What Is Epilepsy? The Science of Seizures

Most people have heard the term epilepsy before and know that it involves seizures. But you may not understand the deeper mechanics of what causes these seizures. What Are Seizures? Seizures are a brain malfunction in which cortical nerve cells, or cells in the cerebral cortex, fire abnormally for a period. During normal brain function, nerve cells are sending electrical messages at different times. When a seizure occurs, a lot of cells begin firing at the same time. This creates synchronous waves of electrical current in the brain that cause abnormal mental and bodily reactions. Epileptic seizures can occur in very localized parts of the brain, or they can be neurons misfiring all over the place all at once. Seizures can manifest themselves in several ways. The most serious cause the patient to shake uncontrollably and even stop breathing. These seizures are often preceded by certain sensory stimulants, such as seeing strange lights and smelling unpleasant smells. But often seizures are just a momentary lapse in mental awareness. Such small seizures may pass undetected by observers, and even the...

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Diagnosing Epilepsy

Diagnosing epilepsy takes time. There are several diseases and disorders that include seizures as one of their symptoms. There are even other symptoms that may look like a seizure but are actually a different issue. It is always important to rule out other issues because they may need different treatments in addition to the treatments for the seizures. Some may even be fatal if not treated correctly. Here are some of the key steps that doctors take to make an accurate diagnosis for epilepsy. Tracking Seizures If a patient has two seizures close together, they will be put on anti-seizure medication while medical staff tries to identify the cause. Any subsequent seizures will be tracked. It is important for the patient, their friends and family, and their medical staff to note any possible causes, such as medication or food. During this time, doctors will perform thorough examinations of the patient. They will order blood tests, allergy tests, and brain scans to rule out other possible disorders. Obtain an EEG and Other Imaging Tests One of the most important indicators...

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The Three Methods of Treatment for Epilepsy

A diagnosis of epilepsy can seem hopeless at first, because as of today there is no cure for the disorder. However, it is a fairly treatable issue, as nearly 70% of cases can be controlled with proper medication. Medication The first and most successful treatment for epilepsy is medication. There are several medications available for first aid use. These are for when an unexpected seizure occurs and there is a risk for brain and bodily damage. Other medications are available that are sometimes prescribed for the rest of the patient’s life, or until the seizures have stopped. There are many different anticonvulsants available. They are prescribed based on seizure type and the patient’s age, lifestyle, and other possible medical issues. It sometimes takes a trial of two or three different anticonvulsants before doctors can find the medication and dosage right for the patient’s needs. Surgery Sometimes patients have seizures that always occur in the same part of the brain and the seizures do not seem to stop with medication. These patients may pursue surgery as a way to either...

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A Guide to the Unpredictable Nature of Epilepsy

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Basics of Epilepsy

Epilepsy is defined by recurring seizures that have no immediate cause. The seizures occur when neurons in the brain fire abnormally and cause both mental and physical symptoms.
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Diagnosis of Epilepsy

Doctors take several steps and perform a number of tests before they diagnose epilepsy, as there are many diseases requiring other treatments that can also cause seizures.
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Treatment of Epilepsy

For the majority of epileptic patients, medication controls seizures so that the patient is able to continue a normal life. More serious cases may require surgery or neurostimulation.