‘I want my mind cured, not controlled’- The voice of epileptic patients. Epileptic patient’s brain gets choppy in their minds, and suddenly they are faint and fall down on the floor. When they wake up, they were lost or unconscious, and they don’t know what they did before and what happened to them. During unconsciousness, they were suffering from an abnormal activity in their brain cells and were affected with seizures. They are suffering from the neurological disease called ‘Epilepsy.’ A person with epilepsy will tend to have the same type of seizure each time so that the symptoms will be similar from episode to episode. But the duration of the time of the seizures are undetectable and episode’s time durations varies from patient to patients, as some patients also feel the stigma.
The basic symptoms of epilepsy are abnormal activities in the brain cells, and the patient feels temporary confusions, a staring spell, psychic symptoms, uncontrollable jerking movements of the arms and legs, and loss of consciousness or awareness. Seizures can affect any process in the patient’s brain, and symptoms will be similar from episode to episode. According to the doctor’s classification, seizures classify as Focal or Partial Seizures, and Generalized Seizures based on the abnormal brain activity begins.
Focal or Partial Seizures
Focal or Partial Seizures are those seizures that appear as a result from the abnormal activity in just one area of the brain, categorized into two parts:
Focal Seizures: Without loss of consciousness or the simple partial seizures, these seizures don’t cause a loss of consciousness. A patient may alter emotions or change the way things look or feel. They may also result in automatic jerking of a body part, such as the legs or arms, and spontaneous sensory symptoms such as dizziness, tingling, and flashing lights.
Focal Dyscognitive Seizures or Complex Partial Seizures: These seizures involve a change or loss of awareness or consciousness. During a Focal Dyscognitive seizure, a patient may stare into space and not usually respond to the environment and perform constant repetitive movements, such as hand rubbing, chewing, swallowing or walking in the circles.
Seizures that appear to affect all areas of the brain are called generalized seizures. Six types of generalized seizures that exist are:
Absence Seizures: These seizures generally occur in children and are characterized by staring into space, with patients having subtle body movements such as lip smacking or eye blinking. These may also occur in clusters and cause a brief loss of awareness.
Tonic Seizures: These seizures generate stiffening of the muscles, usually affecting muscles of the back, arms, and legs and may cause patient to collapse.
Atonic or Drop Seizures: These seizures cause a loss of muscle control, which may cause a patient to fall suddenly.
Clonic Seizures: These seizures are associated with repeated or rhythmic, jerking muscle movements, and usually affect the neck, face, and arms of the patient.
Myoclonic Seizures: These seizures usually appear as sudden brief jerks or twitches of arms and legs.
Tonic-Clonic Seizures: These seizures cause an abrupt loss of consciousness, shaking and body stiffening. This category of seizures is the most dramatic type of epileptic seizure. Sometimes a patient can bite their tongue and may lose control over urinary bladder.
Epilepsy’s 60% of cases are unknown or unidentifiable, although some people have epilepsy as the result of some brain conditions such as brain stroke, brain injury, brain tumors, brain infections, blood clot, congenital disabilities, genetic mutations, abnormal nerve cell activity, and development disorders. Seizures may also occur as a consequence of other health problems; if they occur right around a particular cause, like toxic ingestion or metabolic problem, stroke, and head injury. These seizures are identified as Acute Symptomatic Seizures, having a wider classification of seizure-related disorders rather than the epilepsy itself. Causes of epilepsy are identifiable and are related to various factors:
Genetic Influence: Researchers have combined some sorts of epilepsy to specific genes, though it’s measured that up to 500 genes could be attached to the condition. For most people, genes are only a part of the cause of epilepsy that runs in their families. Several genes may make a person more sensitive to environmental conditions that trigger seizures.
Developmental Disorders: Disorders such as autism and neurofibromatosis can sometimes be associated with epilepsy.
Head Trauma: In head trauma, car accident or traumatic injury is the result of epilepsy.
Infectious Diseases: Infectious diseases like AIDS, viral encephalitis, and meningitis can generate epilepsy.
Prenatal Injury: Babies are too sensitive to brain damage before birth. Hence, epilepsy could be caused by some factors like poor nutrition, infection in the mother, and oxygen deficiencies, as the part of brain damage also can create cerebral palsy.
A doctor detects epilepsy with an Electroencephalogram (EEG) test, with this test doctor find out the activity of the brain with electrical activity. In EEG test, small metal discs with thin wires (electrodes) are placed on the scalp, and then send signals to a computer to record the results.
Life-threatening Complications & Risks
The most common risks for epileptic patients are collapsing during the seizures, wherein patients can get injured themselves anywhere on their body (from tip to toe). Car accidents are common during seizure due to patient’s loss of awareness. Drowning can be another cause of death for the epilepsy patient because of the possibility of having a seizure in water. Seizure during pregnancy can cause Pregnancy Complications, posing dangers to mother and baby. During pregnancy, anti-epileptic medications increase congenital disabilities and can have serious side-effects.
For epileptic patients, the risk is everywhere, and it makes ‘Life-Threatening Complications’ in their lives. Epileptic patients may have the risk of Sudden Unexplained Death in Epilepsy (SUDEP). According to the research, the cause is unknown, but it may occur due to the heart or respiratory conditions. People with regular tonic-clonic seizures or people whose seizures aren’t managed by medications will be at greater risk of SUDEP. Overall, about 1 percent of patients with epilepsy die of SUDEP.
Status Epilepticus is a condition where the patient is in a state of continuous seizure activity lasting more than six minutes, and a patient has frequent recurrent seizures without regaining full consciousness. In that case, patient’s status epilepticus have an increased risk of permanent brain damage and death.
Persons with epilepsy are expected to have more psychological problems, especially anxiety, and depression, in extreme cases, suicide. Problems may be a result of complications dealing with the condition itself as well as having medication side effects.
“No seizures, no side effects” is the slogan for epilepsy treatment. Not every person will reach that goal right now, but research getting the “right care at the right time” can help more people achieve it each year.