Is epilepsy serious or not?

Is epilepsy serious or not?

Imagine walking around the small shop on the corner of the neighbourhood to run errands. Then, you saw an unconscious person lying down with her body shaking on the ground. The curiosity of being a considerate being will first lead you to think what is happening and you can guess it could be a sign of seizures. In those brief moments, to have a sense of panic is totally normal but the best way to deal with this is to provide aid. First, make the person in a safe environment which includes cushioning their head from constant banging on the ground and away from objects nearby. Next, you should stay with the person until they are fully awake and alert. To make sure they are really awake and alert is simply by asking “are you alright” and “where you are now”. Such questions can help you understand the severity of the seizures and to decide if you need to call for medical assistance. You should definitely ask for help and medical assistance if the seizures last more than 5 minutes or the person does not seem to gain a sense of consciousness.

Antiepileptic drugs such as Keppra 500 mg are among the drugs prescribed by doctors to help people with epilepsy. Epilepsy or seizures is a result of sudden uncontrolled movement and changes in behaviour that is caused by the abnormal activity in the brain.  The term seizures and epilepsy are often used interchangeably but do you know it actually has 2 different meanings? Seizures are a single occurrence whereas epilepsy is defined as 2 or more unprovoked seizures. In simple terms, people with epilepsy surely have seizures but those with seizures may or may not have epilepsy. This is because seizures may actually be caused by other conditions not relating to the brain such as low blood sugar and heart conditions.

Although many underlying diseases or medical conditions have been linked to epilepsy, the exact cause of the disease is still unknown. Geneticity is said to be one of the reasons a person could be having epilepsy. This is shown by 1 in 3 people with epilepsy does have family members diagnosed with epilepsy. Damages to the brain such as stroke, brain tumour, severe head injury, drug abuse, excessive alcohol, brain infection such as meningitis or encephalitis, congenital abnormalities or genetic conditions associated with brain malformations and lack of oxygen during birth can be reasons leading to epilepsy.

Possible symptoms include losing consciousness, staring blankly into space, uncontrollable jerking and shaking known as a “fit”, stiff body, strange sensations including vision, hearing or taste and tingling feeling in arms or legs. Characteristics of seizures depend on the location of the affected brain region where the disturbance initially starts and the way it spreads. Epilepsy where the seizures begin from both sides of the brain simultaneously is known as primary generalised epilepsy. Partial seizures or known as focal seizures affect a single brain area and are associated with epilepsy.

Epilepsy can be controlled with medications. Anti-epileptic drugs are usually the main treatment. There are many kinds of anti-epileptic drugs and it usually depends on the type of the seizures. 2 out of 3 people with seizures find that antiepileptic drugs work to reduce the severity and frequency of the symptoms. In some cases, surgery can help remove part of the brain that causes the seizures. Some doctors may recommend vagus nerve stimulation therapy to treat epilepsy. This therapy involves implantation of a device under the skin on the chest area and works by sending regular mild pulses of electrical energy to the brain via vagus nerve. Beside medical intervention, there are natural ways of treating epilepsy such as ketogenic diet and relaxation technique from qualified practitioners.

Despite knowing this much about epilepsy, people who live with epilepsy or those taking care of patients with the condition might wonder if epilepsy is serious. Without a doubt, epilepsy is a serious health condition. This is because there are many wrong or dangerous ones that can happen during the epilepsy attack. Here are reasons that makes epilepsy a serious matter:

  • Chances of injuries such as bruises, cuts, burns, falls, broken bones and head injury.
  • Permanent injury or death can occur when seizures cannot be stopped.
  • Death from drowning even in a tube with only a few inches of water.
  • Sudden unexpected death in epilepsy (SUDEP) in 1 out of 1000 people with epilepsy especially in poorly controlled epilepsy.

Although the health condition itself is serious, it is worth noting that patients can actually live with epilepsy and have a normal life. It is estimated that up to 70% of people with epilepsy can live seizure-free if it is diagnosed early and get treated. It is important to know how to manage the condition so the patient can have a normal life. This includes taking medication regularly, have discussion with healthcare professional if there is something wrong with medication or the way you have been lately, learn to identify seizure triggers such as flashing or bright light and to avoid it, exercise regularly with safety in mind, always get enough rest or sleep and to learn how to keep stress low.

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