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Brain disease: Epilepsy as a dynamic disease

Seizures In The Brain

Epilepsy is a neurological disorder that is characterized by seizures when the nerve cells in the brain fire signals quicker than normal convulsions occur. Signals that are sent from the brain stimulate the muscles to move, for instance. When the brain cells are overactive and firing out of control the muscles keep contracting uncontrollably or stop moving at all. One of the effects of a seizure is passing out from too much brain cell activity. The frequency with which seizures affect individuals depends on various factors, as they may be experienced fairly often or relatively rarely. In addition, the majority of people who are prone to seizures do not experience any warning signs while some persons have an upset stomach, or an unusual taste in their mouths. Being exposed to too much bright light or not getting enough sleep are a few of the risk factors that make a seizure more likely to occur. Aside from fainting, an individual experiencing an intense seizure may lose bowel or bladder control, vomit, shake, or stiffen, but in most cases seizures do not cause any pain. A milder form of a convulsion usually produces involuntary jerking movements and fatigue. When it comes to the prevalence of epilepsy, around 2 million Americans are affected by the disorder. In many instances the first seizure is experienced before the age of 15 while in other cases seniors over 65 can also develop epilepsy for the first time. The causes of epilepsy remain unclear. Experts agree it is not a communal disorder while it does have a genetic component. Those who have a family history of epilepsy are more likely to be predisposed to seizures than the general public.

Types and Causes of Epilepsy

Most experts agree that there are three distinct types of epilepsy, such as idiopathic, cryptogenic, and symptomatic epilepsy. The idiopathic epilepsy is characterized by periodic seizures but the root cause of the disorder cannot be identified. The cryptogenic epilepsy is also manifested by recurring seizures. The related symptoms, such as a learning disability, suggest that the seizures are possibly due to brain damage but there is no evidence of the injury occurring nor are the health care professionals able to detect it. Finally, the seizures of the symptomatic epilepsy are caused by a concrete brain disruption or damage. When it comes to origins of different types of epilepsy they are usually relatively similar. As already mentioned, despite thorough investigations when medical professionals are unable to find a cause for epileptic seizures such a condition is termed idiopathic. In many such instances researchers will turn to gene testing and investigating, as certain gene anomalies can affect electrical transmission in the brain. Despite numerous research and clinical studies being carried out no particular genes have been identified as the causes of epilepsy nor are there any links between genes and epileptic seizures found so far. In terms of the causes of cryptogenic epilepsy, clinicians are again incapable of locating a source although many other signs point to head trauma. When there is a known cause for epilepsy, such as a disturbance in brain wave activity, such cases of epilepsy are termed symptomatic. As there are countless brain cells, impulses and chemicals involved in the functioning of the brain there is an array of possible interferences which could lead to seizures.

Diagnosis and Treatment for Epilepsy

Assessment of an individual who is experiencing seizures includes image scanning, such as a CAT scan, an EEG, or an MRI. The EEG records brain waves while the CAT scan and the MRI provide a clear image of the head. Image scanning tests produce little to no sensation and are used on anyone who is not pregnant, and does not have any metal implants in the body. Blood tests are also performed to confirm a diagnosis. Some of these tests might reveal a cause of seizures, such as a swelling in the brain due to head trauma, or they may be used to assess how well an individual is responding to medications. It should be noted that if a person has one seizure this does not mean that they have epilepsy. Furthermore, many individuals do not have recurring seizures after their first convulsion. Repeated seizures are most often controlled with medications although in some instances special diet or even surgery is necessary. Those who have had their first epileptic experiences as children are likely to stop having seizures as they age. Further, it is highly recommended that individuals with epilepsy do not go swimming alone or go to high places that are unattended. Individuals suffering from epilepsy should not engage in certain sports and activities such as boxing or scuba diving. There are some epileptic individuals who feel stigmatized and discriminated against so numerous kinds of support groups are available nation wide. Other than minor restrictions, persons with epilepsy lead normal lives.

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