Epilepsy is a disorder which causes people to have recurring seizures. A seizure happens when nerve cells in the brain send out wrong signals, causing people to feel strange sensations or to behave strangely. It can be accompanied by violent muscle spasms and people can lose consciousness. A person is considered epileptic only when he/she has had two or more seizures. Here are eleven important facts about epilepsy.
Fact 1: The number of people with epilepsy is 2.2 million people or 7.1 for every 1,000 people in the USA. However, when people were asked if they had ever had epilepsy in their life, 16.5 for every 1,000 people reported that they did.
Fact 2: Epilepsy is developed through abnormal brain functioning. It can develop from abnormal brain wiring, imbalances in neurotransmitters (chemicals that give signals to the body), changes in features of the brain cells, or a combination of these factors. However, there are other, less common factors which can cause epilepsy.
Fact 3: There are different types of seizures. For example, myoclonic seizures are sudden and very short duration jerking of the extremities and Absence seizures involve staring spells.
Fact 4: Epilepsy can be diagnosed in two main ways. One is measuring electrical activity in the brain or the other is through a brain scan, such as through magnetic resonance imaging or through computed tomography.
Fact 5: Epilepsy cannot be cured. However, the seizures can be through diet, devices, medication, and/or surgery. 70% of epileptic patients, can have their seizures controlled using modern medicines and/or surgical techniques. Also, some children in particular can adopt special diets to control their seizures when medications are either ineffective or causes serious side effects.
Fact 6: Seizures do not cause brain damage (except in cases where the seizures are severe and uncontrolled). Epileptics often develop behavioral and emotional problems along with with seizures. As a result, epileptics often face embarrassment, frustration or teasing. Children with epilepsy often go through bullying and avoid school or other social settings for fear that they might have a seizure.
Fact 7: The cause of epilepsy in unknown. Scientists are attempting to find the cause by studying seizures in children, adults and the elderly. They also study the seizures following brain trauma, stroke and brain tumors.
Fact 8: The risk of having epilepsy can be decreased. There are three main ways to prevent epilepsy.. Firstly, some problems during pregnancy and childbirth may lead to epilepsy. Therefore having a healthy pregnancy can reduce chances of epilepsy in both the mother and the baby. Secondly, avoid having brain injuries. Thirdly, take action to lower your chances of stroke and heart disease.
Fact 9: The person that specializes in epilepsy is called an epileptologist. Many health providers treat epileptics. These people include family physicians, pediatricians, and nurse practitioners. When problems such as seizures or side effects of medication take place, the physician, pediatrician or practitioner may send the patient to a neurologist (a doctor specializing in the nervous system) or to an epileptologist for specialized care. People are often referred to an epilepsy center for specialized care.
Fact 10: Most states will not issue a driver’s license to an epileptic unless he/she has documentation that mentions he/she has not had a seizure for a significant amount of time. This period can range from a few months to over a year.
Fact 11: Exercise rarely triggers a seizure. Sometimes epileptics worry that exercise (especially sports) can worsen their seizures. It is always important to avoid injuries caused by exercise that can increase the risk of seizures but regular exercise could improve seizure control and improves physical, mental, and emotional well-being in epileptics.