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Epilepsy is a common neurological disorder. Anyone may develop epilepsy but it is more common in young children and older adults. It happens slightly more in males than females.

For epilepsy, there is no cure but the medications and other strategies help you to manage the disorder.

What are the symptoms of epilepsy?

Usually, most common discover seizure as a first symptom of epilepsy. The symptoms of epilepsy vary from person to person, according to the type of seizures.

Focal (Partial) Seizures

Simple partial seizure – A simple partial seizure doesn’t involve loss of consciousness, the symptoms include:

  • Dizziness
  • Tangling and twitching limbs
  • Alterations to the sense of taste, smell, sight, touch, or hearing

Complex partial seizures
– It involves the loss of consciousness and awareness, along with other symptoms include:

  • Staring blankly
  • Unresponsiveness
  • Performing repetitive movements
  • Generalized seizures

Generalized seizures

Whole-brain is involved in generalized seizures. There are six types of generalized seizures:

Absence seizures – before it was called “petit mal seizures”. This type of seizure includes repetitive movements like lip-smacking or blinking. There is also a short loss of awareness.

Tonic seizures – these seizures cause muscle stiffness.

Atonic seizures – this includes sudden falls and loss of muscle control.

Clonic seizures – these are characterized by repeated, jerky muscle movements of the face, neck, and arms.

Myoclonic seizures – this causes spontaneous quick twitching of the legs and arms.

Tonic-clonic seizures – called grand mal seizures earlier. The symptoms include:

  • Shaking
  • Stiffening of the body
  • Loss of bladder or bowel control
  • Biting of the tongue
  • Loss of consciousness

Causes of epilepsy

The cause of epilepsy can’t be determined in 6 out of 10 people. Several things can lead to seizures. Possible cause of seizure includes:

  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Scarring on the brain after brain trauma (post-traumatic epilepsy)
  • Serious illness / very high fever
  • Stroke
  • Vascular disease
  • Lack of oxygen to the brain
  • Brain cyst or tumor
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Maternal drug use, lack of oxygen at birth, brain malformation, or prenatal injury
  • Infectious disease – AIDS & meningitis
  • Genetic or developmental disorders
  • Neurological disorders

In some types of epilepsy, heredity plays an important role, it can develop at any age, and diagnosis usually occurs in early childhood or after age 60.

How epilepsy is diagnosed?

If you feel that you have had a seizure you need to go to your doctor as soon as possible. A seizure can be a sign of serious medical illness.

As per your medical history and symptoms, your doctor will decide which tests need to be performed. Probably you go for a neurological examination to test your motor abilities and mental functioning.

To diagnose the cause of seizures, some tests are used such as complete blood count and chemistry of blood

Blood tests might help to look for any signs of infections, kidney and liver functions, and blood glucose levels.

Another diagnostics test includes:

Electroencephalogram (EEG) – It is the most common test performed in the case of epilepsy. In this procedure, electrodes are attached to your scalp using a paste. This is a completely non-invasive and painless test. After that, you may be asked to perform a specific task. In some cases, EEG is performed during sleep. These electrodes will record the electrical activities of your brain. Changes in normal brain wave patterns are very common during epilepsy – whether you having a seizure or not.

Imaging tests such as CT scan, MRI, PET, and SPECT (single positron emission computerized tomography) can reveal the tumors and other abnormalities that may cause seizures.

Treatment for epilepsy

In most cases, epilepsy can be managed. The treatment will be based on the severity of symptoms and how will you respond to therapy and also on your health.

The treatment options include:

Anti-epileptic (anticonvulsant antiseizure) drugs – These medications may help in reducing the number of seizures you have. In some cases, it eliminates seizures.

Vagus nerve stimulator – It is a device implanted under the skin on the chest, it electrically stimulates the nerve that runs through your neck. This helps to prevent seizures.

The ketogenic diet – It is very helpful in the case of people who don’t respond to medications, it contains high fat and low carbohydrate diet.

Brain surgery – The area of the brain that is causing seizure can be removed altered.