International epilepsy awareness day
Epilepsy is a neurological condition that occurs due to disturbed nerve cell activity. Epilepsy is usually seen in childhood and old age but can occur at any age.
What are the causes of epilepsy?
70% of cases have no underlying cause.
25-30% are secondary to stroke, head injury, or infection of the brain.
Other causes are electrolyte imbalance (low sodium), low blood sugar level, alcohol, and cocaine.
What are the symptoms of epilepsy?
· Loss of awareness (you may not remember the events during an epileptic attack)
· Loss of consciousness
· Unusual sensation like tingling or numbness
· Uncontrolled body movements
· Biting the tongue
What are the types of seizures?
1. Partial seizures
2. Generalized seizures
How does your doctor diagnose epilepsy?
Your doctor will ask the details about the epileptic attack, including the symptoms, duration, and frequency. The doctor may evaluate and advise the following tests.
· MRI brain
· Blood tests
What is the treatment of epilepsy?
Antiepileptic drugs are the primary treatment modality of epilepsy. Duration of treatment may vary from 2-10 years or longer.
You must take the drug regularly; if not, epilepsy may become refractory.
If the seizure is under control, it doesn't mean you can stop the drugs. Attacks may recur if you block the drugs.
60-70% of individuals with epilepsy do not require life-long treatment.
What are the other modalities of epilepsy treatment?
· Antiepileptic drugs are the first line of treatment.
· If the seizure doesn't respond to drugs, surgery, or implants in the brain is considered.'
What are the precautions you need to take if you have epilepsy?
· Do not skip your antiepileptic drugs as they may have serious consequences. The frequency of the attack may increase, and it may become difficult to treat your epilepsy.
· Make sure that you have enough sleep, as lack of sleep may trigger epilepsy.
· Your doctor may ask you to stop driving or swimming during your treatment.
· It is always better to have a companion while you go outdoors.
· Let your friends and colleagues know about your illness, as they can tackle the situation better while you have an attack.
· Keep your home clutter-free with minimalistic furniture; fall-proofing the home may reduce the chances of getting injured during the attack.
· Avoid watching television or video games for a long time as the bright light may trigger an epileptic attack.
What are the myths about epilepsy?
1. Epilepsy is a supernatural process or caused by 'evil spirits.'
Epilepsy is a long-standing brain disorder that can be treated effectively by a doctor.
2. People with epilepsy cannot lead a normal life
With timely treatment and regular follow-ups with your physician, you can lead a productive life.
3. People with seizure cannot get married and have children.
People with seizures can get married and have children. Your doctor may titrate or change the drugs during the pregnancy.
4. Epilepsy is an infectious disease; it can spread.
Epilepsy is a neurological disease, and it doesn't spread.
Key take away points.
· Epilepsy is a neurological disorder.
· It is a treatable medical condition.
· Do not skip medications and follow your doctors' advice.
· Fall-proof your home to avoid injuries.
· People with epilepsy can lead a productive life.