Know the basics
What is epilepsy?
Epilepsy is a chronic disorder, the hallmark of which is recurrent, unprovoked seizures. Seizure symptoms can be various and many patients have more than one type of seizure and may have other symptoms of neurological problems as well.
It can be managed by reducing your risk factors. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.
Know the symptoms
What are the symptoms of epilepsy?
Seizure signs and symptoms may include:
- Temporary confusion;
- A staring spell;
- Uncontrollable jerking movements of the arms and legs;
- Loss of consciousness or awareness;
- Psychic symptoms.
There may be some symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.
Suffering a seizure at certain times can lead to circumstances that are dangerous to yourself or others, such as:
- Car accidents;
- Pregnancy complications;
- Mental health issues.
When should I see my doctor?
You should seek immediate medical help if any of the following occurs:
- The seizure lasts more than five minutes.
- Breathing or consciousness does not return after the seizure stops.
- A second seizure follows immediately.
- You have a high fever.
- You are experiencing heat exhaustion.
- You are pregnant.
- You have diabetes.
- You have injured yourself during the seizure.
If you have any signs or symptoms listed above or have any questions, please consult with your doctor. Everyone’s body acts differently. It is always best to discuss with your doctor what is best for your situation.
Know the causes
What are the causes of epilepsy?
Statistics show that over half of epilepsy cases, a cause cannot be found. In case of an identifiable cause, it usually involves the brain being affected by various factors.
- Genetic influence;
- Head trauma;
- Brain conditions;
- Infectious diseases;
- Prenatal injury;
- Developmental disorders.
Know the risk factors
What increases my risk for epilepsy?
Certain factors may increase your risk of epilepsy:
- Family history;
- Head injuries;
- Stroke and other vascular diseases;
- Brain infections;
- Seizures in childhood.
Understand the diagnosis & treatment
The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.
How is epilepsy diagnosed?
Along with reviewing your symptoms and medical history, to diagnose your condition, your doctor may conduct several tests, such as:
- Neurological examination;
- Blood tests;
- Electroencephalogram (EEG);
- Computerized tomography (CT) scan;
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI);
- Functional MRI (fMRI);
- Positron emission tomography (PET);
- Single-photon emission computerized tomography (SPECT).
How is epilepsy treated?
Treatment for epilepsy is used to control seizures, although not everyone with the condition will need to be treated.
Many drugs are available to treat epilepsy. The choice of drug is most often based on factors like the patient’s tolerance of side effects, other illnesses he or she might have, and the medication’s delivery method.
Although the different types of epilepsy vary greatly, in general, medications can control seizures in about 70% of patients.
However, there are some side effects of epilepsy drugs, include:
- A lack of energy;
- Uncontrollable shaking (tremor);
- Hair loss or unwanted hair growth;
- Swollen gums;
Surgery is most commonly done when tests show that your seizures originate in a small, well-defined area of your brain that does not interfere with vital functions such as speech, language, motor function, vision or hearing. In surgery, your doctor removes the area of your brain that is causing the seizures.
But if your seizures originate in a part of your brain that cannot be removed, your doctor may recommend a different type of surgery in which surgeons make several cuts in your brain. These cuts are designed to prevent seizures from spreading to other parts of your brain.
Although many people continue to need some medication to help prevent seizures after successful surgery, you may be able to take fewer drugs and reduce your dosages.
In a small number of cases, surgery for epilepsy can cause complications such as permanently altering your thinking (cognitive) abilities.
Lifestyle changes & Home remedies
What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage epilepsy?
Although epilepsy can affect people in various ways with different experience, there are some tips that can help.
- Recognize your triggers: the more you know about the things that trigger your seizures and how to avoid them, the better you can manage your behavior.
- Take your medication: anti-epilepsy medication controls seizures in around 70% of people. You are recommended to follow exactly the prescription of your doctor as this is probably the most effective way to live well with epilepsy.
- Monitor the treatment regularly: you will have regular reviews of your epilepsy and treatment. These reviews should be carried out at least annually, although you may need more frequent reviews if your epilepsy is not well controlled.
- Take care of yourself: you should find out and stick on what you need to do every day to stay fit and maintain good physical and mental health, prevent illness or accidents and care more effectively for minor ailments and long-term conditions.
If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.
Epilepsy Health Center. http://www.webmd.com/epilepsy/. Accessed September 4, 2016.
Epilepsy. http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Epilepsy/Pages/Introduction.aspx. Accessed September 4, 2016.
Epilepsy. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/epilepsy/home/ovc-20117206. Accessed September 4, 2016.
What Is Epilepsy? http://www.epilepsy.com/learn/epilepsy-101/what-epilepsy. Accessed September 4, 2016.
Review Date: January 4, 2017 | Last Modified: January 4, 2017