There is a lot of information available on epilepsy. Despite this fact, many people don’t know much about epilepsy itself. They maybe have seen someone having a seizure and mumbled something about epilepsy and moved on with things.
The truth is that epilepsy is a complex neurological disorder. Brain activity deviates from the normal brain activity it usually experiences. This causes people to suffer from unusual behavior, feel unexpected or odd sensations. Seizures are also quite common, though it takes at least two seizures that are completely unexplained before someone can be diagnosed with epilepsy.
Symptoms of Epilepsy
The symptoms of epilepsy are fairly common. However, many people who suffer from it will actually only show a few of the symptoms. The odd brain activity is universal, but what it does to people differs. Some of the symptoms are:
- Seizures - There are many types of seizures which can occur. More details are available in the next section.
- Staring - People with epilepsy may suffer from spells of staring off into space for extended periods of time without an explanation.
- Mental Symptoms - This is a blanket group included issues like anxiety, fear, or experiencing a strong deja vu.
- Confusion - Confusion is common, though it is temporary.
- Jerking Movements - These occur in the arms and/or the legs.
- Losing Consciousness - Some people confuse this for a seizure. A loss of consciousness is different, but can be an aspect of a seizure.
Types of Seizures
As mentioned before, there are different types of epilepsy. The first type is focal seizures. Focal seizures only affect a specific part of the brain. These seizures can happen where a person is fully conscious and they tend to affect a person’s senses or emotions. Sometimes, focal seizures occur with impaired awareness. People tend to stare into space or be very slow to respond to environmental stimuli.
Generalized seizures occur when the entire brain is affected. Generalized seizures break down into multiple categories. These six categories are:
- Tonic - These seizures affect the muscles. It’s usually the arms, legs or back. Sometimes people fall during them.
- Atonic - These tend to cause a full loss of muscle control, causing people to fall to the ground.
- Absence - These are most common in children and are more subtle than other seizures. Children may stare into space or do additional body movements.
- Clonic - These types of seizures cause the muscles to jerk without cause. This is usually in the face, neck and down into the arms.
- Myoclonic - These seizures feature brief twitches in the extremities of the arms and legs.
- Tonic-clonic - These are by far the most serious seizures. Essentially all aspects of the other seizures can be included. People stiffen, shake and can lose bladder control or bite through their tongue. Loss of consciousness is very common.
Some Rare Types of Epilepsy
There are many variations on epilepsy. These can be caused by unusual brain activity in different parts of the brain, have different causes or simply affect people at different times in their lives.
- Dravet Syndrome - This syndrome is a different type of epilepsy. It was once known as SMEI or severe myoclonic epilepsy of infancy. It affects young children. Like many others, it features seizures. The triggers for these seizures are usually based on heat rather than light. Very high temperatures or running a fever can bring on a seizure.
- Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome - This is a rare but very serious form of epilepsy. It mostly occurs during childhood and causes a variety of different kinds of seizures. There are additional dangers in this syndrome and many children struggle with various cognitive dysfunctions.
- Doose Syndrome - This form of epilepsy is especially resistant to medication mitigating it’s effects. It is known for generalized seizures instead of specific area within the brain. Males are more likely to get this syndrome, and almost always occurs before a child turns 5.
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