Epilepsy: diagnosis and treatment

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Epilepsy: diagnosis and treatment

Epilepsy is one of the most common neurological diseases that tends to become chronic. The essence of this pathological process lies in the fact that a sick person has sudden seizures unprovoked by any external causes. The danger of this pathology lies in the fact that it often leads to the disability of the patient.

Epilepsy can occur in absolutely any age group. At the same time, no dependence on a person’s sex has been established either. According to statistics, among the adult population, the prevalence of this disease is approximately five people per thousand of the population. In childhood, this figure is slightly higher. As we have already said, this pathology occurs much more often than other neurological diseases.

The mechanism of development of epilepsy is that, due to some external or internal reasons, neurons give out an excessive discharge, which provokes not only convulsive contractions of muscle tissue, but also various other disorders. There are a large number of predisposing factors that can cause such a pathological process.  

First of all, a predisposition to epilepsy is present in those people whose relatives also suffered from this ailment. An important role in the development of this disease is played by the postponed craniocerebral trauma, infectious processes affecting the brain, and impaired blood supply in this organ. Often such a pathology is diagnosed in persons suffering from alcoholism. Other provoking factors include long-term intake of toxic substances into the body, tumor processes in the central nervous system, metabolic disorders and injuries sustained during childbirth. 

The international classification includes two forms of this disorder, which are distinguished depending on the signs of epilepsy: primary generalized and partial. The primary generalized form implies the involvement of the left and right hemispheres of the brain in the pathological process, which leads to the occurrence of bilateral seizures. The partial form occurs several times more often than the primary generalized one. It is characterized by the formation of excess impulses in the cells of only one hemisphere. In this case, three more varieties are distinguished: simple, complex and secondary generalized. The simple variety is not accompanied by any disturbances in consciousness. A complex variety is established if consciousness is still impaired during an attack. The secondary generalized variety suggests that at first an attack is formed in one part of the body, and then it spreads in a bilateral direction.

The main signs of epilepsy

Epilepsy can be accompanied by various types of seizures. The most common seizure associated with this disease is a large seizure. In its development, there are several stages successively replacing each other.

The first stage is called pre-attack . In most cases, it begins several hours before the onset of the seizures. However, sometimes the harbingers can appear several days before. A sick person draws attention to a sudden feeling of anxiety and anxiety that has taken hold of him, which is accompanied by a change in social behavior. Some patients have a so-called aura. Aura is non-specific sensations that have nothing to do with the environment. In other words, a person can smell unusual odors, a strange taste in the mouth, a flickering of rainbow circles in front of the eyes, and so on.

The second stage is the stage of tonic seizures. The signs of epilepsy in this case are reduced to the appearance of tonic contractions, which in most cases last about thirty seconds. A sick person falls abruptly to the floor, his head tilts back, and all muscles are sharply tense, which is manifested by a curved pose. There is a delay in breathing, due to which the skin acquires a bluish tint.

The third stage is the stage of clonic seizures. It usually lasts no more than five minutes. All muscle groups begin to contract abruptly and involuntarily. Moreover, such contractions are fast and rhythmic. Against this background, foam may come out of the mouth of a sick person. The respiratory function is gradually restored, due to which the complexion returns to normal.

The last stage in which this disease manifests itself is the stage of relaxation. All muscles during this period sharply relax, which can sometimes be accompanied by involuntary discharge of feces and urine. The patient’s consciousness is disturbed, he does not react to external stimuli for some time. After that, the condition gradually returns to normal.

In addition, signs of epilepsy can be formed from minor epileptic seizures. The most common among them is absence . It is characterized by a sudden blackout for a few seconds, after which the sick person returns to a normal state.

The principles of diagnosing this disease

Diagnosis of epilepsy consists of patient complaints and neurological examination. The most informative research method is electroencephalography. In addition, computed tomography or magnetic resonance imaging may be prescribed.

Epilepsy treatment and prevention

Treatment of this disease is based on the use of special antiepileptic drugs. These include drugs such as carbamazepine and topiramate. The treatment regimen is selected individually for each patient. In some severe cases, the issue of surgical intervention may be decided. 

The principles of preventing such a disorder are reduced to avoiding head injuries and timely treatment of infectious diseases that can harm the central nervous system.  

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