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Epilepsy, Types, Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Have you ever witnessed those sad, frightening moments where someone suddenly begins to vibrate or shake vehemently, a state of total blackout, memory loss, confusion, tremors, jerking or meaningless movements of body parts, gnashing of teeth, and meaningless sounds. And all you can do is to push sharp objects aside and make enough space for them to suffer the disease. 

Either as a witness or by experience, epilepsy is one of the most disgusting diseases ever known.

It's described as a sudden and uncontrolled discharge of electrical signals in the  brain, epilepsy as a nervous disorder,  and has no known cause. Some findings will tell you it's caused by head injury, stroke, AIDS, or heredity.

Epilepsy has no racial, social, or religious bias. This occurs in children, adults, and in both men and women. 

Types of epilepsy

We have two types of epileptic seizures, they include 

Focal seizures

It is also called simple partial seizures. As the name implies, this type of epilepsy may not involve the loss of consciousness or memory.

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Seizures of this kind may be stimulated by a sense of smell or noise from the environment. Focal Seizures may also be complex with symptoms like redundancy in motion, loss of memory, and unconsciousness. 

Generalised seizures

Generalised seizures can be subdivided into several other types, each type is characterised by different symptoms and stimuli that results in such epilepsy. They include:

Absence seizures: This subtype of generalised seizures is sometimes called “petit mal seizures.” 

Symptoms include short loss of awareness, a blank stare, and may cause repetitive movements such as blinking.

Tonic seizures: Tonic seizures cause sudden stiffness in the muscles in your legs, arms, or trunk.

Atonic seizures: Atonic seizures lead to loss of muscle control. They’re also called “drop seizures” because a sudden loss of muscle strength can make you fall suddenly.

Clonic seizures: Clonic seizures are characterised by repeated, jerky muscle movements of the face, neck, and arms.

Myoclonic seizures: Myoclonic seizures cause spontaneous quick twitching of the arms and legs. Sometimes these seizures cluster together.

Tonic-clonic seizures: Tonic-clonic seizures are sometimes called “grand mal seizures” symptoms of this form of seizures include:

  • Stiffening of the body
  • The victim might be shaking vehemently 
  • There is loss of bladder or bowel control
  • Biting of the tongue
  • Loss of memory or consciousness 

Following a seizure, you may not remember having one, or you might feel slightly ill for a few hours.

Frequently asked questions about epilepsy?

What causes epilepsy? 

Epileptic shock or seizures have no direct cause. However there are some activities that may trigger its occurrence e.g when you have an injury that affects your brain, brain cancer, stroke, or lack of oxygen. Other disorders like Alzheimer's disease may also trigger epilepsy. 

Some researchers also suggest that epilepsy is hereditary.  Studies show that people with cases of Dravet Syndrome (a chronic form of epilepsy characterised by frequent, prolonged seizures which often occur when you have a high body temperature (hyperthermia), speech difficulty, sleep disturbances, and other health issues)have certain abnormalities in their gene structure. 

You will not develop epilepsy if your parents have a history of epilepsy caused by external factors like head injury or oxygen deficiency. Sometimes people with this disorder have brain damage during uncontrolled seizures. 

How is epilepsy diagnosed? 

Diagnosis of epilepsy may be by self examination and tests, in some types of epilepsy, you will  be aware seizures may begin soon. e.g simple partial seizures. 

Your doctor will ask you if you have any infections, diseases like liver problems or haematological problems. 

The best way to diagnose epilepsy is by electroencephalography. The doctor will connect two charged electrodes on your head and other parts of your body. 

By this means the electrical activities of your brain can be read and interpreted by a neurologist. 

What are the risk factors of epilepsy?

During seizures, the victims may get themselves injured  by objects nearby or machines they work with. This disorder seems embarrassing and may result in depression.

Epilepsy affects the brain and can result in difficulty in learning, this is true in 20% of the patients living with the disorder. 

How is epilepsy treated?

There are different ways to treat seizures, your doctor may prescribe anti-epileptic drugs that will either reduce your number of seizures or eliminate them. Anti-epileptic drugs may have side effects or complications.

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Surgical operations may also be done to remove the area of the brain affected by a seizure. 

Some patients may prefer the use of a vagus nerve stimulator that calms your brain's electrical wave discharge when seizures begin to occur.

In situations where drugs may not work for you, a diet of low carbohydrates and high fat (ketogenic diets) is considered a useful alternative. 

What  do I do when someone has seizures?

Seizures occur from time to time irrespective of where the patient is.  As a witness to such disorder. Ensure to follow the remedies we have listed below.

  • Immediately someone has seizures, talking to them or demonstrating in front of them becomes useless, especially when there's loss of control and focus.
  • Keep the patient in a well ventilated and less crowded area.
  • Seizures are accompanied by  muscle stiffness and jerking. Remove any nearby objects that may injure the victim 
  • Do not try to stop their movements.
  • Do not put anything into the victims mouth so as to avoid them damaging their teeth. 
  • Give them some time, the shaking movements,  muscles rigidity,  jerking,  and silence gazing reduces with time and the victims become well again. 
  • Once the victim is calm, he/she becomes conscious of their environment and may respond to questions or instructions. Drugs can be administered at this stage. 
  • You can also call or take the victim to any nearby emergency health centre 

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