Epilepsy: Learning To Live With It.

Introduction

Epilepsy can cause strange sensations, emotions and behavior or sometimes convulsions, muscle spasms, and loss of consciousness. The reason for these abnormalities in behavior is the disturbance of the normal pattern of neuronal activity. In an epileptic person, clusters of nerve cells, or neurons, in the  brain sometimes signal abnormally. A person may have a seizure and still may not be a victim of epilepsy. This is so because many people , for example children with high fevers, experience one seizure and then never have another one. Doctors classify a person as epileptic only when a person has had two or more seizures. EEGs and brain scans are often resorted to for confirmation of epilepsy. Likelihood of suffering from epilepsy is highest during childhood and above the age of 65.

Generally, persons with epilepsy have same type of seizure each time i.e. symptoms are similar from episode to episode. But in some cases, patients have different types of seizures, with different symptoms each time. Seizures are classified as partial or generalized. The basis for this classification is the magnitude of abnormality of the brain activity at its beginning. Partial seizures or focal seizures are the ones that result from abnormal activity in just one part of the brain. Generalized seizures on the other hand, seem to involve all of the brain. There are cases too when seizures begin in one part of the brain and then spread to rest of the brain.

Cause

The causes that could lead to epilepsy are many. Seizures can be caused by anything that disturbs the normal pattern of neuron activity. This could be  some illness, brain damage, abnormal brain development,…Epilepsy can develop because of some abnormality in brain wiring, an imbalance of neurotransmitters, or some combination of these factors. There are cases, though very rare, when epilepsy is caused by a tumor in the brain. In about half of all the sufferers, epilepsy has no identifiable cause.

Treatment

Parents should watch out for signs of epilepsy and thus help in early diagnosis of epilepsy. Modern medicines and surgical techniques can control seizures in about 80% of cases. A word
of caution here: some antiepileptic drugs can interfere with efficacy of oral contraceptives. Besides, all epilepsy medications have some side effects, which could be mild fatigue, dizziness, and weight gain. The side effects could be more severe and include depression, skin rashes, loss of  coordination, speech problems and extreme fatigue.