Causes of development and provoking factors of epilepsy
Epilepsy is a serious chronic disease characterized by uncontrolled spontaneous seizures of various types. The disease may be congenital or acquired.
The first epileptic seizures can occur at any age, their development is due to many reasons: from genetic predisposition to previous neuroinfections and traumatic brain injuries.
Certain provoking factors are known, the presence of which may increase the likelihood of epileptic seizures. If they are present, the patient needs to systematically visit a neurologist to prevent seizures and receive timely medical support.
Causes of the disease
Epilepsy is either idiopathic or symptomatic. The causes of idiopathic epilepsy remain unclear. Pathology can be diagnosed in people both at an early and adult age, but most often occurs in children. One of the most likely causes of idiopathic epilepsy, scientists believe hereditary predisposition.
The occurrence of symptomatic epilepsy is associated with one or another negative circumstance that negatively affected the structures of the brain. So, the following factors provoke an epileptic attack :
- repeated flashes of light and color;
- repetitive sounds;
- bright changing pictures, video effects;
- poisoning of various kinds;
- the use of alcoholic beverages, drugs;
- taking certain medications;
- oxygen starvation;
- hypoglycemic attack – with a sharp drop in blood sugar levels.
You need to know that an epileptic seizure in a healthy person can be caused by one of the last three reasons.
Causes of epilepsy in adolescents
Epilepsy in adolescence is most often a continuation of a disease that debuted in childhood. Epileptic seizures in adolescents can either increase or decrease. Puberty is associated with global changes in the body, preparation for growing up and puberty. Therefore, it is quite difficult to predict how epilepsy will manifest itself.
The appearance of symptomatic (secondary) epilepsy in adolescence is usually caused by the following negative factors:
- infectious disease of the brain (meningitis, encephalitis);
- traumatic brain injury;
- severe intoxication with alcohol, drugs or chemicals;
- thyroid disease;
- metabolic disorders.
Epilepsy manifests itself as specific seizures that occur spontaneously and cannot be controlled. If more than one attack occurs, you should immediately consult a neurologist.
Provoking factors in children
Epilepsy is not considered a childhood disease, but is more often diagnosed at an early age. Depending on the form of the disease, it can manifest itself in different ways. Epilepsy is accompanied by convulsions and loss of consciousness.
The most common causes of epilepsy in children are:
- neck and head injuries during birth;
- hypoxia (oxygen starvation) of the fetus;
- infectious diseases suffered by the mother during pregnancy;
- abuse by the mother of alcohol and drugs during the period of gestation.
The disease can manifest itself in a child immediately after birth or after a few years. Minor convulsive movements in children under three months old may be due to an immature nervous system. However, if they are present, you should seek the advice of a neurologist to rule out pathology. If convulsions continue to appear after three months of life, intensify and occur spontaneously, it is necessary to show the child to a pediatric neurologist.
Parents should pay attention to the following symptoms in a child:
- loss of concentration;
- no response to stimuli;
- high temperature;
- stomach ache;
If you have these symptoms, call a doctor right away or take your child to the hospital.
Provoking factors in adults
Hereditary forms of epilepsy do not always appear at an early age. There are cases when patients of older age groups felt their first epileptic seizure, and during the examination it turned out that there was a genetic predisposition.
The occurrence of epileptic seizures in adulthood is provoked by other factors:
- suffered a stroke;
- brain tumors;
- multiple sclerosis;
- metabolic disorders;
- infectious diseases with brain damage (meningitis, encephalitis, etc.);
- alcohol, drugs and other intoxications.
Head injuries can cause epilepsy in people of any age. Damage to the bones of the skull, hemorrhage in the brain and violation of the integrity of soft tissues may be accompanied by the development of pathological processes with secondary epilepsy.
Often the attack is accompanied by dislocations and fractures. Seizures can also be vegetative – without loss of consciousness and convulsions. They are characterized by the following types of symptoms:
- increased heart rate;
- excessive sweating;
- flatulence and spasmodic pains in the abdomen.
Non-convulsive epilepsy can be caused by factors such as predisposition and environmental influences. Epilepsy in adults is treatable. Only an accurate early diagnosis can guarantee success.
The first signs of epilepsy
Often the patient and his relatives do not suspect that he has epilepsy until the first attack. It can be quite difficult to determine the causes of its development and a specific stimulus for the first time, however, the fact that an epileptic seizure is approaching can be suspected if the patient has certain signs:
- headache a few days before an epileptic seizure;
- sleep disorders;
- severe stress;
- nervousness and irritability;
- loss of appetite;
- loss of appetite.
During a convulsive attack, muscle tension is noted, there is no reaction to any stimuli – patients do not hear sounds, do not respond to touch, pain, their pupils do not narrow or dilate. The condition after an epileptic seizure in people becomes lethargic and drowsy, to restore strength and normalize their condition, they need rest and good sleep.
Epilepsy in teenagers: symptoms
Epilepsy is characterized by a violation of the activity of cells in the brain, when the excitation of neurons prevails over the processes of inhibition. As a result, epileptic seizures occur, which are very diverse in their manifestation. In adolescents, focal seizures are most common, possibly with secondary generalization, but generalized seizures are not excluded.
Focal epileptic seizures occur in a specific area of the brain and affect neighboring tissues. The clinical picture of an epileptic seizure in a teenager will depend on the area where the pathological excitation is born:
- Temple area. Epilepsy most often affects this part of the brain. During an epileptic seizure, the patient may experience strange, uncontrollable feelings and emotions. There is increased anxiety;
- forehead area. Patients develop muscle weakness, speech impairment. Epileptic seizures often occur during sleep, which is accompanied by head turns, chaotic leg movements;
- parietal region. Patients have sensory seizures: a person may feel tingling in the limbs, heat or cold, numbness of some parts of the body;
- occipital region. An epileptic seizure disrupts the functioning of the organs of vision. The patient’s eyeballs begin to move from side to side, the eyelids twitch. Before the eyes appear flashes of light, patterns, images. An epileptic seizure is often accompanied by pain. Before and after the attack, the patient may have a severe headache.
With a generalized attack, pathological excitation affects the brain completely. This type of epilepsy significantly impairs the quality of life, as it is associated with a risk of head or face injury during an attack. Generalized epilepsy is usually accompanied by an aura – subjective sensations that portend an attack. Generalized seizures include:
- tonic-clonic. The attack begins with a tonic phase, when the whole body is sharply tense and an involuntary cry can break out. Further, the patient has convulsive twitches. During an attack, a person may lose consciousness. An epileptic seizure usually does not last long (up to five minutes), after which the person feels very tired or may fall asleep. Tonic-clonic seizures, in addition to the main problems, cause significant psychological discomfort to the teenager. Anxiety increases, because it is impossible to predict when the next attack will occur. Self-doubt develops, it is difficult for a teenager to socialize.
- absences . A characteristic feature of this type of seizure is the loss of consciousness for a few seconds or minutes. The person freezes and does not respond to external stimuli. Absences may be accompanied by involuntary twitching of the fingers and facial muscles. Absences create difficulties in learning in a team, since during an attack a teenager misses some of the information presented by the teacher. The attack comes on suddenly, sometimes without aura. In this case, a person can interrupt in mid-sentence, and after the end of the attack, continue the conversation.
- atonic seizures. In this case, the muscles sharply lose their tone and the person falls. There is a high chance of serious injury during an attack.
The nature of epileptic seizures usually remains stereotyped. With the development of the disease without adequate therapy, seizures will become more frequent, and their intensity will increase.
Manifestations of epileptic seizures
Epilepsy is characterized by uncontrolled spontaneous seizures, the occurrence and intensity of which cannot be predicted in advance. You can suspect the disease after the onset of the first attack. If an attack recurs, you should immediately contact a neurologist, since in the absence of competent treatment, the frequency of epileptic seizures only increases with time.
The aura can be manifested by the following sensations:
- certain sounds (ringing or noise in the ears, melody, other sounds);
- some odors;
- visual visions;
- feeling de javu ;
- increased anxiety, etc.
With reflex epilepsy, the appearance of seizures provokes a certain stimulus. An epileptic seizure in such cases can begin as a result of exposure to bright light, a flash of light, light music in a nightclub, a fast video sequence with a frequently changing picture.
In addition, epilepsy can be characterized by the following symptoms:
- convulsions: during an attack, tonic or clonic convulsions appear in the muscles of the upper and lower extremities;
- disorder of consciousness: some simple epileptic seizures are accompanied by the preservation of consciousness, others – turning it off or falling into a coma. In addition, during an epileptic seizure, an epileptic can see hallucinations, mentally move to another place;
- autonomic disorders: in patients with an attack, the pulse, blood pressure, vascular tone change;
- memory impairment: at the end of an epileptic seizure, the patient most often cannot remember what happened to him. As the disease progresses and the frequency of seizures increases, speech and thinking are disturbed in epileptics, which leads to dementia.
In the early stages of the development of the disease, as a rule, simple epileptic seizures occur, characterized by a short duration and the absence of loss of consciousness. As the disease progresses, there is a deterioration in the condition, an increase in attacks with more tangible consequences.
Types of disease
The following types of epilepsy are observed in patients of different age groups.
- Juvenile myoclonic epilepsy. Mostly found in teenagers. Attacks come after awakening, sometimes not accompanied by convulsions.
- Progressive myoclonic epilepsy. It is difficult to treat, during life it can flow into a more complex and dangerous form of the disease.
- Symptomatic epilepsy. Older people suffer. The first signs of the disease may appear before the age of 30. The causes are head injuries and diseases of the nervous system. Due to the variety of manifestations of the disease, it is difficult to diagnose, since the symptoms can be misleading and the patient may be misdiagnosed even after a thorough examination.
- Temporal epilepsy. It affects the temporal lobes of the brain. A common symptom is the state of ” déjà vu “. This form of epilepsy also causes anxiety disorders, uncontrollable outbursts of anger and other emotional states.
- Frontal epilepsy. Symptoms vary and depend on which parts of the brain are affected. It affects the motor functions of the human body. The manifestations of this disease often do not cause unrest. The patient can rapidly move his eyes and tongue, stagnate. From the outside, it may seem that a person is simply experiencing nervous excitement. At the same time, a person cannot organize his thoughts, experiences many emotions at the same time and cannot calm down, focus on one thing.
- Parietal epilepsy. It occurs quite rarely. The symptom is visual disturbances or eye sensitivity to flashes of light. The eyes may move uncontrollably or twitch from side to side, and the eyelids may tremble. Severe headaches often occur during or after an attack.
- Absence epilepsy. Symptoms of this disease are characterized by short-term fainting or loss of consciousness. With rare exceptions , absence epilepsy is manifested by a loss of concentration, a person cannot focus, breaks off a phrase in mid-sentence and cannot build a logical chain to convey his thought. His movements are fuzzy, his hands can move uncontrollably, there are inexplicable sensations in the fingers, so the patient wants to stretch his hands.
- Myoclonic epilepsy. It is manifested by sharp spontaneous movements of the arms and legs. The symptoms of this disease are often overlooked and confused with completely normal hypnogogic myoclonus , which every person experiences when falling asleep.
In addition to the classification of epilepsy, separate forms of epileptic seizures are also distinguished.
Diagnosis of the disease in the Yusupov hospital
Not a single doctor can determine a reliable diagnosis after a single attack, since an epileptic seizure can happen once and in completely healthy people.
For diagnostics at the Yusupov hospital, the following modern methods are used:
- computer and magnetic resonance imaging;
- neuroradiological diagnostics;
- examination by an oculist of the fundus;
- biochemical blood test.
In some cases, a lumbar puncture is prescribed – a study that allows you to identify an infection that has affected the brain.