Epilepsy Signs And Symptoms
The primary symptom of epilepsy is recurrent seizures without a clear trigger. Epilepsy can also cause a person to experience strange sensations, emotions or mood shifts, and changes in motor function and behavior in addition to convulsions, muscle spasms, stiffness, changes in heart rate and breathing, and loss of consciousness. The symptoms and outcomes of each seizure or seizure cluster can range from severe and life-threatening to more benign in nature.
What If Im With Someone Who Has A Seizure
To help someone who’s having a seizure:
- Stay calm.
- Help, but don’t force, the person to lie down on their side, preferably on a flat, comfortable surface.
- Take the person’s glasses or backpack off and loosen any tight clothing near the neck.
- Don’t restrain or hold the person.
- Move objects, especially sharp or hard ones, away from the person.
- Stay with the person or make sure another friend or trusted person stays with them.
- Make sure your friend’s breathing is OK.
- Do not put anything into the person’s mouth during a seizure. They wont swallow their tongue, and forcing the mouth open may cause an injury.
- Talk with the person in a calm, reassuring way after the seizure is over. If you can, tell them what happened before, during, and after the seizure.
Usually, theres no need to call 911 if the person having a seizure is known to have epilepsy. But do call if the person is injured, has breathing problems, looks blue around the mouth, has another medical condition like diabetes, or has a long seizure or multiple seizures.
The Structure Of The Brain
To understand epileptic seizures, its useful to know a little about the structure of the brain.
The largest part of the brain is called the cerebrum, and this is divided into two halves, called hemispheres. Epileptic seizures can start in one hemisphere, or affect both hemispheres from the start. Where a seizure starts is known as the seizure onset.
History And Physical Examination
An eyewitness report of the episode can be very helpful to doctors. An eyewitness can describe exactly what happened, whereas people who have an episode usually cannot. Doctors need to have an accurate description, including the following:
How fast the episode started
Whether it involved abnormal muscle movements , tongue biting, drooling, loss of bladder or bowel control, or muscle stiffening
How long it lasted
How quickly the person recovered
A quick recovery suggests fainting rather than a seizure. Confusion that lasts for many minutes to hours after consciousness is regained suggests a seizure.
Although eyewitnesses may be too frightened during the seizure to remember all details, whatever they can remember can help. If possible, how long a seizure lasts should be timed with a watch or other device. Seizures that last only 1 or 2 minutes can seem to go on forever.
Doctors also need to know what people experienced before the episode: whether they had a premonition or warning that something unusual was about to happen and whether anything, such as certain sounds or flashing lights, seemed to trigger the episode.
Doctors ask people about possible causes of seizures, such as the following:
Which drugs they are taking or have recently stopped
For people who are taking drugs to control seizures, whether they are taking the drugs as directed
Whether they are getting enough sleep
With children, whether they have relatives who also have seizures
What Causes A Seizure In A Child
A seizure can be caused by many things. These can include:
An imbalance of nerve-signaling brain chemicals
Breathing problems or stopping breathing
Loss of bowel or bladder control
Falling suddenly for no apparent reason, especially when associated with loss of consciousness
Not responding to noise or words for brief periods
Appearing confused or in a haze
Nodding head rhythmically, when associated with loss of awareness or consciousness
Periods of rapid eye blinking and staring
During the seizure, your childs lips may become tinted blue and his or her breathing may not be normal. After the seizure, your child may be sleepy or confused.
The symptoms of a seizure may be like those of other health conditions. Make sure your child sees his or her healthcare provider for a diagnosis.
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How Can Surgery Treat Frontal Lobe Seizures
People who have frontal lobe seizures that dont respond to medication may consider epilepsy surgery. During a frontal lobe resection, a surgeon removes the part of your frontal lobe that is causing seizures.
Before surgery, the surgeon makes detailed maps of your brain using imaging scans. They may also surgically implant electrodes to do a specialized EEG from recording inside your brain. All of this information helps your neurologist and surgeon to:
- Target the specific areas of your brain causing seizures.
- Avoid damaging areas of the frontal lobe that control important functions.
Can Seizures Cause Aggression
epilepsydoaggressiveseizurescanepilepsySome of the main causes of epilepsy include:
- Low oxygen during birth.
- Head injuries that occur during birth or from accidents during youth or adulthood.
- Brain tumors.
- Genetic conditions that result in brain injury, such as tuberous sclerosis.
- Infections such as meningitis or encephalitis.
Changes In Piriform Cortex In Epilepsy
Cortical, subcortical neuronal networks play a key role in generation, maintenance, and spread of epileptic activity. The piriform cortex and amygdala generate seizures in response to chemical and electrical stimulation and as an amplifier of epileptic activity when seizures are generated elsewhere. Structural abnormalities were observed in PC in frontal lobe epilepsy.
MR imaging reported that the PC amygdala is extensively damaged in chronic temporal lobe epilepsy patients, particularly in those with hippocampal atrophy. Changes in the PC are responsible for complex partial seizures, i.e., the most common type of seizures in human epilepsy.
What Causes The Epilepsies
The epilepsies have many possible causes, but for up to half of people with epilepsy a cause is not known. In other cases, the epilepsies are clearly linked to genetic factors, developmental brain abnormalities, infection, traumatic brain injury, stroke, brain tumors, or other identifiable problems. Anything that disturbs the normal pattern of neuronal activity from illness to brain damage to abnormal brain development can lead to seizures.
The epilepsies may develop because of an abnormality in brain wiring, an imbalance of nerve signaling in the brain , or some combination of these factors. In some pediatric conditions abnormal brain wiring causes other problems such as intellectual impairment.
In other persons, the brain’s attempts to repair itself after a head injury, stroke, or other problem may inadvertently generate abnormal nerve connections that lead to epilepsy. Brain malformations and abnormalities in brain wiring that occur during brain development also may disturb neuronal activity and lead to epilepsy.
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How Do Seizures Affect Memory
Seizures, especially ones that start in the temporal lobe, can cause a major blow to the hippocampus. The hippocampus is very sensitive to changes in brain activity. If seizures starting here go untreated, the hippocampus starts to harden and shrink. It is as if the librarian has gone on strike. Information may be stored, but in a disorganized way. No one is there to find what you need. You may find what you need after a great deal of searching, or you may not find it at all. Luckily, there is one hippocampus on each side of the brain. So if one is affected by seizures, the other can help pick up the slack.
When To Contact A Medical Professional
- This is the first time a person has a seizure.
- A seizure occurs in someone who is not wearing a medical ID bracelet .
In the case of someone who has had seizures before, call 911 for any of these emergency situations:
- This is a longer seizure than the person normally has, or an unusual number of seizures for the person.
- Repeated seizures over a few minutes.
- Repeated seizures in which consciousness or normal behavior is not regained between them .
- Loss of hair
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What Are The Different Types Of Seizures
The type of seizure depends on which part and how much of the brain is affected and what happens during the seizure. The two broad categories of epileptic seizures are generalized seizures and partial seizures. Within these categories, there are several different types of seizures in children, including:
Generalized seizures. Generalized seizures involve both sides of the brain. There is loss of consciousness and a postictal state after the seizure occurs. Types of generalized seizures include the following:
Atonic . With atonic seizures, there is a sudden loss of muscle tone and the child may fall from a standing position or suddenly drop his/her head. During the seizure, the child is limp and unresponsive.
How Can I Help Research On The Epilepsies
There are many ways that people with epilepsies and their families can help advance research.
The NIH NeuroBioBank is an effort by the National Institutes of Health to coordinate the network of brain banks it supports in the United States. The brain tissue and data is collected, evaluated, stored, and made available to researchers via a network of brain and tissue repositories in standardized way for the study of neurological, psychiatric and developmental disorders, including epilepsy. A listing of participating NIH NeuroBioBank repositories and additional brain banks is available at the NIH NeuroBioBank website.
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How Do You Hope This Research Will Help People With Epilepsy
We have a couple of goals. First, we want to improve treatment for the patients. Agreeing to surgery is a big step for people with epilepsy, and we want to make sure it’s going to be very successful. Identifying the areas of the brain involved in the seizures will help us develop a surgical strategy to target those regions.
The second goal is to learn more about how seizures affect the actual neurons and the cells surrounding them. When we perform the surgery, we remove a sample of brain tissue to examine. We look at the neurons and compare them to regular neurons from other parts of the brain. This has allowed us to ask questions about what’s happening in the fundamental biology of the brain during a seizure. We think seizures may develop from disruptions in metabolism and inflammation.
Changes In Basal Ganglia In Epilepsy
The role of basal ganglia in cognitive functions is well established. Earlier studies hypothesized that basal ganglia functions as a part of a modulatory control system over seizures rather than a propagation pathway. Although no specific epileptic electroencephalography changes were observed in basal ganglia, involvement of basal ganglia in distribution of epileptic activity was reported. Dopamine is reported to involve in the control of seizures related to the type of epilepsy. Sufficiently, sustained seizures cause damage of substantia nigra pars reticulate and globus pallidus. Interestingly, epilepsy has been reported to have inverse relationship with Parkinson’s disease as incidence of seizures is less in patients with Parkinson’s disease. Seizures may lead to progressive microanatomical changes in putamen of both hemispheres. As the SNR plays a major role in the modulation of seizures, the seizures may be treated with high-frequency stimulation of SNR.
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Social And Economic Impacts
Epilepsy accounts for more than 0.5% of the global burden of disease, a time-based measure that combines years of life lost due to premature mortality and time lived in less than full health. Epilepsy has significant economic implications in terms of health-care needs, premature death and lost work productivity.
The economic impact of epilepsy varies significantly depending on the duration and severity of the condition, response to treatment, and the health-care setting. Out-of-pocket costs and productivity losses create substantial burdens on households. An economic study from India estimated that public financing for both first- and second-line therapy and other medical costs alleviates the financial burden from epilepsy and is cost-effective.
Although the social effects vary from country to country, the stigma and discrimination that surround epilepsy worldwide are often more difficult to overcome than the seizures themselves. People living with epilepsy can be targets of prejudice. The stigma of the disease can discourage people from seeking treatment, to avoid becoming identified with the disease.
Stimulation Of The Vagus Nerve
Electrical stimulation of the 10th cranial nerve can reduce the number of focal-onset seizures by more than one half in about 40% of people who have focal-onset seizures. This treatment is used when seizures continue despite use of antiseizure drugs and when surgery is not a possibility.
The vagus nerve is thought to have indirect connections to areas of the brain often involved in causing seizures.
For this procedure, a device that looks like a heart pacemaker Keeping the Beat: Artificial Pacemakers Abnormal heart rhythms are sequences of heartbeats that are irregular, too fast, too slow, or conducted via an abnormal electrical pathway through the heart. Heart disorders are… read more is implanted under the left collarbone and is connected to the vagus nerve in the neck with a wire that runs under the skin. The device causes a small bulge under the skin. The operation is done on an outpatient basis and takes about 1 to 2 hours.
The device is programmed to periodically stimulate the vagus nerve. Also, people are given a magnet, which they can use to stimulate the vagus nerve when they sense that a seizure is about to begin. Vagus nerve stimulation is used in addition to antiseizure drugs.
Side effects of vagal nerve stimulation include hoarseness, cough, and deepening of the voice when the nerve is stimulated.
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What Parts Of The Brain Are Affected By Epilepsy
Also, what parts of the brain are affected by seizures?
The hippocampus and epilepsyLying in the middle of the brain is part of the temporal lobe called the hippocampus. This part of the brain is involved in learning and in forming memories. If the hippocampus is damaged, it can cause epilepsy in some people.
Similarly, what anatomy is involved with epilepsy? Not all seizures are diagnosed as epilepsy. The brain is divided into two halves, left and right, called hemispheres. The right hemisphere controls the left side of the body and left hemisphere controls the right. Each hemisphere has four lobes frontal, parietal, temporal and occipital.
Similarly, you may ask, how is the brain affected by epilepsy?
Because epilepsy is a brain disorder, it can affect many different systems throughout the body. Epilepsy may stem from changes in the brain’s development, wiring, or chemicals. The disease disrupts the activity of brain cells called neurons, which normally transmit messages in the form of electrical impulses.
What do seizures do to the brain?
A seizure is a sudden, uncontrolled electrical disturbance in the brain. It can cause changes in your behavior, movements or feelings, and in levels of consciousness. If you have two or more seizures or a tendency to have recurrent seizures, you have epilepsy. There are many types of seizures, which range in severity.
The different types of generalized seizures are:
Health And Economic Impact Of Epilepsy
Adults with epilepsy report worse physical and mental health and are more likely to report being unable to afford different types of health care than adults without the disorder. In 2016, health care spending for epilepsy was $8.6 billion in direct costs, of which 63.4% was paid by public insurance.
Getting the wrong diagnosis or the wrong treatment can increase a persons risk of later seizures, brain damage, injuries, disability, and early death. More than one-third of people with epilepsy continue to have seizures despite treatment. People with epilepsy often have other chronic conditions that need to be managed, such as depression, heart disease, and asthma.
Although epilepsy is widely recognized by the public, it is poorly understood, even among people who know someone with the disorder. Public misunderstanding and stigma can limit life opportunities for people with epilepsy.
with epilepsy have 4 or more other chronic conditions.
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The Effects Of Epilepsy On The Body
Epilepsy is a condition that causes seizures temporary glitches in the brains electrical activity. These electrical disruptions can cause a range of symptoms. Some people stare off into space, some make jerky movements, while others lose consciousness.
Doctors dont know what causes epilepsy. Genes, brain conditions like tumors or strokes, and head injuries may be involved in some cases. Because epilepsy is a brain disorder, it can affect many different systems throughout the body.
Epilepsy may stem from changes in the brains development, wiring, or chemicals. Doctors dont know exactly what causes it, but it can start after an illness or damage to the brain. The disease disrupts the activity of brain cells called neurons, which normally transmit messages in the form of electrical impulses. An interruption in these impulses leads to seizures.
There are many different kinds of epilepsy, and different types of seizures. Some seizures are harmless and barely noticeable. Others can be life-threatening. Because epilepsy disrupts brain activity, its effects can trickle down to affect just about every part of the body.
What Else Should I Know
People with epilepsy can and do live normal lives. If you have epilepsy, you can still do regular activities, go on dates, and get a job. Your doctor will talk about being careful in some situations. For example, you can enjoy swimming, but should always swim with other people to be safe. If your epilepsy is under medical control, youll still be able to drive.
Tell the people close to you friends, relatives, teachers, coaches about your epilepsy and what to do if you have a seizure when they’re with you.
For more information and support, look online at:
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