First aid for epilepsy and the rules of life with her

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First aid for epilepsy and the rules of life with her

Epilepsy is one of the most common chronic neurological diseases. It has been known since the time of Ancient Greece and Rome, where this one was associated with divine intervention. In Russia, the disease is known as the “epileptic.” More details about this ailment are told by Olga Evgenievna Bystrova , neurologist, candidate of medical sciences, head of the neurological department of the Clinic for Expert Medical Technologies.  

Epilepsy is a violation of the electrical activity of the brain: “incorrect” electrical impulses cause disturbances in movements, sensations, behavior and consciousness. These short episodes of a breakdown in the correct electrical activity of the brain are called seizures, which usually last from a couple of seconds to several minutes. Suspicion of epilepsy occurs with repeated convulsions – 2 or more cases in 24 hours, especially if there is no other reason that could cause them. 

Epilepsy symptoms

Everyone knows that epilepsy is, first of all, seizures, that is, sudden, uncontrolled movements. Convulsions trigger a whole cascade of different symptoms: the patient may fall or begin to monotonously sort out his clothes, or he may completely freeze in one position with his eyes open. 

Doctors distinguish several types of epilepsy, depending on the nature of the brain damage. In addition, each type has its own prognosis and characteristic symptoms.

  • Absance is a “fading”: the patient freezes for a few seconds in any position with his eyes open, as if struck by a magic spell. This type of epilepsy is characteristic of children and usually begins at the age of 4-12 years. Some children may have up to 100 absences a day.
  • A generalized seizure is a tonic-clonic seizure, or a major seizure. This type of epilepsy is best known and easily recognized. The attack usually begins with tension in the muscles of the arms and legs (tonic component), followed by twitching (clonuses). The entire attack lasts an average of 3 minutes, and during this time an “electrical storm” rages over both hemispheres of the brain. After the attack, the patient usually feels very tired and apathetic.
  • Partial convulsions. Here, only one hemisphere is involved in the pathological process. In this case, cramps affect any muscle group, for example facial muscles, and the patient may not even lose consciousness and respond to surrounding events. Complex partial seizures are manifested by smacking, monotonous murmuring or sorting out folds of clothing. These movements are unconscious and cannot be controlled by the patient.

“Convulsions trigger a whole cascade of different symptoms: the patient may fall down or begin to monotonously sort out his clothes, or he may completely freeze in one position with his eyes open.”

Causes of Epilepsy

Any factor that disrupts the natural integrity of the brain can be the cause of epilepsy, for example:

  • traumatic brain injury;
  • systemic disease (sclerosis, Wilson’s disease);
  • infectious brain damage (meningitis, encephalitis); 
  • stroke (violation of cerebral circulation); 
  • prenatal hypoxia.

Epilepsy in children

The good news is that children with epilepsy can “outgrow” it in a few years. But before that, you can compensate for its manifestations by regular intake of medications. Do not despair if some medicine does not help. Most often, several schemes are used, that is, combinations of drugs that are selected depending on the type of epilepsy and other characteristics. Awareness of the surrounding people about the nature of epilepsy will allow you to safely include the child in most of the games of peers and attend kindergartens and schools.  

Diagnosis of epilepsy

First of all, the doctor should examine the patient and carefully ask parents about the nature and manifestations of the disease. Then an EEG, or electroencephalography, is prescribed – this is a recording of the electrical activity of the brain, including during an attack. According to the EEG results, it is possible to confirm the truth of the diagnosis of epilepsy, as well as to identify its type and to prescribe treatment accurately. Other frequent studies are MRI and CT, which can eliminate brain malformations and other structural abnormalities.  

“Children with epilepsy can ‘outgrow’ it in a few years.

Rules for living with epilepsy

Since seizures usually start suddenly, some aspects of daily life can be dangerous. For example, loss of consciousness and seizures while driving or swimming can be life threatening. The same applies to extreme sports – skydiving, rock climbing or diving.

However, with regular intake of drugs, it is most often possible to control the course of the disease and live a full life. 

Epilepsy treatment

There are special antiepileptic drugs or anticonvulsants for the treatment of epilepsy . If one drug is not effective, the doctor may try different drug combinations or regimens. All drugs have minimal toxicity, and doctors are trying to reduce their negative impact on daily life. According to statistics, about 2/3 of patients after the selection of therapy and its regular intake are completely free from seizures.  

Other treatment methods include specialized diets, VNS pacemaker (vagus nerve stimulation) and surgical procedures (destruction of the focus responsible for the development of seizures).    

“Since cramps usually begin suddenly, some moments of everyday life can be dangerous. However, with regular medication, it is most often possible to control the course of the disease and live a full life.

First aid for epilepsy

If you see a person in convulsions on the street or indoors , first of all: 

  • note the time how long the cramps last;
  • remove all sharp and hard objects within a radius of 2-3 meters from the victim, as he may get hurt;
  • remove all jewelry from his neck, as they may interfere with breathing;
  • turn the victim on his side – this will make it easier for him to breathe;
  • Place a pillow or something soft under your head;
  • do not put anything in your mouth – no spoons or sticks!
  • there is no need to open the affected jaw;
  • if the convulsions last more than 5 minutes, call emergency medical help.

Doctors are also needed if the injured person is injured or injured during convulsions, if the convulsions recur again and again, if the injured person is a pregnant woman.

And finally, it is worth noting that thanks to modern medicine and pharmacology, most forms of epilepsy are perfectly controlled by taking medications and you should not “put an end to” your fate after making such a diagnosis. Just find a good neurologist.    

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