Neurons generate electrical and chemical signals that act on other neurons to produce thoughts, feeling and actions.

Epilepsy is considered to be a spectrum disorder. It is the fourth most common neurological disorder, wherein clusters of nerve cells signal abnormally. This abnormality in sending signals results in epilepsy.

Such malfunctions cause episodes called Seizures. Neurons in epilepsy signal much faster than they would normally. This excessive electrical activity causes involuntary activities like movement, sensation, emotion and behavior.

Epilepsy can be developed by anyone, at any time. It can affect both men and women, and at every age. The occurrence of epilepsy can be spontaneous and unpredictable, which can interfere with daily life and can cause brain cell damage.

Types of Epilepsy

Focal or Partial Seizures

  • Simple or Partial Seizure– <15% of people have simple seizures. This kind of seizure affects any one area of the brain. It lead to temporary paralysis, visual changes and difficulty in simple movements. It may appear unaware or dazed.
  • Dis-cognitive Seizure– >33% of people have dis-cognitive seizures. This affects specific parts of the brain. It causes mental confusion, loss of memory and loss of awareness during the seizure. This type of seizure often causes unusual, repetitive movements, hand rubbing, swelling, swallowing, walking in circles or chewing.

Generalized Seizures– >30% of people have generalized seizures. This affects both sides of the brain.

  • Tonic Seizure It commonly affects arms, legs and the back. People with this type of seizure have a tendency of falling down because of muscle rigidity. The muscles in the affected area of the body tighten and stiffen, which is why no control can be exerted on them.
  • Absence or Petit Mal Seizure– It leaves people unaware of their surroundings and actions. These types of seizure patients stare blankly until the seizure is over.
  • Clonic Seizure– It generally affect neck, face and arms. Patients of this type may experience rhythmic or repeated jerking movements.
  • Atonic or Drop Seizure– It causes loss of muscle control. Patients may suddenly fall asleep.
  • Myoclonic Seizure– It generally affect arms and legs. It causes sudden jerking movements or twitches.
  • Tonic-clonic or Grand-mal Seizure– It causes loss of consciousness or body stiffening. Some people lose control of their bladder and may bite their tongue.

Causes

The four main causes of seizure include:

  • Brain infection
  • Head trauma
  • Brain tumor
  • Stroke
  • Other causes include:
  • Genetic factor
  • Prenatal factors
  • Neurodevelopmental disorders

Symptoms

Minor seizures can be dangerous if they occur during activities like swimming or driving.

  • Momentary stares
  • Getting blank suddenly
  • Loss of awareness
  • Confusion
  • Uncontrollable twitching
  • Repetitive movements

Risk Factors

  • Brain infections
  • Dementia
  • Family history of epilepsy
  • Age factors
  • Childhood seizure
  • Previous head injuries
  • Vascular diseases (Blood vessel disease and strokes)

Epilepsy Facts

  • Epilepsy is also a physical condition because the body is affected when someone has a seizure.
  • Seizure is sometimes called as fits or attacks.
  • Approximately 50 million people suffer from epilepsy worldwide. Among 80% of these people live in developing regions.
  • 1 among every 26 people are usually diagnosed with epilepsy.
  • Epilepsy can be treated but 70% of patients in developing areas do not receive the treatment they need for seizures.
  • Children and adults have the highest incidence rates.
  • 60% of people will respond positively to the first anti-epileptic drug prescribed to them.
  • 50% of patient will be able to stop using their anti-epileptic medicines, after being seizure-free for about 2-5 years.
  • There are over 40 different types of seizures.

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