Epileptic seizure: causes, signs and treatment bases
Epileptic seizures are sudden seizures. They can occur against the background of overwork, hyperthermia, stress, intoxication, excessive consumption of alcoholic beverages, as well as prolonged computer games or watching TV. 1 in 20 people have had an epileptic seizure at least once in their life.
Causes of epileptic seizures
One-time seizures can even occur in people who do not have epilepsy. They can only occur in a person who has damage to certain parts of the brain. In addition, modern medicine at the moment has not been able to give an answer to the question of why some people have seizures all the time, others only have single seizures. However, in some people with the same brain condition, seizures never occur.
Some experts suggest a genetic nature of the seizures. However, the most common cause is injury, vascular disease, inflammation and encephalitis. In childhood, it is especially difficult to determine the causes of seizures. In adults, epilepsy most often develops against the background of brain damage.
The true cause of seizures is electrical impulses that occur in the neurons of the brain. It is they that cause convulsions and other actions that are unusual for the patient. Certain areas of the brain do not have time to process the sent impulses, which leads to the development of epilepsy.
The main factors influencing the occurrence of epileptic seizures include:
- Birth trauma.
- Congenital anomalies of blood vessels and brain.
- Cerebral palsy.
- Brain bleeding.
- Hereditary predisposition.
- Mental illness.
- Excessive alcohol consumption.
- Drug use.
Symptoms and signs of epilepsy
The appearance of an epileptic seizure depends on the presence of two factors: the general convulsive brain and the activity of the convulsive focus. The attack can be preceded by an aura, which can manifest itself in different ways. It depends on which part of the brain is affected.
For many people, seizures only occur during sleep or during their period. However, most often external factors influence the occurrence of seizures.
Seizures manifest in different ways, depending on where the affected area is located. Despite the fact that there are more than 30 types of seizures, they are conventionally divided into two groups: the first of them extend to all areas of the brain, and the second – only to the damaged ones.
By generalized seizures include autonomic-visceral attacks, small and large tonic-clonic seizures, as well as short duration of loss of consciousness.
Symptoms of a tonic-clonic seizure
A minor tonic-clonic seizure may be accompanied by tonic convulsions and convulsions, as well as loss of consciousness. Holding your breath is also possible. The duration of the seizure is on average 5 minutes. After such an attack, the patient may experience drowsiness, headache, apathy.
A large tonic-clonic seizure is characterized by loss of consciousness, tension in the muscles of the face, limbs and trunk. There may also be blanching of the skin and a bluish tint to the skin of the face. The pupils dilate, there is no reaction to light, there is no breathing, and the head is thrown back. This phase of the seizure lasts an average of 30 seconds. Then comes the second phase of the attack, which is characterized by rapid breathing, clonic convulsions, involuntary urination and defecation. This phase lasts about 3 minutes. After the attack, the muscles relax and the patient falls asleep. Most often, the patient does not remember the attack. After an attack, weakness, speech impairment, confusion, and headaches are observed.
The harbingers of a major seizure include:
- mood swings;
- somatovegetative disorders.
The harbingers of each patient are individual, but most often the attack begins with an aura. She may be:
Absance appears to be a short-term period of loss of consciousness. It can last from 1 to 30 seconds. With this form of epilepsy, the seizure component of the seizure may be very weak or absent altogether. Absance is characterized by a sudden onset and short duration. After an attack, a disorder of consciousness is observed. Amnesia may occur.
Absences often occur in children and are the first signs of developing epilepsy. They can occur several times a day. Others can take them for thoughtful states. A feature of such seizures of epilepsy is the absence of an aura. Signs of absences are lack of movement, a frozen gaze, as well as a complete lack of response to external stimuli. In some cases, it is accompanied by rolling of the eyes and a change in skin color. After the seizure, the person acts as if nothing happened.
Absancies can be simple or complex. A simple absence is accompanied by loss of consciousness, which lasts only a few seconds. At the same time, the patient may freeze in one position. In some cases, rhythmic contractions of the eyeballs, dilated pupils, and tachycardia are noted. When the attack ends, the person continued to move and speak.
Complex absence is characterized by movement disorders, pallor of the skin, involuntary urination, and changes in muscle tone.
Symptoms of vegetative-visceral seizures
A vegetative-visceral attack is a vascular and vegetative-visceral disorder, for example, nausea, pressure drops, pain in the heart, tachycardia. The attack begins suddenly, and so it ends. Harbingers of an attack, as well as its consequences, are not observed. These violations refer to epileptic seizures in the event that the seizures occur continuously one after another, and the growth of a coma.
Focal seizure symptoms
Focal seizures are the most common manifestations of epilepsy. They arise as a result of damage to a specific area of the brain. Seizures can be simple or complex.
When a simple focal attack occurs, there is no impairment of consciousness. Seizures are expressed by convulsions in a specific area of the body. Symptoms of complex seizures include changes in consciousness as well as movement disorders.
First aid for an epileptic seizure
Epilepsy is one of the most dangerous and widespread diseases of the brain. Therefore, people with this disease have always been treated with caution. Until now, in some countries, such patients are prohibited from driving a car and engaging in certain activities.
A seizure can happen at any time, so everyone should know what to do in this case so as not to harm the patient.
Don’t panic in the first place. All decisions must be taken calmly, because the health and, possibly, the life of the patient depends on it.
It is necessary to look around and remove all objects that can cause injury to the patient. It is better not to touch the person during an attack. You can put something soft under your head, such as a small pillow or, if not available, a jacket or sweater. During an attack, the head must be turned to the side, having previously released the neck to improve breathing.
You should not forcefully hold the patient during an attack. The fact is that muscles can be tense, and if held, they can be damaged. This also applies to the jaw. If they are tightly closed, do not open them. Doing so could result in injury. You should also not insert various objects into your mouth. This can damage the tissues of the mouth and even knock out teeth. During an attack, the patient does not need water, so there is no need to water him through force. A person may fall asleep immediately after a seizure. You don’t need to wake him up.
From the time of the onset of the seizure, time must be noted. If it lasts more than five minutes, you must immediately call an ambulance. Prolonged epileptic seizures can lead to irreversible consequences and even death.
During an attack, it is necessary to monitor the patient’s condition, and not leave him until he comes to his senses. All actions must be clear, quick and deliberate. Sudden movements and fuss can only hurt.
Actions are important not only during , but also after the attack. After an attack, it is necessary to put the patient on his side so that the tongue does not sink into the throat after relaxing the muscles. In order for the patient to come to his senses and calm down, it is necessary to remove from the room everyone who does not provide assistance.
After an attack, a person may experience involuntary muscle contractions in the limbs, so it is recommended to help him move to avoid falls and injuries. If the attack has occurred in the danger zone, then you should leave it to lie until the patient fully regains consciousness and the twitching stops.
It takes an average of 15-20 minutes to recover from an epileptic seizure. If during this time consciousness has not returned, it is recommended to take the person to the hospital.
The patient should not be given medications during and after an attack. If this is the first attack, then you first need a thorough diagnosis and consultation with a doctor who will prescribe the necessary treatment.
There are predecessors that allow you to determine the early onset of an epileptic seizure:
- Lack of response to external stimuli.
- Increased irritability and aggressive behavior.
- Tearfulness and anxious behavior.
- A radical change in temperament. Active people can become sleepy, and those who tend to behave in a balanced way are overly expressive.
- Short-term twitching of the limbs or facial muscles.
- Dilated pupils.
Treatment of epileptic seizures
The most effective treatment for epilepsy is drug therapy. Treatment takes a long time, and its cancellation is possible only with normal EEG readings.
Treatment can be with antibiotics, antipsychotics, corticosteroids, anti-inflammatory and antiepileptic drugs. As anticonvulsants, drugs based on barbituric, hydantoic and valproic acid are recommended .
The choice of the method of treatment is based on the characteristics of the symptoms and manifestations of the disease. Drug therapy should not only be effective, but also completely safe for the patient.
The therapy is carried out in three stages. First, the selection of the optimal drugs is carried out. The minimum dosage of each drug is recommended first. They should be taken separately. If there are no negative reactions, combinations of these funds are prescribed. The goal of the first stage of treatment is to achieve remission.
The second stage of therapy is the deepening of remission with the help of one or several well-combined drugs. This stage lasts about 3-4 years.
The third step is to reduce the dosage of drugs. In this case, the patient is constantly under the control of electroencephalography. If the results are good, then the drugs are gradually canceled. The third stage can take over 10 years.
However, if the results of the electroencephalogram show deterioration, the dosage of the drugs is increased. In some cases, it is recommended to change the treatment, and choose other medicines.