What is Epilepsy? Epilepsy Treatment in India

Have you seen somebody having fits? It’s scary to watch someone having fits; you might see them suffering from serious involuntary movements like jerking, thrashing and unaware of what they are doing. Fits, in the medical language, is called epilepsy.

Epilepsy- Seizing the nervous system

Epilepsy is a brain disorder where the brain cells send abnormal electric signals due to miscommunication between the nerve cells. Epilepsy is a term used when you have multiple seizures.

What is a seizure?

A seizure is a condition where a person suffers from sudden unconsciousness and severe involuntary movements, a condition also known as fits. Having a seizure doesn’t necessarily mean that you have epilepsy.

A seizure can be triggered under certain life-threatening situations like extreme dehydration or very high temperature but when someone is suffering from unexplained repeated seizures, then he is said to be suffering from epilepsy.

Causes of Epilepsy

There are many possible causes that affect the way signals are transmitted through the nerves. Few of them are-

  • Any disturbance in the normal neuron activity, like severe illness, brain damage, abnormal development of brain
  • Abnormal nerve connections
  • Imbalance in the nerve signaling chemical called neurotransmitter
  • Stroke
  • Infection in the brain like meningitis
  • Severe blow on the head
  • Lead or alcohol poisoning
  • Birth defects such as infection or illness that affects brain development in the fetus, lack of oxygen to infants brain during childbirth
  • And very rarely due to brain tumor

Symptoms of Epilepsy

Epilepsy symptoms vary from person to person. If the person suffers from the same type of epilepsy every time then the symptoms will remain the same. Below mentioned are a few symptoms of epilepsy.

  • Temporary confusion
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Uncontrollable jerking movements of the arm and leg
  • Psychic symptoms

Pregnancy and Epilepsy

It is said that almost about 90% of women with epilepsy have a normal and healthy infant. However, the risks associated with epilepsy cannot be ignored. Uncontrolled sudden seizures and anti-epileptic medications can affect the unborn infant. Epileptic women have a higher risk of reproductive hormonal disease, irregular menstrual cycle, and polycystic ovaries. The risk of seizures in the newborn, increases, if the woman has epilepsy. It is also found that late spontaneous abortion is common in women with epilepsy. Consult with your doctor before starting any medicines for epilepsy.

Seize life!

People with epilepsy live a normal healthy life and they can take part in all activities like a normal person but extra care is of course required. It is advised that your near and dear ones know about your condition and also know how to react when you are actually having a seizure. A complete understanding of the condition may help you to take charge of your life.

There are no conclusive tests for epilepsy. Diagnosis is done based on expert knowledge, patient’s experience or witness’s explanation of seizure along with few test results such as

  • Detailed medical history: Your physician might enquire about your previous medical history, duration and symptoms observed during previous seizures
  • Electroencephalogram (EEG), which detects the brain wave pattern, can help in detecting the electrical activity
  • Scanning the brain using computer tomography (CT), Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) helps in identifying any abnormality in the structure of the brain. Another brain scanning technique called positron emission tomography (PET) is used to detect any functional abnormality of the brain
  • Blood test may be done in children to detect metabolic or genetic disease associated with seizure

Once diagnosed with epilepsy, it is better to start treatment right away. Epilepsy cannot be cured but can be controlled.

If you find someone around you having an epileptic attack it is very important that you know a few do’s and don’ts that should be followed as a first-aid.

Here’s how you can help them.

  • It’s very important that you stay calm.
  • Cushion the person’s head and roll the person to his/her side to avoid choking of fluid or vomit.
  • Push away all harmful objects.
  • You may aid in breathing by loosening the shirt or tie.
  • Note down the duration and symptoms during the epileptic seizure so that you can inform the doctor.
  • It is better to call someone for immediate help.
  • After the seizure is overwatch for signs of confusion and allow him to rest or sleep.
  • Give them something to eat or drink, only after they have fully recovered. Stay with the person until he is fully recovered.

There are certain things that you should not do when a person is having seizures. Do not force to move him as it could harm him. Do not feed or put anything into his mouth as there are chances that the person would choke. Do not restrict their movement and do not try to wake them by shaking or shouting.

Treatment of epilepsy includes medication, surgery, device insertion, and diet. Taking proper anti-epileptic medications control seizures in about 70% of people. If medications do not prove effective then your doctor might suggest surgery.

Epilepsy surgery is done only if the exact sight of seizure is defined and that particular area of the brain does not interfere with essential functions like speech, language or hearing. Another treatment called vagus nerve stimulation involves the insertion of a small device under the chest skin that delivers an electrical pulse to the brain and avoids abnormal electrical signals.

In children, epilepsy treatment mainly involves a doctor-supervised high fat and low carbohydrate diet called a ketogenic diet. This diet tends to have an antiepileptic effect. The treatment that best suits your condition will be recommended by your physician. This the best treatment given for epilepsy in children.

After being diagnosed with epilepsy you can effectively control your seizure by following few simple ways to deal with the situation.

Take your medications every day even if you are not having a seizure as this may help to control seizures. If you forget your dose take it immediately when you remember or consult your doctor in case you have missed the dose for 24 hours or more. Never take any extra antiepileptic medicine without consulting your doctor if you think you are going to have a seizure. The decision of stopping or continuing the medicine should completely be taken by your doctor depending on your condition. Many drugs taken for other health purposes may interfere with epilepsy drugs therefore discuss with your doctor before taking any such medicines.

Avoid consuming alcohol as it may interfere with epilepsy drugs and may trigger a seizure. While going for a swim or outing or work or to school make sure that you are around people, and inform them about your condition, and ways to deal with it if you are having a seizure.

FAQ- Epilepsy

A seizure is a condition where a person suffers from sudden unconsciousness and severe involuntary movements. A seizure can be triggered under certain life-threatening situations like extreme dehydration or very high temperature but when someone is suffering from unexplained repeated seizures, then he is said to be suffering from epilepsy.

A few common signs & symptoms are:- Temporary confusion, Loss of consciousness, Uncontrollable jerking movements of the arm and leg, Psychic symptoms