Epilepsy is a neurological disorder that leads to repeated episodes of seizures. The condition most commonly starts in childhood. However, people of all ages may be affected.
Brain cells normally communicate by sending and receiving electrical impulses. In case of epilepsy there is excess of such electrical activity. Certain parts of the brain produce abnormal electrical impulses which cause excessive stimulation and initiate seizures. The severity of seizures generally depends of many factors. This is why some patients may experience a so called absent seizures while others suffer from actual convulsions associated with muscle contraction and uncontrollable shaking of the body.
What are Types of Epilepsy?
Epilepsy can be divided into symptomatic epilepsy, cryptogenic epilepsy and idiopathic epilepsy.
Symptomatic epilepsy develops as a consequence of clear damage to the brain tissue. Cryptogenic epilepsy is characterized by symptoms of the disease but there is no noticeable damage to the brain. Finally, idiopathic epilepsy is a condition of undetectable origin.
Epilepsy: Treatment Options
The very treatment for epilepsy depends on the underlying cause of the disease. For instance, epilepsy caused by brain tumors, abnormal blood vessels, bleeding in the brain etc. may be treated surgically. In such case the underlying cause can be successfully eliminated and seizures may completely cease.
Still, most patients require drugs called anticonvulsants. Anticonvulsants are administered during the epileptic attack and some of them are taken for a long period of time in order to prevent future attacks. The dose of such drugs may changes and they are initially administered in large doses while once the condition is brought under control the dose is reduced. Sometimes, when epileptic attacks are absent for a long period of time antiepileptic drugs may be discontinued.
Once prescribed with some antiepileptics, patients must stick to doctor's orders and take medications on time. Missing a dose or discontinuation of the drug prior consulting a doctor may be associated with the onset of epileptic attacks.
It is essential to mention that some antiepileptics may cause birth defects. This is why women who are planning to conceive and are taking antiepileptics on regular basis should first consult their doctors and then plan their pregnancy.
Unfortunately, some individuals face with so called medically refractory epilepsy. This type of epilepsy actually does not respond to 2 or even 3 anti-seizure drugs that have been administered.
Apart from medications some patients may also undergo surgery. One surgical procedure for people suffering from epilepsy is placement of a vagus nerve stimulator (VNS).
Finally, additional help is obtained from lifestyle changes such a dietary changes and elimination of all potential triggers of the attack such as emotional stress, lack of sleep, infections, alcohol consumption etc.