Epilepsy -causes, Symptoms, Treatment

By: james sameul

Causes of Epilepsy
Epilepsy is a common chronic neurological disorder that is characterized by recurrent unprovoked seizures.[1][2] These seizures are transient signs and/or symptoms due to abnormal, excessive or synchronous neuronal activity in the brain.[3] About 50 million people worldwide have epilepsy at any one time.[4] Epilepsy is usually controlled, but not cured, with medication, although surgery may be considered in difficult cases.

Epilepsy is a group of related disorders characterized by a tendency for recurrent seizures. There are different types of epilepsy and seizures. Epilepsy drugs are prescribed to control seizures, and rarely surgery is necessary if medications are ineffective.Having a seizure does not necessarily mean that a person has epilepsy. Only when a person has had two or more seizures is he or she considered to have epilepsy. EEGs and brain scans are common diagnostic test for epilepsy.

Risk factors of Epilepsy
Head injuries are responsible for many cases of epilepsy. You can reduce your risk by always wearing a seat belt while riding in a car and by wearing a helmet while bicycling, skiing, riding a motorcycle, or engaging in other activities with a high risk of head injury.
Seizures can occur at the time of a stroke or many years later. They may occur with strokes that result in lack of blood flow to the brain or with those that involve bleeding (hemorrhage) into or around the brain.

The most common central nervous system infections are encephalitis and meningitis. Researchers have also found an association between epileptic seizures and CNS-occuring herpes simplex virus infections. More research is needed before any causative role can be proved.

Signs and Symptoms
Alternating contraction and relaxation of muscle groups
Eye movements and turning of the head to the same side

To the observer, the person experiencing such a seizure may cry out or make some sound, stiffen for some seconds, then have rhythmic movements of the arms and legs. Often the rhythmic movements slow before stopping.

How is epilepsy treated?
Treatment methods control seizures for most people with epilepsy. Antiepileptic drugs are the most common form of treatment. With certain types of epilepsy, when medication is not effective, surgery may be. Another option is vagus nerve stimulation, a recently approved therapy in which an electrical device is implanted in the affected person's shoulder to periodically stimulate a cranial nerve.
Keep calm and reassure other people who may be nearby.
Unless the individual and his/her disorder are well-known to you, you should have someone call 911 and ask for an ambulance immediately. Especially if this is a first time seizure, the person should be taken to the nearest hospital emergency department for an evaluation.What is clear, however, is that anti-epileptic medications should at least be considered for discontinuation in patients who are seizure-free for 10 years. If a medication is going to be discontinued, it should be weaned gradually to avoid triggering a seizure.
Vagus nerve stimulation -- This procedure involves minor surgery and is a relatively new treatment that helps prevent or lessen the severity of seizures. An electrical stimulator is placed beneath the skin of the upper chest. The stimulator, which emits electrical impulses, is connected to an electrode that is attached to a nerve in the neck through a small incision.

More than a dozen medications are currently approved to treat epilepsy. Each medication has benefits and side effects, and different medications are appropriate for different types of epilepsy.

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