Epilepsy is a condition which is most commonly related to imbalances between the inhibitory neurotransmitters in our brain and the neurotransmitters in charge of electric impulses. When the two are not balanced, the signals sent from one hemisphere of the brain to another become dysfunctional, leading to seizures and all other complication which are commonly related to this condition.
The seizures, being the main characteristic of epilepsy, can be further divided into two categories, generalized and partial (focal). Usually, during the diagnosis of this condition, the health experts try to classify the type of seizure as precisely as possible.
What are Epileptic Seizures?
First and foremost, general epileptic seizures stem from electric impulses being produced throughout the brain. On the other hand, focal seizures affect a smaller portion of this organ. Either way, the part of the brain which produces the information related to seizures is medically referred to as thefocus.
Since, as it was mentioned above, there are numerous different types of seizures, the following lines will give a more detailed classification anddescription.
When the entire brain is involved in seizures, making them generalized ones, the patient is unconscious and his/her muscles become rigid. This type of seizures is called the clonic tonic seizure and can involve the appearance of convulsionstoo.
Also, a generalized seizure can result in absence, where the sufferers experience a short-term loss of consciousness and succumb to sporadic, jerking movements. The “clonic” from the name of this type of seizures stands for repetitive jerking movements while the “tonic” is related to the muscular stiffness and rigidity. Epileptic seizures can also lead to a loss of muscle tone.
Basically, there are six different types of generalized epileptic seizures and the one during which a patient loses his/her consciousness and starts undergoing convulsions after collapsing to the ground is the most common one.
The loss of consciousness gets followed by the state of muscular stiffness which lasts from 30 to 60 seconds and the violent jerking movements appear afterwards, lasting for the same amount of time.
After the seizure has done its course, the epileptic enters a stage of deep sleep and usually wakes up without remembering the whole mishap.
During the absence type of seizures, the victim is known to stop all of his/her current activities and enter a silent, still stage which lasts for only a couple of seconds. During this time, the patient experiences a short loss of consciousness, staring blankly. He/she is not aware of this condition and only notices that the time went by without he/she realizing it.
Partial seizures, on the other hand, can be divided into simple and complex ones, as well as those which are related to secondary generalized seizures. If the seizures of this type are simple, the victim manages to stay conscious while, if the seizures are complex, they fail to do so.
During simple partial seizures, the patients may experience stiffening, loss of motor functions or even the appearance of jerking movements. Sometimes, their senses can be affected and they might have hallucinations or perceive auras, affecting their smell, taste, vision, touch or hearing.
Some other symptoms of partial epileptic attacks may involve physical symptoms as well, manifesting through racing heartbeat, upset stomach, loss of bladder control or diarrhea. Even memory loss or mixed feelings and attitudes can appear during these seizures.
Therefore, the patients may perceive these forms of seizures as something other than epilepsy, fearing that they have lost their mind. Due to this factor, numerous suffering individuals refuse to seek help timely.
Surgery for Epilepsy
Surgery is a treatment option for some patients suffering from epilepsy. When successful, it can reduce the effects of seizures or even remove them completely.
Therefore, surgery is done in order to prevent some of the most common outcomes of epileptic seizures such as broken bones due to falling, drowning if the seizure happens while the patient is in water, brain damage from long-term exposure to seizures or even sudden death, a condition which can also be attributed to epilepsy, even though the occurrence of it is rare.
The surgery itself may take many forms, involving removal of a single portion of the brain or making incisions in order to disconnect specific parts of the brain. Alternatively, the goal of the surgery may be connecting the dysfunctional bonds between the two hemispheres, which is a common procedure done on epileptic children.
Finally, the most radical procedure of all requires a total removal of a single hemisphere, again most commonly done on children who experience epilepsy only in one half of their brain.
All in all, there are many types of epilepsy and many forms of treatment designed for treating this condition by helping the affected person control and avoid seizures. Epilepsy should not be ignored. Rather, it should be treated timely and properly through adequate medical support.