Epilepsy, also known as "seizure disorders," is the fourth most common neurological disorder. It is a group of related disorders characterized by sudden, unpredictable and recurrent seizures.
Seizures are one of the main symptoms of epilepsy, combined with other health or neurological problems. It affects people across all age groups, but mostly children and adults older than 65 years old.
The human brain is where epilepsy comes from. If two or more seizures started off in the brain, chances are it might be epilepsy. Although, it should be noted that only after a person has had more than one seizure can a diagnosis be performed.
Epilepsy is not the lone cause of seizures, sometimes other health conditions such as diabetes and heart diseases can also be the reason behind its occurrence.
There are varied types of seizures, in fact, more than 40 different types, but they are basically divided into two major classifications: generalized seizures and focal seizures or partial seizures.
In generalized seizures the whole brain or cortex area is involved. The person experiencing such a form of seizure may have their eyes open, lets out some sounds, becomes rigid or stiff for several seconds, and followed by rhythmic movements of the legs and arms, much like periodic twitches.
It might also appear that the person is out of breath or turning blue, and then they might take some noisy, deep gulps of breath. The rhythmic epileptic seizures tend to slow down before they stop entirely, before the person gradually returns to consciousness. One might experience recurring episodes of feeling confused that can range from minutes to hours.
In the case of focal or partial seizures, only a part of the brain is involved. Depending on which part is affected, the symptoms vary too. For instance, if the part of the brain that controls hand movements gets affected, then only the hands will twitch or show signs of rhythmic movements.
Other symptoms of partial seizures include the feeling of a full stomach, and repetitive movements such as constantly touching something or smacking lips. Even in this type of seizure, the person might appear confused or dazed.
Epilepsy drugs are prescribed to control seizures. The treatment is based upon evaluating varied factors such as the frequency of seizures, the severity of it, age factor, overall health status, medical record and family history.
In very rare cases, surgery is essential when the medications are ineffective. The accuracy of the diagnosis is vital in choosing the most appropriate treatment.