Epilepsy is one of the most common chronic neurological diseases in humans. It is a predisposition to the sudden onset of convulsive attacks.
What could cause a seizure?
Various circumstances can cause this pathological condition. The most significant situations are:
- previous head injury – epilepsy progresses throughout the year;
- an infectious disease that affects the brain;
- abnormalities of the vessels of the head, malignant neoplasms, benign brain;
- stroke attack, febrile convulsive conditions;
- use of certain drugs or drug withdrawal;
- an overdose of toxic substances;
- intoxication of the body;
- hereditary predisposition;
- Alzheimer’s disease, chronic ailments;
- toxicosis during gestation;
- renal or liver failure;
- high blood pressure, which is practically not controlled by therapy;
- cysticercosis, syphilitic disease.
An epileptic attack can occur as a result of the following factors – alcohol, insomnia, hormonal imbalance, stressful situations, refusal of antiepileptic drugs.
Status epilepticus is a series of convulsive seizures. It is a very dangerous phenomenon, which is deadly due to respiratory arrest and suffocation, which can occur during a series of seizures. The patient needs emergency medical assistance, as status epilepticus is the main cause of death in individuals with epilepsy.
Forms of epilepsy
Epilepsy is classified based on its origin and the type of seizure.
- There is a localized form of the disease (partial, focal). This is frontal, parietal, temporal, occipital epilepsy. Also, experts distinguish generalized epilepsy (idiopathic and symptomatic forms).
- Idiopathic epilepsy is diagnosed if its cause is not detected. Symptomatic epilepsy is associated with the presence of organic brain damage. In 50-75% of cases, an idiopathic type of disease occurs. Cryptogenic epilepsy is diagnosed if the etiology of epileptic syndromes is unclear or unknown. Such syndromes are not an idiopathic form of the disease, but symptomatic epilepsy with such syndromes cannot be determined.
- Jacksonian epilepsy is a form of the disease in which the patient has somatomotor or somatosensory seizures. Such attacks can be both focal and spread to other parts of the body.
- Considering the causes that trigger the onset of seizures, doctors determine the primary and secondary (acquired) forms of the disease. Secondary epilepsy develops under the influence of a number of factors (illness, pregnancy).
- Post-traumatic epilepsy is manifested by seizures in patients who have previously suffered brain damage due to a head injury.
- Alcoholic epilepsy develops in those who systematically consume alcohol. This condition is a complication of alcoholism. It is characterized by sharp convulsive seizures, which are periodically repeated. Moreover, such seizures appear after some time regardless of whether the patient consumed alcohol.
- Nocturnal epilepsy is manifested by an attack of the disease in a dream. Due to characteristic changes in brain activity in some patients, symptoms of an attack develop in a dream – biting the tongue, urinary incontinence, etc.
Regardless of the form of the disease, it is important for every person to know how to provide first aid during an attack. Indeed, it is sometimes necessary for those who have a seizure in a public place. If a person has a seizure, it is necessary to ensure that the airway is not impaired, to prevent biting and retraction of the tongue, and also to prevent injury to the patient.
The most popular and effective methods for diagnosing epilepsy include:
- EEG (electroencephalography) – long-term video EEG monitoring with the obligatory inclusion of sleep;
- MRI of the brain;
- Collection of medical anamnesis;
- Neuropsychological testing;
- Genetic research methods.
How to distinguish an epileptic seizure from fainting or tantrum?
Description of an epileptic seizure:
- First of all, with epilepsy, the pupils do not respond to light, do not narrow. This is a spontaneous seizure, which is sometimes accompanied by loss of consciousness and occurs after malfunctions in the brain’s electrical activity;
- If it occurs once a day, then it is not dangerous. If the attack lasts more than 5 minutes or the interval between attacks is less than an hour and the person does not regain consciousness between them, then such conditions pose a threat to human life. In this case, immediate hospitalization in the intensive care unit is needed.
First aid for an epileptic seizure
If you see a person who has an epileptic attack, then you need to be able to help him or her. Do not panic – just know the algorithm of first aid for an epileptic seizure:
- Lay the patient on something soft. In extreme cases, put a jacket/bag under his or her head to prevent injury;
- Turn the patient’s head on its side and keep it in this position – this will prevent swallowing vomit and saliva;
- Slightly hold the lower and upper limbs, but strongly compress them and try to resist convulsions is impossible;
- If the jaw is already tightly closed, it is forbidden to unclench the teeth with any object, but if possible, you need to insert a folded handkerchief or a napkin into the person’s mouth.
After the attack is over, the patient falls into a deep and often prolonged sleep – you should not wake him/her up, but you need to call the ambulance team to fix the seizure and administer specific drugs. In addition, an ambulance call is necessary if the patient has a disability group for epilepsy – doctors should record the frequency of seizures, as this is useful for the next examination.
- Status epilepticus. This is a short period of time between seizures during which a person does not regain consciousness;
- Aspiration pneumonia. It may develop due to aspiration during an attack of vomit, food, small items;
- Pulmonary edema of a neurogenic nature. Due to disturbances in the functioning of the nervous system, arterial hypertension occurs, which leads to an overload of the left atrium. As a result, edema occurs;
- Sudden death;
- If an attack occurs while swimming, epilepsy patients risk drowning;
- Mental disorders – depression, selfishness, pickiness, pettiness, aggressiveness, revenge, vindictiveness.
Unfortunately, there are currently no effective methods for treating epilepsy in classical (allopathic) medicine. Usually, the treatment of epilepsy includes the administration of drugs that suppress convulsive activity. It is also necessary to stop the external symptoms, alleviating the patient’s condition. Statistics show a gradual disability in patients with epilepsy. The patient is forced to take drugs all his/her life even with a prolonged absence of epilepsy attacks because there is no guarantee that this will not aggravate the disease. The treatment of epilepsy is considered successful if the dosage can be reduced over time. Cases of a complete cure are extremely rare. In fact, the described method of treating epilepsy is aimed at suppressing the external symptoms of the disease and does not affect its cause.
The treatment of epilepsy is primarily aimed at creating conditions for restoring the lost energy balance, normalizing the psychoemotional state of a person and correcting impaired functions of internal organs.
It is important to note that the treatment of epilepsy is a complex and difficult but solvable task with the combined efforts of a doctor and a patient.
For preventive purposes, it is recommended to avoid drinking alcohol, strong coffee and tea; avoid smoking, overeating, interrupting night sleep, hypothermia and overheating, staying at high altitude, as well as other adverse environmental influences. Patients with epilepsy should keep to a milk and vegetable diet, practice a long stay in the air, do physical exercises, comply with the regime of work and rest.