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.
Causes of epilepsy
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:
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) This epilepsy symptom is characteristic for partial seizures. 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.
If the person notices any epilepsy symptoms, he needs to contact a neurologist as soon as possible. If the attack has happened for the first time and it is accompanied by a respiratory disorder, the person needs to call "ambulance." He also has to remove any hard objects that are in the vicinity and put under the head a soft, flat object. If there`s someone near the epileptic patient, that person needs to calculate the duration of seizure, so that the doctor can identify the type of epilepsy. he should also try to keep the patient from moving, who is trying to stop the seizures. Any movements could easily cause injury. Also it is forbidden to put anything in the patient's mouth. Some people believe that the patient can damage his tongue, but this notion is misleading. The person should also not loosen the jaw of the patient and put any solid objects between them, as there is a risk that during the next tension the patient can accidentally crush his teeth. The seizures that last more than 5 minutes can cause irreversible damage to the brain cells, so it`s important not do any actions that can prolong the attack. Once the seizure has stopped, the person needs to be in a comfortable position: it is better to turn him on his side and ensure that the breathing returned to normal. Until the patient completely comes back to normal, he should not be left alone.
Epilepsy and Pregnancy
Patients who receive antiepileptic therapy and are planning on pregnancy, should a change of therapy or change the dose of medicines. If possible, they need to see an obstetrician-gynecologist who has experience of pregnant women with this diagnosis.
Usually the epileptic attack starts suddenly. The person utters a cry and loses consciousness. His muscles tense and his breathing becomes more difficult, which is why the lips of the patient may become blue. Then the patient enters cramps clonic phase: all his limbs begin to shake, which looks like a disorderly twitching. Some patients may experience the bowel or bladder tremor, excessive drooling or vomiting. After the seizure the patient often experiences drowsiness and memory problems.
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.
Remission for epilepsy is the complete elimination of seizures after 1 year of therapy. Significant improvement of epilepsy is a reduction of attacks by more than 50%.
Most patients take anti-epileptic drugs for a fixed period of time, after which there comes a period of treatment cessation to achieve long-term electroencephalographic clinical remission.
Once the seizures stop for more than 3 years, the doctor cancels the therapy by gradually reducing the dose of the first, second and finally third medicine. The cancellation is done under the supervision of a physician with the EEG control. After the complete abolition of drugs the patient still requires further observation, although it may be not frequent if there no epilepsy symptoms.Hide
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