Epilepsy is a disease of the central nervous system . It is characterized by an alteration in brain activity, which causes the appearance of involuntary phenomena in the body accompanied by the affectation of the state of consciousness . It is important to clarify that epilepsy is not a condition, nor a syndrome or disease, which rules out the idea of possible contagion to another person who belongs to their environment.
For both the person who suffers from epilepsy and those who live with one, there are some questions that serve to help detect when the victim is about to have an attack, so it is important to be aware of situations such as sudden mental confusion or infantile behavior , movements such as chewing without anything in the mouth or consecutively opening and closing the eyes, as well as tiredness, weakness, fever, convulsions and the impossibility of carrying on a conversation.
What is the cause of epilepsy?
Epilepsy is a complex disorder. People with this disorder often have areas of their brain where neurons are activated and abnormally maintain electrical activity that does not respond to the regulatory mechanisms available to the nervous system.
After this activation, an action associated with the function performed by these neurons is performed. For example, in the case of neurons that regulate movements, when they are activated by the effect of an epilepsy crisis, involuntary movements occur. It is often said that they are involuntary because the person does not have the ability at that moment to initiate or prevent such movements.
This abnormal activation of neurons can occur for many reasons. Factors such as infections, traumas, strokes, hemorrhages or even metabolic changes such as hypoglycemia are factors that can trigger these crises. Seizures triggered by very high fever are well known in children.
Epilepsy and seizure: is it the same?
Epilepsy and seizure are not the same thing. Although both have similar symptoms, they are different entities.
The seizure occurs from an abnormal and paroxysmal activation of an area of the brain, however, this activation is not exclusive to the motor areas. A seizure can manifest itself in the face of any type of activity: the perception of an odor, a visual image, a sound, loss of consciousness without movement, loss of muscle tone and consequent fall or even another type of a seizure known as absence, in which the person is simply apathetic for a period of time, but then recovers quickly and goes on doing what he was doing without noticing anything.
What differentiates the appearance of a seizure from epilepsy is that in the second there is a permanent predisposition throughout life to cause seizures and that almost always involve two facts: loss of consciousness and motor manifestations, especially with sudden and involuntary jolts of the muscles. Since the bowel and bladder have sphincters that hold their contents – and these structures are muscles – it is possible that they lose their function during attacks causing the person to urinate and evacuate without meaning to or being aware of it. After an epileptic fit, a person becomes very exhausted and tired and knows that something has happened to them.
How can it be treated?
The specialist physician who treats epilepsy is the neurologist. The main treatment strategy for this disease is through the use of medication, which generally must be used for life. In some cases, in order to adequately control this disorder, combinations of different drugs are used.
There are some cases where the most appropriate treatment is surgery, these correspond to patients who cannot adequately control the disease with medication. It is estimated that this occurs in approximately 25% of people with epilepsy. This surgery consists of removing the area of the brain from which epileptic focuses originate, which can completely cure the disease in a large number of cases.