Epilepsy

Epilepsy is an ailment wherein the activities in the brain are disturbed, resulting to changes in behavior, convulsions, and seizures. Epilepsy is an everyday struggle for millions of families as it requires continual care. It affects 2.7 million people in the U.S. and 50 million worldwide, half of the patients of which are children. Patients have problems with learning, behavior and memory due to its medications and side effects. According to Director Dr. Orrin Devinsky of New York University’s Epilepsy Center, the illness has an embarrassment level wherein people believe it carries a stigma worse than cancer or HIV, and that society has to wake up that it is just a neurologic disorder.

Epilepsy Symptoms

Epilepsy has various symptoms from simple stares to violent convulsions and unconsciousness. Most patients experience seizures similar to the previous ones. Before seizures occur, patients may experience tingling, emotional changes and smelling of a non-existent odor.

Seizures can be absence or petit mal, which is common in children but outgrown when they become teens, is brief and usually does not cause physical injury; generalized tonic-clonic or grand mal which is what people see as seizures; and partial or focal wherein patients experience consciousness change and become unaware of their surroundings. Generally, signs and symptoms are:

  • Sudden stop of motion or attention lapse for 10-15 seconds
  • Fluttering eyelid, chewing motion, lip smacking, finger rubbing and small hand movements
  • Sudden unreasonable feeling of joy, fear or rage
  • Repeating a word or phrase
  • Groaning due to the air’s forced entry to the vocal cords
  • Unconsciousness and falling to the ground, with bloody saliva coming as the patient may bite his tongue and face becomes blue
  • Loss of bowel and bladder control
  • Patient feels drowsy, confused, disoriented, depressed or agitated after the seizure

Epilepsy Causes

A licensed medical professional can diagnose edema using a combination of visual and physical assessment. Visible swelling and obscured articulation of the limbs indicates abnormal fluid retention in these areas. Edema may be categorized as “pitting” when a doctor presses firmly on the area and an imprint is left, or “non-pitting” if no indent remains. With long-standing edema, dark red sores may appear.

Edema associated with chronic heart failure, kidney disease, or cirrhosis of the liver may require further diagnostic tests. These include blood tests and urine analysis, as well as chest x-rays and ultrasounds, which help to identify the edema’s underlying cause.

  • Visible swelling of the limbs
  • Abnormal fluid retention
  • Pitting
  • Blood, Urine tests
  • Chest X-Rays
  • Ultrasound

Epilepsy Diagnosis

Epilepsy is diagnosed by the following:

  • MRI Scan
  • Lumbar puncture
  • Spinal tap
  • Electroencephalograph or EEG
  • Blood and other tests

A detailed neurological examination, head CT or MRI scan, lumbar puncture or spinal tap and EEG are used to check the brain function to detect the abnormality of electric activities in the brain. Sometimes, the EEG shows which part of the brain triggers seizures. Blood and other tests may also be taken to rule out causes of seizures. It may include testing of blood chemistry and sugar, CBC, cerebrospinal fluid, infectious ailments, kidney and liver functions.

Epilepsy Treatment

Seizures, even the mild types, need treatment as they put the patient in danger, such as when swimming or driving. Epilepsy treatment includes anti-convulsants, surgery, and diet. The aim is to reduce or eliminate intensity and occurrence of seizures.

  • Medications should be according to a physician’s prescription.
  • Surgery may involve removal of a bleeding or abnormal blood vessel or tumor.
  • Sometimes, patients are placed on special diets that have fewer carbohydrates to prevent seizures, the most common of which is ketogenic in children and Atkins in adults.

It is recommended that epilepsy patients wear medical alert jewelry to prompt treatment if a seizure occurs.