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Epilepsy, characterized by occurrence of seizures, is a chronic neurological disorder affecting the brain. This type of neurological disorder disrupts the normal activity of the nerve cells in the brain, sending out wrong signals to result in seizures.

Symptoms of Epilepsy

Symptoms of seizures are varied and many. These symptoms may include, but are not limited to:

  • Convulsions
  • Rapid movement of arm and legs
  • State of confusion that may last from minutes to hours after episodes of seizure
  • Involuntary control over urination
  • Wide open eyes, stared eye focus
  • Episodes of crying spells and loud noise prior to the seizure
  • Loss of alertness
  • Difficulty breathing

Diagnosis of Epilepsy

The diagnosis of epilepsy may involve a series of tests to identify the type of epilepsy and its source. The tests may include one or more of the following tests.

Neurological Examination is performed, wherein the doctor assesses mental functioning, motor abilities and functioning of other neurological areas to help determine the type of epilepsy.

EEG Test may be performed to record the electrical signals in the brain. This is the most common diagnostic tool for epilepsy. During the test, electrodes are attached to the scalp of the individual to records the electrical signals.

Blood Tests are performed to determine certain infections and genetic factors as source of seizures.

PET Scan, known as Positron Emission Tomography, may be performed to determine the part of the brain responsible for causing seizures.

MRI Scan may assist in providing clarity for the diagnosis and may evaluate the presence of other conditions, such as stroke.  

SPECT (Single-photo emission tomography) may generally be carried out when EEG and MRI scan results are inconclusive.

Spinal Tap may be performed to analyze the spinal fluid in the spinal column of the individual. During this procedure, spinal fluid is drawn through a needle from the spinal column.

Other Accompanying Conditions?

Epilepsy also brings about several possible debilitating complications when left untreated. With the aid of coping skills and treatment, many individuals who have Epilepsy may enhance their lifestyle. Other possible conditions that may require management include:

Individuals may fall during a seizure attack. During this process, they may injure their neck, head or spinal cord.

There is also the concern about the risk of drowning, if the individual has a seizure attack while swimming or bathing.

Accidents while driving a car are also a risk for individuals who are epileptic.

Individuals who are epileptic may be at a greater risk for emotional disturbances, such as depression, confusion, anxiety and suicide.

Treatment for Epilepsy

The first line of treatment for epilepsy is medications. Anti-seizure medications are given to individuals who are epileptic to control seizures. Treatment for the root cause of the seizures will also be employed, when applicable. If medications do not seem to have any effect, surgery or other therapies may be proposed.

The Surgical Approaches

Qualifications for candidacy to have surgery if medications do not work may include, but are not limited to: individuals who have small seizures whereby the root cause is confined to well defined area of the brain.

Other Surgical Therapies, such as Vagus Nerve Stimulation may be helpful to prevent seizures. Vagus Nerve Stimulation involves the implantation of a device beneath the skin of the chest. This device sends electrical energy to the brain, thereby preventing seizure attacks.

Adherence to Ketogenic Diet has also proven to be helpful in preventing occurrence of difficult to control seizures. This diet is high in fat, offers sufficient protein, and  low in carbohydrates. While this strategy has been used by for over 75 years, there are both benefits and risks that you will want to investigate.

Outcome for Epilepsy

With the recent breakthroughs made in the area of treatment, it is possible to keep Epilepsy under control and live a seizure – free life for the vast majority.

It is important to recognize that medications and medical procedures are associated with benefits and risks that should be discussed with your physician. It is important to recognize that all information contained on this website cannot be considered to be specific medical diagnosis, medical treatment, or medical advice. As always, you should consult with a physician regarding any medical condition. Your Health Access disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.