Hercules’ disease: epilepsy

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Hercules’ disease: epilepsy

Epilepsy in ancient times was known as Hercules’ disease – it was believed that the famous hero of ancient Greek mythology was ill with it. In addition, according to historical records, epilepsy was accompanied by such famous historical figures as Socrates, Julius Caesar, Alexander the Great and Napoleon Bonaparte.

Falling disease, or epilepsy

One of the oldest diseases of mankind, epilepsy, is of a chronic and non-infectious nature. The disease consists in a disorder of the functions of the brain, which is expressed in involuntary seizures (seizures). For many centuries, epilepsy was spoken about with fear, with reverence, with a lack of understanding, which caused a certain attitude towards it: social stigmatization (public stigma of epileptics) and discrimination. However, until now, in many countries, this ailment causes fear and rejection.

Epileptic seizures are generalized (when the whole body is seized by seizures) and partial (seizures are noted in any part of the body). Sometimes seizures in epilepsy are accompanied by loss of consciousness and uncontrollable functions of the bladder and intestines. Such seizures are explained by the excess of electrical discharges in the brain cells – these discharges are nonspecific for one particular area of ​​the brain.  

Epilepsy is not necessarily expressed by intense and prolonged convulsions, it can take the form of a short-term memory lapse, manifest itself in muscle spasms. Also, epileptic seizures can occur once a year and more than once during the day. This suggests that the frequency and intensity of seizures are categories that depend on various parameters.

Therefore, it is impossible to assert the presence of epilepsy one by one. The doctor can make the appropriate diagnosis only if the number of seizures is more than two.

The most common type of epilepsy is idiopathic, the pathogenesis of which has not been established. It is assumed that genetic factors play an important role.

Secondary (symptomatic) epilepsy has a clearer nature, its causes are known. It can be provoked by hypoxia in the prenatal period, birth trauma, genetic abnormalities affecting the brain, stroke, serious head injury, infectious brain disease ( neurocysticercosis , meningitis), brain tumor.

Disease symptoms

Doctors emphasize that people who are prone to seizures can experience psychological disorders (anxiety syndrome, depression).

Symptoms of the disease may depend on the area of ​​the brain where the lesion is present and how extensive the lesion is, although there is not always a correlation. It is also worth remembering the temporary symptoms of the disease: loss of consciousness, short-term disorientation, failure in the motor system, impairment of smell and taste, as well as hearing and vision.

A generalized attack may be preceded by some dizziness and mild auditory / visual hallucinations. Then the person loses consciousness and then convulsions follow , over which the patient has no control. The seizure usually does not last longer than a few minutes. 

Epilepsy is characterized by some atypical manifestations: the disease may well be without convulsions. As noted above, this variant of the disease of a non-convulsive nature is expressed in a short loss of consciousness or in some dimness of consciousness (twilight consciousness).

It is possible to develop status epilepticus, when the endlessness of seizures leads to a critical condition and medical emergency intervention is indispensable.

During a seizure, a person may bite their tongue or choke on saliva, which can lead to hypoxia. Convulsions negatively affect the work of the cardiovascular system, therefore, problems in this area are not uncommon.

According to the World Health Organization, 2 million people are diagnosed with epilepsy every year, and often in countries with weak economies and underdeveloped medical infrastructure. This can be explained by such circumstances as the presence of endemic diseases (for example, neurocysticercosis and malaria), the lack of affordable medicine, etc.

Epilepsy treatment and prevention

Treatment of epilepsy is based on the regular daily intake of drugs at a low price level. If the treatment of epilepsy is successful, after some time, the doctor can inform the patient about discontinuation of pharmacotherapy.

Therapy for epilepsy involves the use of anticonvulsants (anticonvulsants). The doctor himself selects a specific drug, relying on factors such as the type of seizures, the general condition of the patient, epilepsy syndrome, etc. At the first stage, monotherapy is provided (using only one drug in the treatment). If this does not have the desired effect, then either the drug is changed, or the doctor will prescribe the simultaneous use of two medications.

The patient can be treated for epilepsy on an outpatient or inpatient basis. No sophisticated medical equipment is required to cure the disease. In outpatient supervision, he is examined by a psychiatrist or neurologist, and in an inpatient, he is kept in neurological departments of hospitals. It is also possible to place patients with epilepsy in a psychiatric hospital, even forcibly, if mental disorders make them dangerous both for others and for themselves. At the present stage, compulsory treatment of such patients is authorized only by a court decision, with the exception of severe cases.

The preventive approach to the disease consists of several points:

  • prevention of head trauma (which sometimes provokes post-traumatic epilepsy);
  • high-quality perinatal medicine will lead to a decrease in the number of birth injuries that can serve as motives for epilepsy;
  • compliance with safety measures in tropical regions of the planet, since infections of the central nervous system (common in these areas) have the ability to cause epilepsy.

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