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Epilepsy

  • What is Epilepsy?

    Epilepsy, also known as seizure disorder, is a neurological condition that affects the central nervous system. Epilepsy is often diagnosed after one has suffered at least two seizure episodes not associated with any known medical condition. These seizures usually occur when the electrical activity in your brain is disturbed. 

    Seizures are dangerous and require treatment. There are different types of epilepsy, including:

    • Idiopathic Generalised Epilepsy - Generally appears during childhood and is often associated with a strong family history of epilepsy
    • Idiopathic Partial Epilepsy - The mildest type of epilepsy begins in childhood and may be outgrown by puberty
    • Symptomatic Generalised Epilepsy - Caused by brain damage during birth or inherited brain diseases
    • Symptomatic Partial Epilepsy - Appears in adulthood, caused by localised brain abnormality
  • Only a minority of epilepsy cases have clear causes. The most common causes of epilepsy are associated with trauma or injury to the brain. These include brain damage at birth or from accidents during adolescence, brain tumours, brain infections such as meningitis and encephalitis, Scarring or “sclerosis” of brain tissue, and strokes. In addition, a strong family history of epilepsy increases the susceptibility to the disease. 

    Certain factors can also trigger seizures in people with epilepsy. These include forgetting to take seizure medications, heavy alcohol consumption, drug abuse (including Cocaine, Ecstasy), sleep deprivation (insomnia) and use of drugs that interfere with seizure medications.

  • Seizures are the most common warning signs of epilepsy. There are two main types of seizures:

    • Focal Seizure - symptoms include:
      1. Disturbance to visual, sensory and motor abilities
      2. Loss of consciousness
    • Generalised Seizures - symptoms include:
      1. Difficulty breathing and incontinence
      2. Involuntary twitching of arms and legs (1 to 2 minutes)
      3. Loss of consciousness (30 seconds to 5 minutes)
      4. Tongue biting
    • Medical treatment includes the use of anti-epileptic medication as a first-line treatment
    • Preventative treatment:
      1. Avoiding stress
      2. Having enough sleep (insomnia)
      3. Taking of medication as prescribed
    • Surgical treatment (most likely brain surgery) follows if medications are ineffective in controlling Seizures 
  • There might be some side effects to medications used to treat epilepsy. These include:

    • Blurred vision
    • Hair loss
    • Hand shaking
    • Sleepiness, giddiness and fatigue
    • Weight gain
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