About the disease
Epileptic attacks are caused by abnormal discharges in the brain and by temporary disturbance of sensory, autonomic or mental functions. Epileptic seizure begins when electrical impulses in the brain become too intense.The common belief is that epilepsy is a non-curable disease. It is an erroneous assumption. Modern antiepileptic drugs can help the patients to get rid of the attacks in 65% of cases. These same drugs can significantly reduce the number of attacks by 20%. The basic epilepsy treatment is the prolonged consumption of medicine with regular medical examinations.
The epilepsy is generally classified as a "symptomatic" disease. The biggest risk factor of epilepsy is a genetic predisposition, when there are significant structural changes in the brain system. Some other causes are brain injury or brain tumor.
The number of precipitating factors is as follows:
- Stressful situations, which involve emotional disbalance
- Tobacco consumption
- Sleepless nights
- Hormonal disbalance during the menstruation
- Premature failure of the special treatment, if any has been assigned
If there are discharges in the two hemispheres of the brain, the patient may experience the numbness in certain parts of his body (face, legs, back hands). Also, the epilepsy symptoms may manifest themselves in the short bouts of visual, olfactory, auditory or smell hallucinations. The patient does not lose his consciousness during such seizures. On the contrary, the patient may retell in detail his feelings in the particular moment he lost control. The duration of partial attacks usually lasts not more than 25 seconds.
The most frightening seizure is generalized seizure. There are onvulsive and non-convulsive (absences) types of generalized seizure. At the beginning of the attack (the tonic phase) the person experiences tension of muscles and shortness of breath. He usually can not withhold a piercing scream, which in most cases results in biting his tongue. After 9-15 seconds clonic phase finishes with the muscle contractions, until they finally relax. Such attacks usually disappear spontaneously after a few minutes (3-6 minutes). Then the person feels drowsiness, perplexion, confusion, headache, sluggishness and inclination to go to sleep immediately, seizures without convulsions can happen only during the childhood and early adolescent years of the patient. During such seizures the child suddenly stops doing any previous activities and starts staring at one point without rapid blinking. There may be trembling of the eyelids and light throwing of the head back. Attacks last only a few seconds (6-21 seconds) and often go by unnoticed.
There are about 35 different forms of epilepsy and different types of attacks. In addition for this, each epilepsy case requires individual epilepsy treatment. The main diagnostic methods are computer or magnetic resonance imaging. Normal recording method involves no more than 15 minutes of recording.
- The difficulties of epilepsy treatment include the exact time when the person takes a specific dose of certain antiepileptic drugs for several years. It is necessary to keep a diary of attacks to control the treatment. The patients should also maintain the regime of the day and eliminate the risk factors that trigger seizures: alcohol, lack of sleep, a long stay in front of a computer (especially for photosensitive epilepsy). Antiepileptic drugs are selected depending on the shape and nature of epilepsy seizures. The drug is usually administered in a small initial dose, with a gradual increase until its optimal clinical effect. If the medicine is ineffective the doctor prescribes another one, until he finds the drug that improves the health condition of the patient. The sudden change of dose can trigger deterioration and increased heart attacks.
- Deep brain stimulation (DBS) with implanted neurostimulator is a type of surgery, during which the shock is sent to the brain through electrodes to trigger small seizure and thus reduce the severity of disease