy and around 50 million people in the world are suffering from epilepsy disease and out of 80%, people are living in developing countries. It is a treatable disease but three-fourth people affected by this disease in developing countries do not get proper treatment added, Dr Dinesh Nayak
Facts on Epilepsy:
How is Epilepsy caused?
- Infection in the brain.
- Congenital abnormalities
- Stroke and brain Tumors
- Damage to the brain due to prenatal and perinatal injury.
- Injury in head or accident.
- During childhood prolonged high fever.
- Infections like encephalitis or meningitis.
- Low oxygen during birth.
- Some genetic conditions like tuberous sclerosis may result in brain injury.
What are the symptoms of seizures?
The physical manifestations of seizures can be in any form such asloss of consciousness, staring and unresponsiveness, up rolling of eyes or eye blinking repeatedly, sudden falling down, stiffening or jerking of limbs, etc.
How is Epilepsy diagnosed?
Epilepsy is diagnosed by your doctor after carefully analysing your symptoms (seizures) to decide if these are indeed unprovoked epileptic seizures. Most important thing here is not all episodes of loss of consciousness, unresponsiveness and shaking are seizures. There are many other phenomena that can look similar to seizures (seizure mimics). Video recordings of the episodes in your smart phone help doctors distinguish between seizures and mimics in many cases. Rarely, video-EEG recording of seizures in hospital is required to make this distinction. Tests are usually performed to support the diagnosis (EEG), to know which type of epilepsy one is dealing with (EEG/video-EEG) and to detect the underlying cause of epilepsy (MRI of the brain, genetic tests, etc). The interesting point to note here is that all these tests can be normal in patients with epilepsy, thus ruling out some of the more sinister causes.
How is epilepsy treated?
It is very important to seek proper medical attention for epilepsy. For those who fail to have adequate seizure control with one medication are better evaluated by a Neurologist to diagnose the condition and to treat effectively. Uncontrolled epilepsy needs evaluation by a specialist epilepsy centres with advanced treatment options. Epilepsy in 70-80% of patients can be easily controlled with available modern anti-seizure medications. Taking appropriate medications regularly can keep epilepsy under control.
Common mistakes which should be avoided by patients with epilepsy
Suddenly stopping the anti-seizure medications knowingly or by accident is one of the most common mistakes by patients with epilepsy. Some patients stop all medications suddenly to seek treatment with alternative medicines. But such sudden stopping of medicines can cause potentially life-endangering long seizures called status epilepticus. Most common cause of recurrence of seizures in patients with epilepsy is non-compliance with medications. Not taking good sleep can be problematic as sleep deprivation causes seizures. Taking alcoholic drinks can make the anti-seizure medications ineffective, leading to breakthrough seizures