Epilepsy: causes, symptoms, treatment
Epilepsy is an incurable neurological disease that manifests itself in the form of epileptic seizures of varying severity. They are characterized by temporary dysfunctions in groups of neurons that are concentrated in the focus of epilepsy. Such a picture is observed on the electroencephalogram during seizures.
The intensity of seizures characteristic of epilepsy depends on the characteristics of the body of each patient, as well as on the cause of this disease. There are reasons ranging from the most mild (petit mal), which cause a short-term loss of consciousness, to the most severe (grand mal), when in addition to loss of consciousness there are salivation, cramps, retraction of the tongue and photophobia.
The most common options for epileptic seizures:
- Jackson attacks – manifested by twitching of the fingers and corner of the mouth.
- Partial seizures – in addition to loss of consciousness, hearing and visual impairment appear
- Motor attacks – characterized by impaired motor activity, as well as palpable vibration of the limbs.
- Somatosensory attacks – are accompanied by mental disorders (for example, hallucinations).
- Tonic-clonic convulsions – these epileptic seizures are characterized by involuntary contractions of the whole body.
- Abscesses – loss of consciousness during an attack is accompanied by urinary incontinence and eyelid vibrations.
After the end of an epileptic seizure, the patient remains inhibited for some time. This condition may not change even after a few hours, and then the patient comes to his senses. Prolonged epilepsy can also negatively affect the patient’s psyche. In some cases, epilepsy is accompanied by depression and causeless anxiety.
Epilepsy is found at any age. However, most often the first attack occurs before the age of 20. The disease affects both men and women equally. Unfortunately, doctors do not always determine the cause. Epilepsy can occur as a result of pregnancy or complications during childbirth or after.
The onset of childhood epilepsy can be associated with cerebral palsy, perinatal hypoxia, as well as with genetic and congenital diseases. The cause also often becomes head injuries, hypoglycemia and neuroinfection.
The occurrence of epilepsy in adults often results from head damage. The cause of this disease can also be tumors of the central nervous system, malformations of blood vessels, as well as multiple sclerosis and hippocampal sclerosis.
Epilepsy in the elderly, as well as in the young, can also occur as a result of a brain injury. Another cause is stroke attacks, mental disorders, as well as brain tumors.
In these cases, structural changes occur in the brain. When doctors are unable to determine the cause of the disease, they diagnose the idiopathic form of epilepsy.
The treatment of epilepsy is to normalize the daily life of a sick person. Seizures either relieve or eliminate. Antiepileptic drugs have one of these mechanisms of action:
- Increased activity of inhibitory neurons.
- Inhibition of exciting neuronal receptors.
- Effect on the conductivity of electrical pulses.
They are sold in pharmacies in the form of tablets or injection solutions. Anticonvulsants help reduce the frequency and intensity of seizures, but they do not relieve the disease. Use lamotrigine, topiramate, valproic acid, sultiam and carbamazepine.
Antiepileptic drugs are prescribed by prescription, which selects the method of treatment depending on the type of seizures observed. Timely intake of all prescribed drugs in the indicated doses is important.
If the drugs do not help to make seizures less often, another treatment option is available – surgery. A common procedure is resection – removal of the part of the brain in which convulsions arise. But if this is a vital area, a multiple subpial incision is made to interrupt the path of the nerve impulse, which prevents a seizure.