SEIZURES AND EPILEPSY
Epilepsy is a disorder of the brain characterized by repeated seizures. A seizure is usually defined as a sudden alteration of behavior due to a temporary change in the electrical functioning of the brain. Normally, the brain continuously generates tiny electrical impulses in an orderly pattern. These impulses travel along neurons — the network of nerve cells in the brain — and throughout the whole body via chemical messengers called neurotransmitters.
In epilepsy the brain’s electrical rhythms have a tendency to become imbalanced, resulting in recurrent seizures. In patients with seizures, the normal electrical pattern is disrupted by sudden and synchronized bursts of electrical energy that may briefly affect their consciousness, movements or sensations.
Epilepsy is usually diagnosed after a person has had at least two seizures that were not caused by some known medical condition, such as alcohol withdrawal or extremely low blood sugar.
If seizures arise from a specific area of the brain, then the initial symptoms of the seizure often reflect the functions of that area. The right half of the brain controls the left side of the body, and the left half of the brain controls the right side of the body. For example, if a seizure starts from the right side of the brain in the area that controls movement in the thumb, then the seizure may begin with jerking of the left thumb or hand.
Seizures vary so much that epilepsy specialists frequently re-classify seizure types. Typically, seizures belong in one of two basic categories: primary generalized seizures and partial seizures. The difference between these types is in how they begin. Primary generalized seizures begin with a widespread electrical discharge that involves both sides of the brain at once. Partial seizures begin with an electrical discharge in one limited area of the brain.
Epilepsy in which the seizures begin from both sides of the brain at the same time is called primary generalized epilepsy. Hereditary factors are important in partial generalized epilepsy, which is more likely to involve genetic factors than partial epilepsy — a condition in which the seizures arise from a limited area of the brain.
Some partial seizures are related to head injury, brain infection, stroke or tumor but, in most cases, the cause is unknown. One question that is used to further classify partial seizures is whether consciousness (the ability to respond and remember) is impaired or preserved. The difference may seem obvious, but there are many degrees of consciousness impairment or preservation.
Sleep deprivation or fatigue.
Insufficient food intake.
Alcohol use or drug abuse.
Failure to take prescribed anticonvulsant medications.
About half of the people who have one seizure without a clear cause will have another one, usually within six months. A person is twice as likely to have another seizure if there is a known brain injury or other type of brain abnormality. If the patients does have two seizures, there is about an 80 percent chance of having more. If the first seizure occurred at the time of an injury or infection in the brain, it is more likely the patient will develop epilepsy than if the seizure did not happen at the time of injury or infection.
Seizures symptoms vary and can include a sudden change in awareness or full loss of consciousness, unusual sensations or thoughts, involuntary twitching or stiffness in the body or severe stiffening and limb shaking with loss of consciousness (a convulsion.)
There are two major classes or groups of seizures: focal onset and generalized onset.
Focal onset seizures start in one area and can spread across the brain and cause mild or severe symptoms, depending on how the electrical discharges spread.
Generalized seizures can start as focal seizures that spread to both sides of the brain. They also can occur as “generalized onset” seizures in which seizure activity starts simultaneously over both sides of the brain. Generalized onset seizures usually start during childhood and are similar to a thermostat surge or a light flash — abnormal regulation between parts of the brain causes the seizures.
Seizures of all kinds are most commonly treated with medication, and, if they are difficult to control, with diet therapy, nerve stimulation or surgery.
“Take care of yourselves” – Antoine and Kevin 😉