Epilepsy is a neurological condition that affects the brain. The dominant and the well-known feature of the condition is a seizure. This condition is fairly common and affects a small percentage of the population with most cases diagnosed during childhood or adolescence. Even though many suffer a seizure at some point in their lives, this will not lead to a diagnosis of epilepsy.
The diagnosis depends on the occurrence of two or more seizures as well as the results of an EEG. In some cases, an MRI will be used so that images of the brain can be seen as well as blood tests in order to rule out other medical issues.
Causes of epilepsy
The seizures occur due to the abnormal electrical discharge inside the brain. Even though this is clear, the cause in one individual is not known. In some circumstances, it might be due to anatomical or genetic abnormalities or even after a stroke, surgery or head injury.
What happens during a seizure?
Most of the epileptic seizures are called as tonic-clonic seizures. These include a phase of stiffening of the muscles and followed by twitching of muscles and involuntary motions. The person may or might not lose consciousness throughout the seizure. Take note that most seizures tend to last not more than 30 seconds.
Afterwards, it is quite common for the individual to end up confused, dreary and experience a headache.
What should you do?
Watching an individual experiencing a seizure can be a frightening experience, particularly for children. It is vital to remember that seizures are rarely life-threatening and the individual should not feel pain or even remember it.
The vital thing to do if a seizure is occurring is to protect the individual from injury and to observe the individual so that you can provide a clear description of what occurred in case asked by the doctor. To learn to recognize and manage a seizure attack, sign up for a first aid and CPR class today.
When a seizure occurs, spontaneous muscle contractions and twitching can also occur. In some circumstances, this can be quite severe. Always ensure that the individual is safe during a seizure. This can be done by placing a blanket or pillow beneath the head and removing any hard objects in the immediate area.
Once the seizure stops, the individual will start to breathe normally again and the consciousness will steadily return, but he/she will feel very sleepy. It is not usually required to call for emergency assistance, especially if seizures are frequent. Those who are diagnosed with epilepsy usually have an identity card or an ID bracelet. Emergency assistance is required for the following:
- The individual experienced his/her first seizure.
- Seizure lasts for 5 minutes or more.
- A second seizure occurs where the individual did not regain consciousness in between.
- The individual was injured during the seizure.
Treatment of epilepsy
The management of epilepsy typically involves a combination of lifestyle changes and medications. There are also certain factors that can increase the risk of seizures among epileptics, but what affects one individual will not affect the other. The usual triggers include the following:
- Sleep deprivation
- Skipping meals
- Flashing lights
Anti-epileptic drugs are used in most cases of epilepsy. These medications work by minimizing the excitability of the brain. They are generally effective and there are various types available.