Non-terrible epilepsy. What do you need to know?
Epilepsy is one of the most common diseases of the nervous system. Therefore, faced with an illness, patients ask themselves the question – is it possible to recover from epilepsy forever? Unfortunately, this disease is incurable. But up to 65% of patients can live with little to no seizures or other clinical symptoms, provided they undergo appropriate medical evaluation and receive appropriate treatment. Often, it is not the disease itself that causes death, but incorrect or untimely assistance.
Epilepsy is not a death sentence. Thanks to the rapid development of medicine, patients suffering from epilepsy have a chance to lead a normal, fulfilling life.
Epilepsy is a purely neurological disease. Outside of seizures, a person with epilepsy is no different from others. However, it is worth recognizing an unpleasant fact – they treat such people in society with caution. The fact is that the term “epilepsy” is overgrown with myths and stereotypes that may not correspond to reality.
The problem of epilepsy should attract the attention of not only patients, but also healthy people.
Since 2008, on March 26, the world has celebrated the so-called purple day – Epilepsy Day. This is a chance for everyone to learn about the disease, its causes and treatment.
What it is?
Many have heard of epilepsy and mistakenly refer to it as a mental illness. But it’s not. Epilepsy affects the nervous system and is characterized by the presence of foci. This neurological disease is accompanied by seizures. The patient cannot predict the onset of an attack. Epilepsy is really dangerous because of its unpredictability. Diagnosis and treatment of the disease includes a number of studies and methods that contribute to an accurate diagnosis. Do not panic if you have had a single attack. This does not yet indicate the presence of a diagnosis. When seizures recur and are severe, then there is reason to start treatment for epilepsy.
Often the disease develops in childhood, but it is not included in the list of purely childhood diseases. There are cases when patients learned their diagnosis in adulthood. Epilepsy is inherited in 10% of cases. In adults, the disease develops against the background of other diseases. For example, with brain tumors. Alcohol intoxication is a common cause of this disease. Alcoholic epilepsy is included in a group of pathological conditions characterized by the development of convulsive or non- convulsive seizures associated with alcohol consumption.
The most common forms of epilepsy are:
- Febrile seizures are only partially associated with epilepsy because patients do not require daily antiepileptic drug therapy. In general, seizures occur in children aged 3 months to 6 years.
- Benign rolandic epilepsy is characterized by occasional mild seizures that occur predominantly during nocturnal sleep. But sometimes patients need to take antiepileptic drugs.
- Juvenile myoclonic epilepsy responds well to treatment. In 75-85% of patients, a stable remission is observed. Attacks are mild and occur mainly after waking up.
- Infantile spasms is an epileptic syndrome observed in children aged 3-7 months. It stops when the child is 2-4 years old, but there is a danger that infantile spasms will flow into another form. 1/5 of cases of infantile spasms subsequently develop into Lennox- Gastaut syndrome . Convulsions in a child may last only a few seconds, but they can be repeated many times throughout the day. Children suffering from this form of epilepsy have psychomotor disturbances or intellectual retardation.
- Lennox – Gastaut syndrome is quite rare. It is characterized by a combination of attacks of several types and their resistance to drug therapy. This form is difficult to treat, but sometimes it is possible to achieve partial control of seizures.
- A form of reflex epilepsy usually develops during adolescence. In girls, the disease is diagnosed more often than in boys. The causes of seizures are external irritating factors. Approximately 50% of patients have seizures only in response to rhythmic light stimulation, and in other cases are provoked by flashing light. Sometimes seizures appear spontaneously.
- Temporal epilepsy is one of the most common types of epilepsy, which is characterized by the location of the epileptic focus in the temporal region of the brain. This form is the worst to treat, in 30% of the drugs have no effect at all. The onset of an attack in temporal lobe epilepsy is usually expressed by involuntary movements. In rare cases, the patient freezes in an unnatural position during an attack.
- Frontal epilepsy (frontal epilepsy) refers to severe forms of the disease. Attacks begin suddenly and end quickly. Due to the nature of the course of the disease, it is difficult to diagnose.
Each of the forms of epilepsy has its own differences in manifestations. But can epilepsy be cured if you turn to a specialist in time? This is possible if you go to the doctor on time, do not ignore the symptoms, and follow all the recommendations. If you were once diagnosed with epilepsy, be prepared for the fact that now you have to constantly check. Treatment is prescribed based on the individual characteristics of the patient: age and general health. For example, epilepsy can be successfully treated in infants and young children. For this, special therapy is used, which is aimed at eliminating the occurrence of seizures and restoring impaired brain functions.
Treatment for epilepsy in older children mainly involves medication to control seizures and reduce the risk of relapses.
The first seizures of epilepsy occur before the age of 18. Very rarely, the disease appears in adults. Seizures are unstable and have a variable degree of severity. At one moment, the patient may not notice the onset of a seizure, and at another, experience a more severe form of an attack.
The causes of epilepsy depend on age. They are different for children and adults. The course of the disease in patients of different ages also has its own characteristics. Sometimes epilepsy occurs as a secondary disease with:
- developmental disabilities in children
- diseases of the central nervous system,
- alcohol and drug use.
It is the causes of an epileptic seizure that are the directions in the choice of therapy. If the disease provokes a malignant tumor in the brain, then it must be removed. If the increased excitability of the focus in the brain is associated with a hemorrhage, then the accumulation of blood is removed and the condition of the vessels is normalized.
Different causes and factors for the development of epilepsy and the appearance of a focus in children and adults are classified into the following groups:
- Idiopathic group. It includes heredity.
- Symptomatic group. This includes diseases, intoxications and injuries, cysts and other causes that contributed to the onset of epilepsy.
- Cryptogenic group. The reasons for the development of the disease in patients cannot be precisely established.
Epilepsy is 3 times more common in children than in adults. It is especially difficult to make a correct diagnosis in newborns, because seizures can be difficult to distinguish from normal infant motor activity. In addition, the symptoms of epilepsy are very diverse. Some patients do not have such seizures at all.
Can it be cured forever?
According to the statistics of the World Health Organization, today there are approximately 50 million people in the world suffering from various forms of epilepsy. Approximately 40% of these cases are untreatable, and approximately half of epileptics cannot take medication without experiencing side effects. Prescribe treatment so that the disease has a minimal impact on the patient’s quality of life. Having become a hostage of this disease and for the first time coming to an appointment with a specialist, patients ask the question – is it possible to recover from epilepsy forever? Unfortunately no. But you can learn to live with it and maintain your health. Moreover, every year new methods and drugs appear in medicine. Depending on the form and course of the disease, doctors prescribe the most effective course of treatment.
Indications for conservative therapy
Epilepsy affects all aspects of a patient’s life, and understanding these problems is important from a medical and social point of view. The most important goal in the treatment of epilepsy is to stop seizures with minimal side effects of antiepileptic therapy. In recent years, there have been positive developments in solving the problem of epilepsy. More advanced imaging methods have appeared that have made it possible to diagnose the organic nature of the disease. The main objective of conservative treatment of patients is the prevention of recurrence of seizures. Therefore, pronounced symptoms of epilepsy may become an indication for conservative therapy. Before starting treatment, it is necessary to confirm the diagnosis. And for this, the patient needs to conduct a comprehensive examination. Diagnostics includes the following studies:
- blood test,
- skull radiography,
- fundus examination,
- ultrasound dopplerography of cerebral arteries.
Neuroimaging using computed X-ray or magnetic resonance imaging of the brain is mandatory . Treatment may not work if the patient has ignored the symptoms of epilepsy for a long time or did not follow the doctor’s recommendations. If all conservative methods are ineffective, and the form of the disease meets certain indications, surgical treatment is used.
Before turning to radical methods of treating epilepsy, the patient must undergo a course of medication and possibly chemotherapy. Only after the results obtained do not indicate a positive trend, you can turn to surgery. The main indication for surgical treatment is the resistance of seizures to drugs and drug therapy. Neurosurgery is the best option for patients with drug-resistant epilepsy. The surgical operation is to eliminate the focus of epilepsy. It is an effective and safe treatment method. After the operation, there is no seizures, which is a factor in improving the quality of life and psychosocial adaptation of patients. Surgical operations are performed in exceptional, especially severe cases in order to remove a formation that causes mechanical irritation of the brain, as well as to perform cortexectomy and partial callosotomy .
Is epilepsy in adults curable?
Recently, attitudes towards epilepsy have changed. This disease has been cured. The process is quite complex and costly, but modern medicine has achieved incredible success. Many patients receive timely, qualified assistance from specialists. As a result of proper treatment and medication, patients can fully control seizures, and after five years they can stop taking medication. The main thing is to know where epilepsy can be cured, not to delay going to the doctor and follow all the recommendations. But patients who managed to cope with the disease should adhere to a certain lifestyle. This is especially true for adults, the cause of epilepsy in which was bad habits and negligence in relation to their health. It is important to follow the basic rules of the regime: sleep for 7-8 hours and completely refuses alcohol.