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All about epilepsy seizures types of epilepsy common types of epilepsy types of seizures causes of epilepsy causes of children epilepsy factors triggering epilepsy symptoms of epilepsy diagnosis of epilepsy treatments for epilepsy epilepsy medications epilepsy surgery vagus nerve stimulation epilepsy diet prevention of epilepsy epilepsy in children pregnancy and epilepsy difference between seizures and epilepsy grand mal seizure absence seizure (petit mal seizure) febrile seizure epileptic seizures status epilepticus causes of seizures

What are epileptic seizures?

An epileptic seizure, often referred to as a fit, occurs when there is an abnormal discharge of neurones in the brain. Some seizures are triggered by lights flashing at a particular frequency, physical or emotional stress, allergies and tiredness. The type of seizure experienced depends on what area of the brain is affected. There are two broad categories of seizures - partial seizures and generalised seizures. Partial seizures are usually confined to either twitching of one limb or to part of a limb, or to unusual tastes or sensations such as pins and needles in a distinct part of the body. Generalised seizures

are the type that most people associate with epilepsy. The individual may cry out before becoming rigid and falling to the ground. The muscles then relax and contract alternately in a jerky fashion causing the person to convulse. Breathing may stop and the skin may turn slightly blue and the tongue may be bitten. A person can be at risk for having epileptic seizures for several reasons: history of trauma to the head, as well as brain injuries from stroke, bleeding, infection or meningitis. Inherited metabolic abnormalities in brain chemistry can cause seizures in children who are born with epilepsy. Brain tumors can also cause seizures, as can recurrent alcohol use. Stress or other illness can exacerbate the disorder.

Epileptic seizures are diagnosed by taking a history of the patient, and by administering an electroencephalogram (EEG) test. An EEG records brain activity which is printed out in graph-like form for physicians to interpret. Today's advanced digital EEGs provide for 24-hour recordings, and there are also video EEGs, which can allow direct correlation between a patient's movements and brain activity. Once epileptic seizures are diagnosed, treatment can be prescribed. Today, there are many helpful anti-seizure medications. Surgery is also an option for some patients; neurosurgeons remove the part of the brain that isn't working properly, or cut brain fibers involved in the abnormal firings.

The type of treatment administered depends on the underlying cause of the seizures. For example, if the patient has low glucose or abnormal calcium, your doctor will try to determine the cause of these abnormalities and treat it accordingly. Up to 80 percent of people with epilepsy are able to control their condition with medication. However, not all patients require anti-epileptic drugs. These drugs aim to prevent seizures. The type of drug therapy prescribed depends on the type of seizure, the underlying cause of the epilepsy, age of the patient and possible side effects.

Some patients may require more than one drug depending on they type of epilepsy they suffer from. Treatment usually starts with one drug at low dose. The dose is then increased slowly. In most patients epilepsy remits over a period of years and drug therapy may be withdrawn slowly. However, there is a 40 percent risk of recurrence of the epilepsy in the first year after withdrawal of anti-epileptic drugs. Many of the anti-epileptic drugs interact with other medications so it is important that the doctor knows about all of the medications a patient is taking. For a list of common anti-epileptic drugs and their side effects click here. In some cases surgery may be required to treat the underlying cause of epilepsy such as where epilepsy is caused by vascular malformations or in refractory epilepsy.

More information on epilepsy (seizures)

What is epilepsy? - Epilepsy is a general term that includes various types of seizures. Epilepsy is characterized by unprovoked, recurring seizures that disrupt the nervous system.
What are seizures? - Seizures (or convulsions) are temporary alterations in brain functions due to abnormal electrical activity of a group of brain cells that present with apparent clinical symptoms and findings.
What types of seizures are there? - The two main categories of seizures include partial seizures and generalized seizures. A partial seizure can evolve to a generalized seizure.
What types of epilepsy are there? - There are several types of epilepsy. Epilepsy can be divided into two broad categories: idiopathic epilepsy and symptomatic epilepsy.
What're the common types of epilepsy? - The most common types of epilepsy are absence epilepsy, temporal lobe epilepsy, frontal lobe epilepsy, occipital lobe epilepsy, and parietal lobe epilepsy.
What causes epilepsy? - Epilepsy may be caused by a number of unrelated conditions, including damage resulting from high fever, stroke, toxicity, or electrolyte imbalances.
What causes children epilepsy? - There are many possible causes of epilepsy in children. Seizures in infants and children may be due to birth defects, difficulties during delivery, or poisoning.
What factors will trigger epilepsy? - The triggers of epilepsy include inadequate sleep, food allergies, alcohol and smoking, flashing lights, developmental anomalies, and brain tumours.
What're the symptoms of epilepsy? - There are many forms of epilepsy, each with its own characteristic symptoms. The basic symptom of epilepsy is a brief and abnormal phase of behavior.
How is epilepsy diagnosed? - Making an accurate diagnosis is vital in planning the correct treatment to control seizures. Taking a medical history can help rule out non-epilepsy conditions.
What're the treatments for epilepsy? - For most people with epilepsy, treatment can reduce or prevent seizures and allow many patients to remain free of seizures for the rest of their lives.
What epilepsy medications are available? - Epilepsy is often treated with medication, neurocybernetic prostheses. Medications available for the treatment of seizures include phenytoin, carbamazepine, divalproex.
What epilepsy surgeries are available? - Surgical techniques to remove injured brain tissue may be appropriate for many patients with epilepsy. The most common surgery for epilepsy is temporal lobectomy.
What is vagus nerve stimulation? - Vagus nerve stimulation is a recently developed form of seizure control which uses an implanted electrical device.
What epilepsy diet is suggested? - It is believe that a restricted caloric intake while on a balanced diet can lead to measurable seizure reduction among all age groups.
How to prevent epilepsy? - Effective actions for the prevention of epilepsy include adequate pre-natal and post-natal care, safe delivery, control of fever in children, control of parasitic diseases.
Epilepsy in children - Epilepsy is a common childhood disorder. The prospect of control by means of anti-epileptic drugs is good in most children with epilepsy.
Pregnancy and epilepsy - Women with epilepsy who become pregnant have a higher risk for complications than women who don't have epilepsy.
Difference between seizures and epilepsy - Seizures are a symptom of epilepsy. Epilepsy is the underlying tendency of the brain to produce a sudden burst of electrical energy.
What's a grand mal seizure? - A grand mal seizure is a seizure involving the entire body, usually characterized by muscle rigidity, violent rhythmic muscle contractions, and loss of consciousness.
What's absence seizure (petit mal seizure)? - Absence seizure e - also known as petit mal seizure - is a type of seizure that most often occurs in children.
What is a febrile seizure? - A febrile seizure is a convulsion in a child triggered by a fever. A febrile seizure may be as mild as the child's eyes rolling or limbs stiffening.
What are epileptic seizures? - An epileptic seizure, often referred to as a fit, occurs when there is an abnormal discharge of neurones in the brain.
What is status epilepticus? - Status epilepticus is a continuous seizure state. Status epilepticus is most often caused by not taking anticonvulsant medication as prescribed.
What causes seizures? - Seizures may be caused by many conditions, diseases, injuries, and other factors. Injuries that may cause seizures include choking, head injury.
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