Epilepsy FAQ: What is epilepsy?
Epilepsy is a neurological disorder in which patient suffers from seizures/fits (abnormal shaky/jerky movements of the arms/legs), staring gaze, uprolling of eyes, & sometimes, loss of consciousness.
What are the causes/triggers of epilepsy?
In some of the cases, the causative factor for epilepsy is not known. In others, the genetic causes, trauma, stroke, brain tumors, brain infections etc may be the reason for epilepsy in some patients.
What are the signs/symptoms of epilepsy?
- Abnormal body movements – Seizures/fits
- Uprolling of eyes
- Staring gaze
- Frothing from mouth
- Involuntary passage of urine/stools
- Loss of consciousness for few minutes
- Temporary confusion
Does epilepsy cause brain damage?
It is not yet been established if epilepsy damages the brain or not. However, if the seizure is caused due to underlying brain abnormalities, then it is possible.
How is epilepsy diagnosed?
The diagnosis of epilepsy is primarily based on typical presenting complaints. Further diagnosis is supported with the help of EEG (electroencephalography). CT/MRI brain is done to rule out underlying abnormalities of brain leading to seizure activity. Some blood tests are done to detect metabolic disturbance. More imaging tests/lab tests may be done, to find out the underlying disease.
Can epilepsy be prevented?
In majority of cases, epilepsy is not preventable. But chances of epilepsy can be reduced by preventing the preventable causes. These include:
- Excellent pre-natal care
- Reduce the chance of traumatic head injuries
- Reduce the possibility of occurrence of stroke
- Genetic counselling
Who treats epilepsy?
Brain specialists (neurologists) treat this disease. For children suffering from epilepsy, pediatric neurologists treat epilepsy.
Can epilepsy be cured?
Currently there is no cure for epilepsy. However, if seizures occur because of any treatable cause, it can be cured by curing the underlying cause. Many researches are going on for best treatment of the disease.
How is epilepsy treated?
- Anti-epileptic drugs, AED drugs are the most commonly used.
- Brain-surgery is performed on some patients
What is ketogenic diet?
Ketogenic diet is high fat, low carbohydrates, adequate proteins diet, which is recommended for a set of patients of epilepsy. It is considered to be beneficial.
Can epilepsy be fatal?
Sometimes, yes. Sudden and unexpected deaths due to epilepsy are fatal complications of the same.
Is any age group more likely to develop epilepsy?
Epilepsy is most likely to affect children, especially during the first year of their lives. It must be noted that these are new cases of epilepsy.
Can women with epilepsy have children? What precautions should pregnant women take?
Yes. They should however consult an expert before planning on conceiving. Pregnant women should understand that if they have epilepsy, the babies born have a higher risk of developing the same. Before conceiving, they should consult an expert. They should also lead a healthy lifestyle, which includes getting enough sleep, taking prenatal vitamins and avoiding alcohol and smoking.