Epilepsy is a chronic neurological condition in the brain that causes recurring seizures that happen without warning. This neurological condition is also known as seizures disorder. Epilepsy is more prevalent in young children and older adults than those in other age groups.
A seizure is like a disordered electrical activity in the brain. Seizures are short episodes of a few seconds to a few minutes when the normal pattern of activity in the brain is temporarily disturbed and brain cells begin to fire abnormally. Nerve cells communicate with each other through electrical impulses. During a seizure, these impulses become overactive or occur at the same time, which leads to irregular brain activity. This can cause changes in behavior and body functioning.
Mild seizures can last for a few seconds and are difficult to realize. Strong seizures can result in spasms and muscle twitches which can last for a few seconds to several minutes. During a strong seizure, a person may become confused or become unconscious. Having a single seizure does not mean that a person has epilepsy. Lots of people have a single seizure and epilepsy does not develop further.
Many people with epilepsy manage the disorder well through medication, diet or medical treatments, but complications with epilepsy can lead to serious health concerns or death.
The type of seizure defines the type of epilepsy you have. Here are types of seizures:
Generalized seizures: These seizures affect both sides of the brain.
Myoclonic seizures: With this type of seizure, the person may experience brief, shock-like jerks of muscle(s) which last few seconds and can result in a fall at times. Person might have multiple myoclonic seizures within a short time period.
Tonic-clonic seizures (Grand Mal Seizures): With this type of seizure, the person’s body muscles stiffens (the tonic phase). Their limbs then begin to jerk in strong and rhythmic movements (the clonic phase). The person may cry out, fall to the ground, lose consciousness. The person may have headache, confusion or tiredness after a tonic-clonic seizure. Tonic-clonic seizures generally last one to three minutes.
Atonic Seizures (Drop Attacks): With this type of seizure, the person may experience a sudden loss of muscle tone, causing a person’s body to limp or fall which may result in injury due to fall.
Absence seizures (Petit Mal Seizures): With this type of seizure, the person’s awareness and responsiveness are impaired. Person may blink rapidly, blank stare into space for a few seconds. These brief and non-convulsive events start suddenly which last a few seconds and then stop suddenly. They usually occur in children and they can occur many times in a day.
Focal (Partial) seizures: These seizures affect just one part of the brain.
Simple focal seizures: With this type of seizure, the person may experience twitching or a change in sensation, such as a strange taste or smell. The person does not lose consciousness during a simple focal seizure and remembers it. This seizure usually lasts less than 1-2 minutes.
Complex focal seizures: With this type of seizure, the person may lose consciousness and do not remember the seizure after it is over. The person will be unable to respond to questions or direction for up to a few minutes. This seizure may last around 1-2 minutes and go up to 10 minutes in some cases.
Secondary generalized seizures: With this type of seizure, it begins in one part of the brain but then spreads to both sides of the brain. In simple words, the person first has a focal seizure and then a generalized seizure. This seizure may last around 5 minutes.
In the majority of cases, the specific cause(s) of epilepsy are unclear. For many people with epilepsy, no cause is ever found. The most common conditions that can trigger epileptic seizures are:
Brain infections such as meningitis, encephalitis and HIV/AIDS
Brain diseases such as alzheimer’s disease
Lack of oxygen to the brain
Chemical or metabolic imbalances such as phenylketonuria
Problems during pregnancy such as infections
Lack of oxygen or other problems during or at the time of birth such as congenital brain defects
Serious illness or high fever
Medication side effects
Frequent and prolonged alcohol use
The primary symptom of epilepsy is seizures, which usually lasts for a few seconds to a few minutes. The major type of seizures and symptoms observed in the corresponding types are listed below:
Myoclonic seizures: With this type of seizure, the person may experience symptoms such as:
Shock-like jerks of muscle(s)
Fall of the body
Tonic-clonic seizures (Grand mal seizure): With this type of seizure, the person may experience symptoms such as:
Body muscles stiffness (the tonic phase)
Strong and rhythmic jerks (the clonic phase)
Fall to the ground
Atonic Seizures (Drop Attacks): With this type of seizure, the person may experience symptoms such as:
Sudden loss of muscle tone
Limp or fall of the body
Absence seizure (Petit mal seizure): With this type of seizure, the person may experience symptoms such as:
Blank stare in space
Lose consciousness for a while
Simple focal (partial) seizures: With this type of seizure, the person may experience symptoms such as:
Strange smell or taste
Jerking movements in a particular part of the body
Unexplained fear, rage or other emotional symptoms
Complex focal (partial) seizure: With this type of seizure, the person may experience symptoms such as:
Repetitive movements of the hand
Make a blank stare
Chewing or smacking lips
Epilepsy should be diagnosed only when the person had at least two seizures. The affected person or affected person’s family members or any other observers may require to share the following important details with the neurologist:
Place and activity at the time of seizure
Time of seizure
Time period of seizure
Frequency of seizures
Experience before during or after seizure
The doctor will perform several tests, the results of these tests will help the doctor to make a diagnosis. These tests include:
Blood tests: To rule out possible causes of seizures such as diabetes or low blood sugar.
Atonic Seizures (Drop Attacks):
Electroencephalography (EEG): To record the brain’s electrical activity.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): To take images of the brain to confirm epilepsy.
Computerized tomography (CT) scan: To take images of the brain using X-rays to rule out other seizure causes such as tumors, bleeding and cysts.
Electrocardiogram (ECG): To record the heart’s electrical activity to rule out any heart-related problems.
Positron emission tomography (PET) scans: To take images of the brain and record chemical changes in the brain to confirm epilepsy.
Single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT): To identify the hotspots in the brain by verifying the part of the brain that has the highest blood flow. Generally, the regions with the most increased blood flow are at the spot where a seizure begins.
Neuropsychological tests: To test a person's thinking, memory and speech skills to find out areas of the brain that are affected.
There is no known way to prevent epilepsy. Treatment for epilepsy is considered only when the affected person had at least two seizures. Treatment of epilepsy is done by a neurologist or a general physician based on your symptoms. The treatment options for epilepsy include:
Vagus nerve stimulator: A stimulator-like device is placed under the chest skin and electrical stimulation is sent to the nerves of the neck. This can prevent the occurrence of seizures.
Anti seizure, anticonvulsant drugs: These medications should be taken exactly as the doctor prescribes you. These medications work by reducing electrical activity in the part of the brain responsible for seizures which help to reduce and sometimes completely eliminate seizures. The dose of the medicine may vary from person to person based on their symptoms. The following medicines can be taken to control epilepsy:
Brain surgery: The part of the brain which causes seizure like a tumor or cyst may be removed or can be altered surgically. Surgery is only considered if medicines are ineffective.
Deep brain stimulation: Surgeons implant electrodes into a brain layer called the thalamus. Electrodes are placed in the chest region and attached to the generator. The generator regulates electrical impulses. This therapy reduces the number of episodes but does not cure epilepsy. This therapy is recommended only when medicines are ineffective and surgery is not possible.
Alternative treatments: These alternative treatments may help some people in their efforts to deal with epilepsy. These treatments are not meant to replace your regular medical treatments but they are done in addition. Alternative treatments may include:
Nutritional dietary supplements
Diet: Many people who do not respond to medications benefit from high fat and low carbohydrate diet.
Fruits and Vegetables: Avocados, coconuts, berries, cherries, citrus fruits, tomatoes, spinach, kale, broccoli, brussels sprouts
Fruits and Vegetables:
Fruits and Vegetables:
Unrefined Carbohydrates: Whole grains, brown rice, wheat bread, pasta, yogurt, nuts
Lean Protein: Beans, tofu, soy milk, eggs, milk, cottage cheese
Meat and Seafood: Red meat, poultry, fish, shrimp, scallops, lobster
At Rx.com we are committed to your savings! We are not insurance, we are a Pharmacy Discount Affiliate (PDA). We allow cash paying customers to purchase medication at the pre negotiated price the PBM has with the pharmacy. Therefore a cash paying customer that doesn't have insurance but does have an Rx.com discount card or coupon(s) can receive substantial savings over paying retail price. We will never sell your private information to 3rd parties, there is no obligation or membership sign-up required. Rx.com is 100% FREE to use and there are NO FEES associated with our program.
More Articles from Education
What is plaque psoriasis? Psoriasis is a long-term inflammatory skin disease that results from a problem with the body’s immune system and can affect many areas of the body. There are several types of psoriasis, but plaque psoriasis is the most com..
What is eczema? Eczema is a medical condition in which the skin or patches of the skin become red, itchy and irritated. Person also may have tiny bumps or blisters. Eczema is not contagious. Dermatitis is a skin inflammation. Eczema is the most commo..
What is high cholesterol? Cholesterol is a yellow-colored, waxy and fat-like substance. It is made by your liver from the fats, carbohydrates and proteins in the food that you eat. Most of the cholesterol in your food comes from dairy products, meat,..
What is heartburn? Heartburn is a burning pain felt in the throat or lower chest or upper abdomen that occurs when stomach acid or food rises up from the stomach into your food pipe which connects your throat to your stomach. Heartburn is a common sy..
What is gout? Gout is the most common type of inflammatory arthritis. Gout causes intense pain, swelling, redness and stiffness in one or more joints, especially in the joint of the big toe but can affect any joints of your body like elbows, knees, a..
What is epilepsy and seizure?? Epilepsy is a chronic neurological condition in the brain that causes recurring seizures that happen without warning. This neurological condition is also known as seizures disorder. Epilepsy is more prevalent in young c..
What is thyroid? Thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped tiny organ that is found around the region of the windpipe exactly in the front of the neck (trachea) and below the Adam’s apple cartilage. It has two side lobes that are joined in the center by ..
What is Migraine? Migraine is a neurovascular headache and is caused by an interaction between blood vessels and nerve abnormalities. Migraine is the second most common type of primary headache. Migraine typically lasts anywhere between 4 to several..
What is Bipolar Disorder? Bipolar Disorder is a medical condition of mood disorder. Bipolar disorder or mania-depressive illness causes abnormal swings in mood and behavior. A person’s capacity to complete daily tasks can be severely affected due to ..
What is Diabetes? Diabetes is a medical condition that affects how your body uses blood glucose or blood sugar. It occurs when your blood glucose or blood sugar is too high. Glucose is an important source of energy for the cells in the body and it ..
What is High Blood Pressure? High blood pressure is a medical condition that can lead to many health complications such as coronary heart disease, heart attack, heart failure and kidney failure. The medical term fo..
What is Depression? Depression is a medical condition that is clinically known as mood disorder or major depressive disorder. Depression is among the most common of all mental health illnesses and impacts many ..
Rx.com does not warrant the accuracy of the information on this website. All information on this site is intended to supplement, not substitute for, the expertise and judgment of your physician, pharmacist or other healthcare professional. It should not be construed to indicate that use of a drug is safe, appropriate, or effective for you. Consult your healthcare professional before using any drug. All logos, brand names and trademarks on this website are the property of their respective owners. Rx.com is not endorsed or affiliated with any brands represented on this website.
Pharmacy discounts are Not Insurance, and are Not Intended as a Substitute for InsuranceTHE DISCOUNT IS ONLY AVAILABLE AT PARTICIPATING PHARMACIES2022 All Rights Reserved | Rx.com®