Did you know that an estimated 3.4 million people in American have epilepsy?
Epilepsy is a serious health disorder of the brain that causes those who suffer from it to experience seizures. Although many people suffer from the disorder, not many people fully understand it.
Keep reading to learn more about epilepsy, including what causes seizures and what seizure treatments can be used.
What Is Epilepsy?
Epilepsy is a disorder that causes seizures. There are two types of seizures that are caused by this chronic disorder.
One type of seizure is the generalized seizure, this affects the whole brain. Generalized seizures can cause a person to spasm and have uncontrollable muscle twitches for several seconds or even a few minutes. People who suffer from generalized seizures are also more likely to become confused or lose consciousness.
The other type of seizure is a focal (or partial) seizure. A focal seizure only affects one part of the brain. These can be difficult to recognize and only last a few seconds.
What Causes Seizures?
It is unknown why some people who suffer from epilepsy and seizures. Some possible reasons for epilepsy include serious illness, a very high fever, or a brain injury. There are also possibilities that the disorder is genetic or is a neurological disease.
Other possible causes include:
stroke (this is the leading cause of epilepsy for people over 35)
brain tumor or cyst
a lack of oxygen to the brain
dementia or Alzheimer’s disease
infectious diseases (such as meningitis or AIDS)
maternal drug use, brain malformation, lack of oxygen at birth, or a prenatal injury.
Epilepsy can be diagnosed at any age, however, it’s most commonly diagnosed in young children or older adults. It also occurs more in men than in women. There’s no current cure for epilepsy, however, there are treatments that can help manage symptoms and minimize seizures.
How to Diagnose Seizures
Seizure and epilepsy symptoms differ from person to person. A focal seizure can include symptoms such as changes to the senses (smell, tastes, sight, hearing, or touch), feeling dizzy, or experiencing tingling and twitching of limbs.
There are also complex partial seizures, these involve a loss of consciousness or awareness. Other symptoms to look out for include staring blankly, performing repetitive movements, unresponsiveness.
Whereas generalizes seizures are those that include the whole brain. There are six different types of generalized seizures.
Symptoms to look for in an absence seizure is staring blankly and repetitive movements (such as blinking or lip-smacking). The person might also experience a short loss of awareness.
With tonic seizures, a person will experience muscle stiffness. While the opposite of that is atonic seizures, where a person will experience a loss of muscle control and can suddenly fall over.
There are also clonic seizures, these involve repeated jerky muscle movements of the face, neck, and arms. Myoclonic seizures involve twitching of the arms and legs.
And finally, tonic-clonic seizures symptoms can include loss of consciousness, loss of bladder or bowel control, shaking, stiffening of the body, and biting of the tongue.
If you think that you, or someone you know, have experienced a seizure then you should seek medical help. Your doctor will run a series of tests to find out if you have epilepsy.
How to Treat Seizures: 3 Types of Treatments for Seizures
Although there is no cure for epilepsy, there are ways to manage symptoms and ensure that sufferers are comfortable. Your doctor should be able to discuss with you the possible treatments that are right for your symptoms and type of epilepsy. However, these are three common treatments you can try.
Medication prescribed by your doctor will probably be the first treatment you’ll try. Anti-seizure medication is used to help patients reduce their seizures and go about their lives. Your doctor will be able to prescribe you with the most effective medication for your condition.
It’s possible that your doctor might prescribe more than one type of anti-seizure medication, but they will discuss your options with you when you see him/her. Prescribed medication can take time to get right because everyone with epilepsy experiences a different set of symptoms. This is why it’s important to talk to your doctor if you think the medication isn’t right for you, so they can help you find the medication that is.
If medication doesn’t work for your epilepsy, then your doctor might consider surgery.
The most common type of surgery is resection. This is where surgeons remove the part of the brain where the seizures start. In some cases, surgery can help to stop seizures from happening.
Sometimes the part of the brain that causes the seizures is too big or important to remove. If this is the case, then your doctor might suggest you have a multiple subpial transection. This is where the surgeon makes cuts in the brain to interrupt the nerve pathway; this helps to prevent seizures spreading to other parts of your brain.
In 2018, cannabidiol (CBD) prescription medication was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The medication is called Epidiolex and can treat two rare types of seizures (Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome).
These two conditions affect young babies and children and are thought to be catastrophic forms of epilepsy. Patients with these rare epilepsy conditions experience uncontrollable seizures. These seizures affect the patient’s physical and mental development, their quality of life, and their life expectancy.
It is believed that CBD can help to control seizures by working on a receptor system that other drugs can’t touch. Epidiolex is the only FDA approved CBD medication available at the moment. However, more studies are being conducted to find out the effects of CBD for seizures and those who suffer from epilepsy.
Find the Seizure Treatment That’s Right for You
Epilepsy is a condition that can affect everyone differently. That’s why it’s really important to find the seizure treatment that is right for you. Some people find that medication can help them control their seizures, while others find that it doesn’t help that much. If you want to find a treatment that works for you make sure you speak to your doctor so the two of you can find it together.
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