BENGALURU: Epilepsy is a neurological disorder that causes recurring seizures due to unusual nerve cell activity in the brain. The brain communicates with the rest of the body via electrical and chemical signals that are transmitted and received via neuro-transmitters or nerve cells. A seizure can take place when too many electrical signals are fired at a much faster rate than normal.
Symptoms of Epilepsy
Symptoms of Epilepsy depend upon which part of the brain is affected. The main and primary symptom is unpredictable seizures while common symptoms of epilepsy include loss of muscle tone, confusion, convulsions, staring spell, uncontrollable movements, and loss of consciousness.
Types of Seizure
Epilepsy can be caused by injury or illness that affects the brain, and in certain cases due to unknown causes.
In case the abnormality in electrical functions of the brain happens on only one side of the brain, a person is said to have a partial seizure or a focal seizure. Any individual who undergoes partial seizures might feel an aura, a feeling of euphoria or sadness right before the seizure. There might also be change to sensory perceptions such as sight, smell or hearing. A simple partial seizure may be accompanied by abnormal limb movements and preserved consciousness. Whereas a complex partial seizure results in alteration of consciousness or awareness. There may also be screaming, laughing, crying following a complex seizure.
When both the sides of brain are affected, it is called as generalized seizure. This may lead to loss of consciousness. Absence seizures are short and the person having them appear to be staring at something but will have no awareness of the time period. Facial twitching and rapid blinking of eyes may accompany.
Effects of Epilepsy on the body
Epilepsy can affect the circulatory system, muscular system, digestive system, respiratory and reproductive system. Epileptic seizures can cause the muscles to jerk in an uncontrolled manner. If the muscles surrounding the vocal cords seize up, it pushes out air, which can sound like a scream. It can cause one to lose control over bladder or bowels.
Epilepsy becomes more dangerous during pregnancy; about 25 to 40 percent of pregnant women experience a higher number of seizures. There is a higher risk of hypertension, or delivering an underweight baby. Hence pregnant ladies should be closely monitored.
First-aid during the seizure
■ As with majority of the first aid steps, ask people not to surround the person, Many Seizures don’t last more than 30 sec to 1 min.
■ Do not shake the person who is seizing and do not restrain them unless they are at a risk of harming themselves. Remove any sharp object that the person might come in contact with.
■ Roll the person over onto their side and put a cushion under the person’s head.
■ Keep the airway clear, if the person is not able to breathe. Do not give the person anything to eat or swallow, like medicines or water.
■ Observe the time and symptoms of the seizure.
■ Call for medical help immediately if you notice that the person is pregnant or diabetic, if seizure happened for more than 5 minutes or if the person does not regain consciousness, and has high fever. .
Dealing with Epilepsy
The causes of Epilepsy are still not fully known; it can be due to a head injury, birth defect or tumor. Epilepsy can be controlled with medications. Ensuring adequate sleep, avoiding stress,and ensuring regular medications can help.
The author is a Consultant Neurologist, Fortis Hospital Bannerghatta Road