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What exactly is myoclonus and why does it occur?

Myoclonus is a term that is used to describe involuntary andquick twitching of a muscle or a group of muscles. Sudden muscle contractionsusually cause myoclonic twitches, and while contractions are called positivemyoclonus, relaxations are referred to as negative myoclonus. These jerks aremost commonly present while people sleep, but the fact is that they may alsoindicate some kind of a neurological disorder. Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’sdisease, multiple sclerosis, lupus, serotonin toxicity, as well as some formsof epilepsy are only some of disorders of nervous system that have this symptomin common. Besides this, myoclonus may appear as a response to some infection,injury to the spinal cord or head, brain tumor, chemical poisoning, liver orkidney damage, or even as a side effect of some medications. A very coomon form of myoclonus are hiccups, when the diaphragm is affected. However, theseare all considered to be examples of normal myoclonus and they are not a reasonfor concern.

How to recognize myoclonus epilepsy and can it be treated?

Epilepsy is a disorder of the nervous system in which the abnormalelectrical activity in the brain is responsible for seizures. One form of epilepsyis called myoclonus epilepsy, and this form is associated with involuntarytwitching of the muscles. Some of the symptoms and signs that are present inpeople with this condition are fever, headache, hemorrhagic eye wounds, irregularmuscle twitches, muscle contractions and myoclonic attacks. Dementia may alsobe present, as well as papilledema, which is a swelling of the optic nervebecause of the increased intracranial pressure. In people with epilepsy, myoclonicseizures tend to cause movements that are abnormal, but they are present at thesame time on both sides of the body.

In cases of progressive myoclonus epilepsy, the symptoms arealso related to difficulties in speaking and walking. There are three forms ofthis type of epilepsy identified, and each has different symptoms. Even thoughit is rare, this disease may be fatal. As for the medications that can be used in the treatment ofmyoclonus, they usually include tranquilizers and anticonvulsants, althoughsome cases may require surgery. Even though this condition is rarely lifethreatening, it may cause very severe and debilitating impairments. In thegreatest majority of the cases, this condition cannot be cured, and thepatients have to deal with it for the rest of their life.

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