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Epilepsy is a neurological disorder in which brain activity becomes abnormal and usually causes a seizure. These seizures start without warning and they are different for every person. Anyone can have epilepsy no matter the race, gender, or age. Epilepsy causes many symptoms. Since epilepsy is caused by abnormal activity in the brain, seizures can affect any process your brain coordinates. Seizure symptoms can include temporary confusion, a staring spell, uncontrollable jerking movements of the arms and legs, loss of consciousness or awareness, and psychic symptoms such as fear, anxiety or deja vu.
Symptoms vary depending on the type of seizure. In most cases, a person with epilepsy will tend to have the same type of seizure each time, so the symptoms will be similar each time. These seizures classify as either focal or generalized. It is based on how the abnormal brain activity begins. Focal seizures result from abnormal activity in just one area of your brain. Focal seizures fall into two categories, focal seizures without loss of consciousness and focal seizures with impaired awareness. Focal seizures without loss of consciousness may alter the person’s emotions or the way things look, smell, taste, or sound. This kind of seizure may also cause jerking of the arms and legs. Doctors do many tests to decide what kind of epilepsy you may have. These tests include a neurological exam and a blood test.
A neurological exam is used to test your behavior, motor abilities, and mental function to diagnose your condition and determine the type of epilepsy. Blood samples are taken to check for signs of infections, genetic conditions or other conditions that may be associated with seizures. Other tests are used to detect brain abnormalities.
An Electroencephalogram (EEG) is the most common test used to diagnose epilepsy. In this test, doctors attach electrodes to your scalp with a paste-like substance. The electrodes record the electrical activity of your brain. Other tests to diagnose this disorder include a high-density EEG, computerized tomography (CT) scan, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and functional MRI (fMRI). Neuropsychological tests are when doctors assess your thinking, memory and speech skills. There are also test to find where in the brain seizures start.
Statistical parametric mapping (SPM) compares areas of the brain that have increased metabolism during seizures to normal brains, which can give doctors an idea of where seizures begin.Treatment for this disorder includes medication and possibly surgery. If medications don’t work, doctors may suggest surgery or another type of treatment. Most people with epilepsy can become seizure-free by the anti-seizure medication, which is also called anti-epileptic medication. Others may be able to decrease the intensity of their seizures by taking a combination of medications. Though there are symptoms that may come along with the medicine which include, fatigue, dizziness, weight gain, loss of bone density, skin rashes loss of coordination, speech problems, and memory and thinking problems. More severe side effects include depression, suicidal thoughts and behaviors, severe rashes, and inflammation of certain organs, such as your liver. Though these side effects are very rare. When medications fail your doctor may suggest surgery.
In this epilepsy surgery, a surgeon removes the area of your brain that’s causing seizures.Doctors only usually perform surgery when tests show that either your seizures originate in a small, well-defined area of your brain and when the area in your brain to be operated on doesn’t interfere with main functions.
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