Epilepsy – An Overview
Imagine a situation where you and your friends have met up for a party after a long time. You and the others are laughing, talking and even dancing.
But suddenly you notice your friend who was dancing, is now on the floor, his body moving and shaking uncontrollably. Nobody knows what to do. Nobody even knows what it is called. It is called a seizure.
Often people have a condition where due to various factors, they experience continuous surge of electrical activity in their brain resulting in recurrent seizures. This condition is known as Epilepsy.
What does the electrical activity effect?
Well, the electrical activity and its sudden surges causes temporary disturbances in the messaging or communication system between brain cells which makes it a neurological disorder.
How is Epilepsy caused?
Your brain and the cells in it are communicating at every second of the day which eventually results in the actions carried out by each and every part of your body. Many of you might not know this but electrical activity is present in your brain as well.
Epilepsy is caused when the system of messaging between brain cells is disturbed due to electrical activity which is faulty in nature.
The exact cause of epilepsy is not yet know but studies and research suggests that genetics and its factors plays an important role.
However, it is not all genetics, there are other external factors which can cause epilepsy as well:
– Head injury (recent/past)
– Brain Strokes
– Brain Tumors
– Brain infections (viral/tubercular)
– Prenatal injury – Injury before birth
– CNS toxins/Alcohol
– Various developmental disorders of brain including Autism
Types of Epileptic Seizures:
Epilepsy, as established earlier, causes a series of seizures but these seizures are further divided into various types while diagnosing and treating a patient for epilepsy.
These types are:
– Idiopathic Seizures: These are the seizures which do not have any apparent cause. Hence, they are called idiopathic. most commonly we see this type of Epilepsy in general
– Cryptogenic Seizures: These seizures according to the doctor has a cause but for some reason is not identifiable.
– Symptomatic Seizures: These seizures have a particular cause and the doctors can identify it as well.
There is another classification of seizures which is based upon the location of the particular seizure as well:
Partial Epileptic Seizure: A partial epileptic seizure is when a seizure has taken place in a part of the patient’s brain. Partial epileptic seizures are further divided into 2 types:
– Simple Partial seizure: In this type, the patient remembers or has the consciousness of what had happened even during the seizure, patient may complain of brief motor activity/sensory disturbance in part of body
– Complex Partial Seizure: Here, the patient does not have a recollection of the seizure or the memory of it will be very vague.
General Epileptic Seizure: In this type of epileptic seizure, entire brain effected with some sort of epileptic activity. The consciousness is also lost during this kind of epileptic seizure.
There are various types of seizures under General epileptic seizure as well. They are:
– Tonic-Clonic Seizure: This is the most well known and common type of generalised seizure. The patient experiences loss of consciousness, shaking and stiffness of all four limbs, may have frothing from mouth and urinary incontinence.
– Absence Seizures: These seizures involve short lapses in consciousness where the patient is said to be staring blankly into space, common in school going age, teachers may notice and complain to parents.
– Tonic Seizures: Here, the patient experiences limb stiffness and might fall.
Secondary Generalised Seizure: This kind of seizure happens when an epileptic activity originates in a part of a brain and then spreads to both the halves of the brain, Patient’s consciousness is lost in the process.
Management of Epileptic Seizures
If you are witnessing someone who is having a seizure, the first thing you do is try and not panic.
– Most people panic because it is not everyday you see someone having a seizure so do not panic and you can take the following steps:
– You can only move them if they are in a dangerous area such as on the road or in a railway station or even near an hot instrument
– Place a pillow under their head if there is one, or even a soft cloth bundled up will help.
– If they are wearing a tie or a scarf, untie it or loosen it to stimulate and ease breathing.
– Stay with them until they calm down and notice the time between the start and end of the seizure.
When do you seek professional help or call an ambulance?There are certain instances where seeking medical help will be inevitable. The situations where calling an ambulance is the right thing to do are:
– If it the first time he or she has had a seizure
– If the seizure lasts more than 5 minutes
– When the person has several seizures without regaining consciousness
– When the person gets injured while experiencing a seizure.
Treatments for Epilepsy
Unfortunately for most types of epilepsy, there is no sure shot treatment. However there are medications such as Anti-epileptic drug course prescribed by doctors to help prevent seizures.
It is always helpful to consult a Neurophysician to help diagnose the type of epilepsy you have and the types of seizures you experience. Accordingly, the doctor can prescribe the Anti-epileptic drug course which will be needed.
Surgery can also be performed to control seizures for refractory cases of Epilepsy i,e. if seizures not getting controlled even after taking more than 2-3 anti-epileptic medicines with good compliance and correct dosages.
Anti-seizure medications should not be stopped abruptly without consulting the doctor.
If you or someone you know are experiencing seizures even if they are not continuous or frequent, visit us at Sunshine Hospitals so that our Specialist doctors can help you manage it better with medication or with the help of a surgery.
About the Doctor:
After completing her MBBS in 1999 and getting a gold medal from SVS Medical College in Mahboobnagar, Dr. Anitha Kotha went on to become the Diplomate in National Board (DNB) General Medicine at the prestigious Nizam’s Institute of Medical Sciences(NIMS) for 3 years. After that, she did 3 years course of DM Neurology in NIMS and then worked as a Consultant Neurologist in Yashoda hospital -Somajiguda for 3 years. Dr. Anitha Kotha is one of the most experienced neurologist with perticular interest and expertised in Epileptic disorders.
About Sunshine Hospitals:
A Multi Super Speciality Institution, 500 bedded Sunshine Hospitals (Paradise Circle, Secunderabad) is promoted by globally reputed Joint Replacement Surgeon Dr. AV Gurava Reddy (Orthopedic Doctor) and like-minded associates who share the objective of making world-standard healthcare available, affordable and accessible to the common man. Sunshine has now become one of the best hospitals for many treatments including Orthopedic, Gastroenterology, Cardiology, Trauma and Neurology.