According to researchers, millions of people worldwide are affected by epilepsy. Although people of any age can be affected by this disease, most often very old or very young people are affected by epilepsy as well.
Epilepsy is a neurological condition that is caused by recurring disruption to the brain’s usual activity. The outward sign of epilepsy is known as seizures, and these can differ in appearance depending upon the part of the brain that is affected and by how far any disruption has been made. These seizures can occur in any part of the brain, and most often, a seizure lasts for one to two minutes.
The brain consists of tiny cells that carry the electrical charge, known as neurons. Usually, the electrical charges in the brain pass between nerve cells and to all the parts of the body. These cells fire in a controlled way. But when an individual has epilepsy, the nerve cells in the brain of an individual are overactive, which sends out powerful and rapid electrical charges. This disrupts the normal functioning of the brain. During this time, brain cells are four times more active than normal, as a result, it causes problems with behavior, movement, and thinking.
Seizures are associated with some phases.
- Preictal - Preictal is the time before the seizure. This phase can last for days to make people feel differently. Many people do not experience anything during this phase, and the others who do, take it as a warning sign. These people experience an aura before a seizure, and this aura makes an individual to see, smell, hear or taste something for no reason. Some people may experience a weird feeling.
- Ictal - In this phase, people experience a seizure. Many physical changes occur during this phase of the seizure, and many people also see cardiovascular and metabolic changes.
- Interictal - It is the time between seizures. During this phase, most people experience emotional changes in between seizures. These changes can range from mild fear to anxiety and depression.
- Cointerictal - It is the final phase. It is a recovery period that depends on the time of seizure and the severity of it.
Some of the common symptoms of seizure include:
There are many factors that can play a role in the development of epilepsy and some of them include, abnormal brain development, an infection of the brain, loss of oxygen to the brain, brain tumor and stroke.
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Types of seizure
There are two broad categories of seizures - generalized seizures and partial seizures.
In a generalized seizure, a large area of both parts of the brain is affected. A Generalized seizure is categorized into several types:
- Absence seizure - This type of seizure occurs for a few seconds and can last for any number of times in a day. It is often mistaken as daydreaming, and later patient do not know anything while he or she was in a seizure.
- Generalized tonic-clonic seizure - This type of seizure has two-phases, tonic phase, and the clonic phase. In the tonic phase, patients experience stiffness in their arms and legs. In the clonic stage, the limbs and head begin to jerk. As it progresses, patients are confused and do not remember what happened.
- Myoclonic seizures - Myoclonic seizure can cause the patient’s body to jerk. It can affect a part or the whole body, and it can be strong enough to affect an individual.
- Atonic seizures - This type of seizure causes difficulty in walking and can cause a sudden drop. It is a serious type of seizure, and patients having this type of seizure wear protective headgear.
Partial seizures are the most common type of seizures, and they occur on one side of the brain. It affects all the functions that are controlled by that part of the brain. For example, when the seizure affects the part of the brain that controls speech, the person’s ability to speak is impaired. A partial seizure is categorized into two main types:
1. Simple partial seizure - Most often, patients suffering from simple partial seizures stay awake throughout the period of seizure and are aware of what is happening but are unable to speak or move until a seizure is over. If the part of the brain that controls the senses are affected, patients might hear, smell or see things that are actually not present in reality. Sometimes, patients even hallucinate about things that had occurred in the past.
2. Complex partial seizures - Complex partial seizures are serious and they affect the greater part of the brain. Also, along with the symptoms that occur due to impairment of the functions of an affected part, patients experience problems with consciousness. Whenever a patient has a complex partial seizure, they stop their work and stare blankly. They often stop their conversation with others and start doing unorganized things. Many times, patients having complex partial seizures look normal because they just stare blankly.
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