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World Epilepsy Day: Everything you need to know about epilepsy



  World Epilepsy Day: Everything You Need to Know About Epilepsy

Quick Bites

  • Epilepsy is a neurological disorder
  • It may affect individuals of all ages
  • Seizures

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) affects about 50 million people each year from epilepsy. This makes it one of the most common neurological diseases worldwide. It is the fourth most common neurological disorder after migraine, stroke and Alzheimer's disease.

Epilepsy is a neurological disorder characterized by unpredictable seizures that can lead to various other health problems. It can affect people of all ages. An epileptic seizure occurs when the nerve cells in the brain suddenly increase their activity, causing a storm that can overwhelm the brain and make it seize. Basically, anything that interferes with the normal functioning of the brain can cause seizures and epilepsy.

Signs and Symptoms of Epilepsy

Signs and symptoms may vary depending on the affected part of the brain and the nature of the seizure. Epilepsy can be classified as partial seizures (when the small part of the brain is affected) and generalized seizures (when most of the brain is affected). Some of the signs and symptoms of epilepsy are:

  • Changes in the way things appear, smell, feel, taste or sound
  • Stiffness of some muscles or twitching on one side of the arms, legs and face
  • Sensory Changes such as tingling in arms and legs
  • Emotional disturbances such as fear or pleasure
  • Repeated smacking of lips
  • Senseless movement or rubbing of hands
  • Making random sounds
  • Taking an unusual posture
  • Repeated chewing or swallowing
  • Fumbling with clothes or objects – uncontrollable movements

A person loses consciousness and can not remember what happened during seizures during a severe seizure.

Read also: Natural and effective remedies for epilepsy

Risk factors for epilepsy

There are certain risk factors that may mean an increased risk of developing the disease. Risk factors include:

  • Age – Epilepsy can begin at any age, but two age groups are more commonly affected: early childhood and those over 55 years.
  • Family History – You're at a higher risk if someone in your family has epilepsy.
  • Dementia – People who suffer from dementia (decrease in memory and other thinking skills) may also develop the disease.
  • Vascular Diseases – Blood vessel diseases and strokes can lead to brain damage that can trigger a seizure and eventually lead to epilepsy.
  • Vibration or Head Injury – If you have previously had a concussion or a head injury, you are more likely to suffer from epilepsy.
  • Brain Infections – Infections in the brain or spinal cord may also increase the risk of epilepsy.

Diagnosing Epilepsy

The diagnosis of epilepsy usually begins with anamnesis and physical examination. Since there are so many seizures, it is important for the physician to identify the type of seizure the patient had.

A physician may ask questions about the nature of the seizures, the symptoms of the patient, and any medications that may be taken. In addition to taking an anamnesis and physical exam, a physician can perform tests to determine which areas of the brain are involved in seizures. The tests include:

  • An EEG (Electroencephalogram) – During an EEG, electrical activity in the brain is monitored by scalp-mounted electrodes. People with epilepsy may experience unusually slow frequencies or spikes and other disorders, even if they do not have a seizure.
  • CAT Scan (Computed Tomography) – A CAT scan is a non-invasive or minimally invasive test that uses a rotating X-ray machine to create detailed cross-sectional images of various parts of the body, including the brain.
  • An MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) – An MRI is a non-invasive procedure that uses powerful magnets and radio waves for clear, three-dimensional and three-dimensional images of body tissue.
  • Blood tests – Blood samples can be taken to check if the patient suffers from health problems such as diabetes, anemia, infections. All of this could cause recurring seizures.

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Written by: Arushi Bidhuri

Source: Onlymyhealth Editorial Staff February 11, 2019


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