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GENERAL HEALTH

Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment: 3 Important Things to Know about Epilepsy

Epilepsy is a neurological disorder that causes recurrent seizures

Other epilepsy symptoms include loss of consciousness and lip smacking

Ketogenic diets can be followed as a part of the epilepsy treatment

B
Bajaj Finserv Health
April 8th, 2022
9 mins read

Epilepsy is a neurological disorder that causes recurrent and unprovoked seizures. These seizures stem from the sudden rush of abnormal electrical activity in the brain. This condition can also cause unusual behavior, sensations and sometimes loss of consciousness. When you experience two or more seizures without any identifiable cause, it is considered epilepsy.

Today, epilepsy affects around 50 million people [1] across the world. This condition is most common in young children and older adults [2]. According to recent research, men are more likely to develop epilepsy compared to women [3], possibly due to higher exposure to certain risk factors like use of alcohol and head trauma. The two main types of seizures include

  • Focal seizures- this seizure affects your whole brain
  • Generalized seizures- this seizure affects only one part of your brain

A mild seizure could be a little difficult to recognize as it will last only a few seconds, and you will remain awake when it happens. At the same time, stronger seizures cause uncontrollable twitch in the muscles and spasms. They can last for a few seconds or for several minutes leading to loss of consciousness or confusion. Note that there is no cure for epilepsy but you can manage it with medication or other strategies suggested by your doctor. Read on to understand the symptoms, diagnosis and treatment for epilepsy.

Additional Read: What Is a SeizureEpilepsy

Symptoms of epilepsy

The most common symptom of epilepsy is the repeated seizures, which are sudden bursts of electrical activity in your brain. This affects you in different ways depending on how often you feel them and which part of your brain is responsible for it. The other symptoms of epilepsy include

  • Jerking and violent movements in arms and legs 
  • Loss of consciousness  
  • Stiffness in body 
  • Difficulty in breathing 
  • Loss of control in bladder or bowel 
  • Becoming unresponsive
  • Confusion or hazy feeling
  • Unusual taste or smell
  • Lip smacking
  • Staring blankly 
  • Making random sounds or noises

There can be other symptoms depending on the type of seizure you are having. In most cases, you will not have any recollection of the time in which you had a seizure.  

Diet to Control Epilepsy

Diagnosis of epilepsy 

Diagnosing your exact condition may take a while, as doctors will review all your symptoms and medical history. You may have to undergo several tests to help them determine whether the cause of your seizures is epilepsy or not. Your evaluation can include the following tests.  

  • Neurological test- In this exam doctors will test your motor abilities, behavior, mental function and other areas to determine the type of epilepsy you have. The result will also help them understand how to move forward with your condition. 
  • Blood test- This test is done to check for genetic conditions, infections or any other health issues that can be associated with seizures. 
  • EEG (Electroencephalogram) – This test is the most common procedure to diagnose epilepsy. With the help of it, doctors measure the electrical activity in your brain by attaching electrodes to your scalp with a paste-like substance. If you have epilepsy, there will be changes in your brain waves even if you are not having a seizure. 
  • High Density EEG – This test is a variation of the EEG test in which the electrodes are spaced more closely as compared to the conventional EEG. With the help of this test, your doctor can determine precisely which area of your brain is affected by the seizures. 
  • CT (Computerized Tomography) scan – This test uses an X-ray to obtain cross-sectional images of your brain, which can reveal abnormalities in its structure like presence of blood, tumors or cysts. All these can lead to seizures. 

Apart from these tests, in some cases doctors may recommend an MRI or other tests to diagnose epilepsy.

Additional Read: World Brain Tumor DayDiagnosis of epilepsy 

Treatment of epilepsy 

Treatment can help you or other people with epilepsy have fewer number of seizures, or in some cases no seizures at all. Common treatments for this condition include: 

  • Special ketogenic diets that can help in controlling seizures  
  • Medicines for epilepsy called anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs) 
  • Small procedure to put an electrical device in your body which will help control seizures 
  • Surgery to remove a part of your brain causing the seizures 

Conclusion

Uncontrolled seizures may feel overwhelming at times and affect your day-to-day life. It is important to not let epilepsy hold you back, as you can still cope with everyday life. Take help from your friends and family. Some people with this condition require treatment for their whole life, but you can stop if the seizures disappear with time. You may not require any treatment in case you have identified the triggers like anxiety that lead to your seizures and are able to avoid them. Talk to a specialist to get the right advices. You can also book an online doctor consultation on Bajaj Finserv Health. Take a step ahead to manage your epilepsy symptoms and prioritize your health! 

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