Types of epilepsy and methods of dealing with them

An epileptic seizure is a petrifying experience and you need to know how to deal with it to avoid severe medical mishaps.

The seizures which are caused by epilepsy are known epileptic seizure and remember to keep in mind that not all seizures are triggered by epilepsy. The epileptic seizure is caused when the brain neurons are attached to each other and operate by means of electric impulse. The body system tries to follow the collective neuron signals towards the nerves and muscles with careful precision and somewhere confusion follows.

In making attempts to reply to every neuron signal, the bodily movements become out monitored and lead to an epileptic seizure. There are various signs and symptoms of a seizure in the case of epilepsy. You may undergo fainting spells or certain body parts may become numb or refuse to function. Loss of memory is also not surprising when it comes to epilepsy and the onset of a seizure. The chest may also tighten before having a fit and you may feel a total state of dizziness and disorientation.

Photosensitive epilepsy

When someone breaks into a seizure while watching television or watching in a movie house, that person might have a condition we call Photosensitive Epilepsy. This condition triggers a seizure if the person is exposed to a visual stimulus. The affecting stimuli are different in the patients.

One can be affected by a certain visual such as flashing lights which may not affect others that have photosensitive epilepsy (PSE). One certainty is when patients feel different or sees an “aura”, they are given the warning to get away from what is triggering their visual stimulus. PSE can be harsh sometimes because of any pattern seen in televisions, for instance, can mean a seizure anytime.

Children with PSE should not be left in a dark room watching TV nor get too close to the television. In some instances, for fear for the safety of their children, parents would take away the television or never miss watching with the children. For adults, patients with the condition have aggravated chances of seizure after intake of alcohol, illness, sleep deprivation, and stress.

Other factors that could trigger PSE are fluorescent lighting (when it flickers), video games or staying on the Internet. No certain cure is set for this condition but there are reports that the sensitivity to these visuals has decreased in time.

What is intractable epilepsy?

Some patients have a type of epilepsy that is difficult to treat with medication. This means that anticonvulsants have a mild effect or do not help to avoid seizures at all. However, even with this type of epilepsy, normal life is possible, as evidenced by the incredible stories of people living with intractable epilepsy.

Pediatric seizures

People of all ages can experience seizures; however pediatric seizures are more common than adult seizures. Pediatric seizures affect approximately 3% of children under fifteen years of age. Half are brought on by fever, the other are febrile and epileptic seizures. Pediatric seizures can either be neonatal, febrile or epileptic. Research is still being done to find out why a child’s brain is more susceptible to have seizures than the adult brain.

Rolandic epilepsy

Rolandic epilepsy is also known as benign childhood epilepsy because it manifests solely in children between the ages of approximately three and fifteen years old, and it has no long-lasting negative effects. Studies have shown that rolandic epilepsy in neonates – newborns – affects far more young boys than girls and that about 4 in every 1,000 children develop the condition.

Tonic-clonic seizures

A tonic-clonic attack begins with a tonic phase: a person emits a peculiar cry caused by a muscle cramp. Then arms and legs begin to twitch. This attack usually lasts for several minutes.

After an attack, a person may experience drowsiness, agitation, so he needs rest. Also, he may not understand where he is, who is around him. In the period after an attack, a person needs no less attention and care than during a seizure. If a tonic-clonic attack lasts more than 5 minutes, then urgent medical attention is needed. During atonic attacks, muscle tone is lost and a person falls to the ground. Loss of consciousness usually occurs briefly, recovery is quick, but there is a risk of injury (especially the head or face). Sometimes such an attack is difficult to recognize since a person falls only if he was standing at the time of the attack. The attack can not be noticed.

Epilepsy according to the age of onset

Types of epilepsy may be categorized according to the age of onset. Benign childhood epilepsy is common in very young children as a result of CNS immaturity. This type of epilepsy is often characterized by an epilepsy seizure in an otherwise healthy neonate and disappears as the child grows older.

Adult-onset epilepsy is characterized by such symptoms as mood swings, irritability, depression, loss of short term memory, and repetitive blinking, staring, head nodding and involuntary jerking of the head.

Once the type of epilepsy has been diagnosed, the next step on how to cure epilepsy is to start treatment.

The link between metabolism and brain activity

For a long time now (since the 60s), we have known that dietary modifications can help treat epilepsy and calm down a person’s brain, especially in children. What we didn’t know until recently, however, was exactly how the biological changes in the metabolism affect brain activity. A study, however, from Epilepsy Foundation shows a direct link between the metabolism of brain/nerve cells and their ability to signal and transmit information between other cells in the brain.

The study published in the academic journal Nature Communications and shows that the metabolism of brain cells does, in fact, control the processes that inhibit brain activity, such as those involved in different seizures. This study is very important because it has uncovered a link between how brain cells get their energy and then transmit information. Until now, scientists thought these two processes were separate and distinct from each other. We now know that brain cell energy production and information transmission are linked, not separate.

When people consume high-fat/low-carb diets like the ketogenic diet or high-protein/low-carb ones like the modified-Atkins diet, the inhibition of brain cell activity and cell signaling occurs. While brain cell metabolism and information transmission are to separate processes that occur in a brain cell, neurons actually couple the 2 independent functions by using small chemical messengers call “reactive oxygen species” or ROS. Normally, ROS will signal for brain cell death, we now know that ROS can play an important role in keeping a healthy brain as well.

Dr. Ali Elahi

This article is written by Dr. Ali Elahi, a specialist in neuromuscular disorders, certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology (ABPN). His expertise includes evaluation and treatment of patients with epilepsy, stroke, headache, neuromuscular disease, and cerebral palsy.He also manages neurological emergencies in the Intensive Care Units.

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