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Last Updated: Oct 28, 2021
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Epilepsy - Symptom, Treatment And Causes

About Symptoms Causes Precautions Diagnosis Treatment Side effects Risk factors Complications Home Remedy Diet

What is Epilepsy?

Epilepsy is a chronic neurological disorder that causes recurrent seizures. When there is a sudden rush of electrical activity occurs in the brain, immediately seizure starts. Generalised seizures and partial seizures are two types of seizures. The first one affects the entire brain whereas the latter affects a part of the brain.

It is hard to recognize a mild seizure that can last for a few seconds during that condition the patients may be unconscious. Strong seizures develop uncontrollable muscle twitches, spasms and last for several minutes. During this time, some patients will feel confused or lose consciousness. Anybody can develop with epilepsy; however, it is quite common in adults and young children. It occurs slightly more in males than females.

Is Epilepsy a disease?

Yes, Epilepsy is a medical condition that can be described as a common mental disorder that often causes repeated episodes of seizures. The root cause behind Epilepsy is a short change in normal brain activity due to any physical or mental injury or abnormality in the brain. It is also known by the name of seizure disorder.

What are the Symptoms Of Epilepsy?

Epilepsy is a disorder or any abnormal activity caused in the brain which affects the coordination process. The symptoms depend upon the type of seizure and the seizure is categorized into two types by the doctors:

Focal seizure: This is also called partial seizures and occur in one part of the brain. The symptoms include mental illness, narcolepsy or migraine.

Generalized seizures: This type of seizures involve every part of your brain. The symptoms involve lip-smacking or blinking, sudden collapse or fall down, jerking or repetitive muscle movements.

The general symptoms of epilepsy are as follows:

  • Staring spell
  • Temporary confusion
  • Uncontrolled jerking of hands or legs
  • Loss of awareness or consciousness
  • Psychotic symptoms which include anxiety
  • Fear
  • Deja vu

Can you suddenly develop Epilepsy?

Yes, it can develop at any age to any person. Some of the reasons why a child might develop Epilepsy during their initial stages of life:

  • Low oxygen pressure during birth.
  • Development of brain tumor or any other brain injury.
  • Genetic conditions that result in brain malfunction.
  • Infections such as meningitis or encephalitis.

What is the Root Cause of Epilepsy?

The cause of epilepsy is not identifiable but the traces have been found which include:

  1. Genetic influence:

    Sometimes epilepsy also run in the family thus it is called having a genetic influence. There are some kinds of epilepsy which are linked to specific genes and some also get triggered due to certain environmental changes.

  2. Head trauma:

    This can be the result of an accident or any severe injury.

  3. Brain condition:

    The condition of the brain is also very important as if there is any damage, stroke or trauma then it can cause epilepsy.

  4. Infectious disease:

    Like AIDS, meningitis, and viral encephalitis can be one of the causes for epilepsy.

What are the Precautions for Epilepsy?

  • Blood sugar and sodium are at abnormal levels
  • Get plenty of sleep, keep a sleep schedule and stick to it
  • Avoid taking drugs and alcohol
  • Avoid playing video games, watching TV and computers continuously
  • Do not skip the medicines prescribed by your doctor
  • Try to cope up with a healthy diet plan
  • Replace glass with plastic in order to avoid cuts during seizures
  • Swimming alone should be avoided
  • Wear a helmet while biking, hiking, playing to avoid head injuries
  • Don't use the electrical appliance near water, in case of seizure you may electrocute yourself
  • Take showers instead of baths
  • Keep the doors, windows open. During the seizure time, your loved ones may approach you fast
  • Make your child or the patient wear a medical alert bracelet at all times
  • Educate your child or the patient about his or her medical conditions, precautionary methods during seizures.
  • Assist the patients during washroom or other activities if the patient is an elderly person.

How to Diagnose Epilepsy?

To diagnose epilepsy doctor may recommend various tests that include the following:

  • A neurological exam:

    If have any behavioural change or change in motor abilities or in any problem in body part then you will be recommended neurological exam.

  • Blood test:

    It will be done in order to test if there is any infection or disease in the body which can affect the brain and is associated with seizures or not.

  • Electroencephalogram (EEG):

    This test is the most common test that is done to diagnose epilepsy in which electrodes are attached to the scalp in order to detect the activity of the brain.

  • Computerized tomography (CT) scan:

    A CT scan is done in order to get the cross-sectional image of the brain. Through this scan abnormalities in the brain can be diagnosed properly.

  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI):

    In this with the help of radio and magnetic waves detailed view of the brain is given. This helps the doctor to determine the exact problem which can be either cyst, bleeding, tumor, etc.

  • Positron emission tomography (PET):

    A very low level of radioactive material is injected in the brain in order to determine the active areas or the brain and abnormalities as well.

Can Epilepsy be cured?

There is no perfect cure for Epilepsy found so far, yet early treatment and medication can help the patient to control the severity and frequency of the seizure episodes. Another way to control the episodes is to detect and treat the underlying brain condition.

What is the Most Common Treatment for Epilepsy?

Treatment for epilepsy are as follows:

  • 1. Medication: It has been seen that most of the time anti-seizure medication can cure or help in curing seizures. These medications are also known as anti-epilepsic medication. But these medications also have some side effects which include: weight gain Fatigue, dizziness, loss of coordination, skin rash, loss of bone density, and speech problems.

    2. Surgery: When medication stopped working then and the seizure starts becoming out of control then the last option left is surgery. In this, area which is affected with epilepsy is removed from the brain. Although medications are still given after the surgery the dosage is reduced.

    3. Therapies:

    • Vagus nerve stimulation:

      In this device is implanted by the doctor which is known as vagus nerve stimulator. It is implanted under the chest skin and it is similar to a pacemaker. After this stimulator wires are connected to the nerve in the neck.

    • Ketogenic diet:

      This is very helpful during epilepsy and may people who suffer from epilepsy have reduced the symptoms of seizure by following the ketogenic diet which is high in fats and low in carbohydrates.

    • Deep brain stimulation:

      In deep brain stimulation electrodes are implanted in the specific part of your brain (thalamus) by the doctor. A generator is implanted in the chest and the electrodes are connected with it which sends electric impulses to the brain thus reducing seizure.

  • Does Epilepsy go away?

    Epilepsy does go away on its own. It does not happen in a lot of cases, but in some cases, one can see its effects fading in the patient with the help of proper medication and treatment. About 70% of the long-term causes of recurring seizures can be controlled with treatment.

    What are the side effects for the epilepsy treatment?

    Side effects include:

    • Rash
    • Prolonged fever
    • Mouth ulcers
    • Sore throat
    • Weakness
    • Pinpoint bleeding
    • Excessive fatigue
    • Increased seizure
    • Excessive fatigue
    • Severe throat pain

    What are the Risk factors for epilepsy?

    These are the factors which may increase the risk of epilepsy:

    • Age:

      It plays a very important factor in epilepsy as it mostly occurs in childhood or in older adults. But this condition may occur at any age.

    • Family history:

      If any member of the family is suffering or has suffered through epilepsy then there can be a risk of developing a seizure disorder.

    • Dementia:

      If you have dementia then the risk of epilepsy increases by itself.

    • Brain infection:

      Infection or diseases such as meningitis can cause inflammation or in the spinal cord thus increasing the risk.

    • Stroke or another vascular disease:

      If you have the problem of stroke or any other vascular disease then it can damage the brain and can result in epilepsy.

    Does Epilepsy affect memory?

    Yes, frequent episodes of epileptic seizures can damage the brain leading to major psychological and neurological abnormalities like memory loss, or any underlying disorder associated with the brain which can also lead to memory impairment. Not only Epilepsy but some of the anti-epileptic medication can also cause memory loss.

    Not only seizures manipulate the short-term memory but also in some cases, long-term memory is also affected as sometimes it isn't fully integrated into the brain’s memory system. It can also cause secondary damage to the memory in case of prolonged status epilepticus and hypoxia.

    How does Epilepsy kill?

    Epilepsy is a common neurological disorder that often causes unprovoked seizures, which may also lead to sudden death. Since it affects all ages, especially among young children, the probability of dying from Epilepsy is rare. Some may suggest that the root cause of the death by seizure is poor management or late treatment. During seizures, one has the following problems:

    • Irregular heart rate (which can cause cardiac arrest).
    • Breathing problem, Epilepsy often causes breathing problems that can lead to sudden death which can be life-threatening if not treated well. For instance, convulsive seizures can cause obstructed airways, which can lead to suffocation until death.
    • Other symptoms can also cause death as the patient is not able to control themselves which can cause physical damage and death.

    Other than the sudden death due to seizures, here are some other reasons that may cause death:

    • Stopping or changing medication suddenly.
    • Missed doses of medication, or not taking medication as prescribed.
    • Having an intellectual disability, with an IQ under 70.
    • Being between the age of 20 and 40.

    What are the Complications for epilepsy?

    These are the following complications that can happen due to epilepsy:

    • Falling:

      If you have a sudden stroke or seizure then you may fall down which may lead to severe injuries like breaking or bone or head injury.

    • Drowning:

      If you suffer from seizure or stroke then the chance of drowning increases up to 15-19 times more than other people. Therefore one must be careful while swimming or bathing in a river.

    • Accidents:

      If you are driving and have a problem of seizure then being cautious is important as there can be abnormal activities in the body thus it can make operating a vehicle dangerously.

    • The complication in pregnancy:

      If a mother suffers from seizure during pregnancy then it is dangerous for the baby as well as for the mother because taking anti-epileptic medications at times increases the risk of defects in the babies.

    • Emotional issues:

      A person with epilepsy have more risk of developing any emotional issues like suicidal thoughts, depression, anxiety. It becomes very hard for the person to control these feelings.

    What is the Best Home Remedy for Epilepsy?

    Some of the anti-epileptic medicines are Clonazepam, Gabapentin, Phenytoin, Tiagabine, Topiramate, Rufinamide, Oxcarbazepine, Acetazolamide, Carbamazepine etc.

    • Children are usually intolerable to the side effects of AEDs. A high-fat, low-carb ketogenic diet shows some success in reducing seizures in them. This is less restrictive and shown positive effects.
    • Garlic has anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic properties that work out well in seizures and other associated symptoms.
    • Herbs namely passionflower, valerian, chamomile may make the drugs more effective and promote calming effects in the brain.
    • Vitamin D, Vitamin E, Vitamin B6, Magnesium and taurine help in reducing episodes of seizures.
    • Acupuncture and chiropractic support in mitigating anxiety and stress.

    • Aromatherapy using lavender oil, jasmine and chamomile reduce the stress and anxiety thus reduces seizure attacks.

    What Foods Can Trigger Epilepsy?

    Some of the foods that can alleviate the conditions during epilepsy or trigger seizures are as follows: Soy Products: Soy mostly triggers allergies and seizures in children that is found in many baby foods. Try to scrutiny the soy-free product before feeding your children.

    • Dairy Products: In recent decades, it has been found that dairy products induce allergies among children. So, cut down the usage of dairy products in order to reduce the episodes of seizures.
    • Gluten: Some people have gluten-intolerance. The proteins in the grains have an inflammatory property that would trigger seizures.
    • Sleep deprivation is a predominant trigger for seizures. Hence, have enough sleep
    • Antibiotics like penicillin and painkillers like tramadol might increase the risk of seizures.

    Is milk good for Epilepsy?

    If an individual is going through any food allergy, the allergy can trigger seizure episodes. Dairy allergy is one of the major concerns because of easy accessibility and excess use in most of the products. Any food allergy can induce seizure episodes.

    Summary: Epilepsy is a medical condition that can be described as a common mental disorder that often causes repeated episodes of seizures. The root cause behind Epilepsy is a short change in normal brain activity due to any physical or mental injury or abnormality in the brain.

    Popular Questions & Answers

    Sometimes, I can feel my brain nerves and blackout with headache. And too much irritation and frustration. What is the problem with me? Is it normal?

    Homeopathy Doctor, Noida
    1. Take adequate night sleep 2. Eat at regular intervals. As starvation/gas can trigger headache. 3. Avoid things that can trigger headache. Common triggers include alcohol, caffeine or poor sleep. Inculcate good sleep practices like having a regu...
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    Hello doctors. Im suffering from a kind of difficulty or unpleasant discomfort since 10 year. The difficulty start suddenly and remain till the 30 to 1 minute and slowly I feels relief and normal, I never unconscious during that difficulty attack but really to much difficulty which cannot explain in words. Im taking 2 medicine clobazam and lacosamide but still problem happen time to time no improvement. My neuro doctor always force to take me anxiety medicine, what the difficulty I have mentioned above that doesn't detect in other normal condition even long 4 hour only 2 time has detected in eeg while that difficulty happened during eeg test, eeg show abnormal sharp wave discharge from temporal lobe region and mri report show 1.ring shaped cortical/subcortical lesion with eccentric dot and blooming on swi and calcification on phase images in the left hippocampal with minimal surrounding edema. Findings represent calcified granuloma most likely related to neurocysticercosis. Other diagnostic consideration is tuberculosis. 2. Volume loss and no definite increased signal of left hippocampus as compared to the right with slight dilation of left temporal horn. Both mammillary bodies are unremarkable. Findings are concerning for left mesial temporal sclerosis. My neuro doctor force me to take anxiety because of normal eeg report guessing whichever I feels that only anxiety attack but I always refuse to take. Im searching a good treatment for my problem. I really don't to take higher dose of seizure medicines which gives only side effects and affecting my daily life. I have noticed after started seizure medicine additional problems are developing and feeling weakness. Please doctors suggest to me a life time cure of this problem. Thank you.

    MD Medicine, DM Neurology
    Neurologist, Panchkula
    Dear Ram, The problem you are facing is being treated as Epiulepsy. you may have to furnish more details about he nature of episode you are having, in view of the existing lesion in temporal lobe i would like to consider Epilepsy as the main disor...
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    I have been taking medication of epilepsy (seizures for few seconds which include blinking of eyes) I have been taking mazetol & rivotril for last 20 years i.e since childhood (i am 28 years old. Though it is under control but not completely cured. I want to know how long I have to take medicine .plus what else I can do to cure it like exercise or change in diet to completely or reduce it.

    MD Medicine, DM Neurology
    Neurologist, Panchkula
    Hello, the problem ypu are having seems to be Eyelid Myoclonia a not very common condition and frequently requires life long treatment but is adequately controlled. There is no specific exercise, diet etc which control seizure. I would like to cha...

    My 25 years old son is taking medicines for epilepsy since last 5 years. He gets seizures only when the medicines are not taken timely. He takes 2x2 levipil 1g tablets & other tablets. Can you advise homeo medicines for him.

    MD Medicine, DM Neurology
    Neurologist, Panchkula
    Hello, the medication is able to control the epilepsy is a very good sign. The need is to continue in the follow up and take the medicines regularly. Unfortunately you have not mentioned the kind of epilepsy he has been diagnosed with. The treatme...

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