Epileptic syndrome in children and adults. What is important to know?
What is an epileptic syndrome? What kinds exist? Can they be cured and how do they differ from epilepsy?
Epileptic syndrome (or episyndrome ) is a type of epilepsy in which similar symptoms appear in a group of patients. For example: the age of onset of epilepsy, a similar course of the disease, similar results on MRI and EEG, as well as the same genetic mutations were identified and the prognosis for the development of the disease in the future is known. Groups of patients with similar manifestations are classified into different types of epileptic syndromes.
In general, epileptic syndromes (ES) are diagnosed in children at an early age. Some types of the disease continue to accompany the patient throughout his life.
There are a large number of different ES, and in this article we will talk about the most common of them.
Absence epilepsy of childhood
Childhood absence epilepsy is a type of idiopathic generalized epilepsy. This epileptic syndrome in children begins between the ages of 3 and 8 years and occurs more often in girls than in boys.
During this syndrome, the child suffers from absences , bouts of short-term fading. Before the seizure, the child is lucid, but after that, he may freeze suddenly with a blank look, looking up, or blinking rapidly. At the same time, the epileptic activity characteristic of the syndrome is displayed on the EEG.
The causes of childhood absence epilepsy are genetic abnormalities, brain damage before or during birth. Diagnosis of this epileptic syndrome in children, as a rule, does not cause difficulties, since the symptoms are quite specific.
In the treatment of this syndrome, drug therapy is actively used. The prognosis of absence epilepsy is favorable, since most children manage to control seizures, and then refuse drug treatment without their return.
Duse syndrome (severe myoclonic epilepsy of early childhood)
Duse syndrome ( myoclonic -astatic epilepsy, MAE) is a rare genetic disease that affects boys more often. The disease manifests itself at the age of 6 months to 7 years in the form of myoclonic convulsions. This type of seizure is sharp, sudden and short-lived.
In addition, other types of epileptic seizures can be observed in children with this syndrome, for example: tonic or tonic-clonic, generalized, atypical absences , and others.
Fortunately, Duse ‘s syndrome responds well to medical treatment, but some children may still experience a drug- resistant form of epilepsy, in which antiepileptic drugs do not help control regular seizures.
Benign focal epilepsy of childhood
Benign childhood epilepsy is one of the two most common types of epilepsy in children. This disease, in most cases, completely disappears before the age of 16, but this does not mean that it does not require treatment.
Seizures in children with this syndrome are observed at the age of 3 to 13 years, but the greatest number of seizures is observed at the age of 6 to 9 years. In 75% of children, seizures occur only at night.
Benign childhood epilepsy is caused by genetic abnormalities. At the same time, epileptic seizures are not necessarily observed in the parents, grandparents of the child. This disease can “jump” through several generations, and therefore parents may not even know that they had people with epilepsy in their family.
In most cases, in the treatment of this type of epileptic syndrome, drug therapy is used. In 75% of children, seizures occur only at night.
Juvenile myoclonic epilepsy ( Yantz syndrome )
Juvenile myoclonic epilepsy belongs to the group of idiopathic generalized epilepsies. During an illness, a child or adolescent develops generalized convulsions, and a certain epileptic activity is displayed on the EEG.
This disease manifests itself between the ages of 5 and 16, and the first epileptic seizures can manifest themselves in the form of absences . After some time, myoclonic convulsions begin to appear in children.
Janz ‘s syndrome is genetic in nature – a large percentage of patients with epilepsy in the family, including the patient’s relatives. Unfortunately, the exact genetic mutation has not yet been found.
As with other epileptic syndromes, the treatment for Janz syndrome is antiepileptic drugs. However, a proportion of the patient will be resistant to drug treatment and the drugs will not be able to control the seizures.
Can epileptic syndrome be cured?
Fortunately, most epileptic syndromes are treatable. However, difficulties may arise if the disease is resistant to drug therapy, i.e. antiepileptic drugs do not help control epileptic seizures. In such cases, the epileptologist will look for other ways to help the patient: a specialized ketogenic diet may be prescribed, a vagus nerve stimulator may be placed, or surgery may be considered.
What is the difference between epileptic syndrome and epilepsy?
Epilepsy is classified according to two criteria:
- According to the clinical picture of seizures. For example: a focal (focal) seizure occurring in one hemisphere of the brain with or without a change in consciousness, absence seizures , generalized clonic seizure, clonic or myoclonic and other types.
- According to the general picture of the disease : age of onset of seizures, a predetermined prognosis, a certain type or combination of several types of seizures, certain EEG results, certain genetic mutations and other general factors in a group of patients. This group can be defined as an epileptic syndrome.