National Epilepsy Day: All you want to know about managing epilepsy

  • National Epilepsy Day: Epilepsy commonly diagnosed in children is a neurological disorder where brain activity becomes abnormal and leads to seizures or periods of unusual behaviour or loss of awareness.
National Epilepsy Day is observed on November 17(Shutterstock)
National Epilepsy Day is observed on November 17(Shutterstock)
Published on Nov 17, 2021 01:09 PM IST
Copy Link | Edited by Parmita Uniyal

National Epilepsy Day: Epilepsy is a neurological disorder in which brain activity becomes abnormal and leads to seizures. If you notice anyone who suddenly feels disoriented, lose focus for a few minutes and then feel tired post that, it could be an epileptic attack and urgent medical attention is needed for that person.

While 50 million people worldwide are affected by epilepsy, India accounts for nearly 10-20 percent (5-10 million) of the global burden of epilepsy.

On the occasion of National Epilepsy Day (November 17), Dr Rima Chaudhari, Consultant-Neurology, Fortis Hospital, Mulund, shares facts about this noncommunicable disease of the brain and ways to manage it.

ALSO READ: Epilepsy: Decoding the role of the brain in the disease

"In an epileptic condition, the abnormal and excessive electrical activity of the brain causes seizures, unusual behavior, sensations, and sometimes loss of awareness. Some people simply stare blankly for a few seconds during a seizure, while some get repeated twitching of arms or legs. Having a single seizure doesn't necessarily mean you have epilepsy. At least two unprovoked seizures are generally required for an epilepsy diagnosis, says Dr Chaudhari.

During a seizure, awareness and responsiveness are impaired and people who have them usually don't realize what's happening to them. There is no warning before a seizure, and the person is completely alert immediately afterward, according to Dr Chaudhari.

A common condition in children

Epilepsy is commonly diagnosed in children and can be confused with other conditions. An accurate diagnosis is essential. Seizures usually respond well to medication and most children with epilepsy will enjoy a normal and active childhood.

"Get proper sleep, avoid triggers and take medicines on time to avoid seizures. The impact of epilepsy will vary for every person. Remember to keep a balance between protecting your loved one and encouraging their independence," says Dr Chaudhari.

Difference between focal and generalized seizures

Epileptic seizures can be either be focal or generalized depending on where the abormal brain activity begins. When the seizure occurs only in one area of your brain, it is called focal seizure. Focal seizures without loss of consciousness may alter emotions or sensations transiently, lead to involuntary jerking or tingling in a body part, dizziness, or flashing lights. In another type of focal seizures there is impaired awareness and the affected person may stare into space or not respond normally or perform repetitive movements such as hand rubbing, chewing, swallowing, or walking in circles

Generalized seizures on the other hand involve all areas of the brain.

* Absence seizures are characterized by transient staring into space or subtle body movements such as eye blinking or lip-smacking while tonic seizures cause stiffening of muscles and may cause fall to the ground.

* Atonic seizures, also known as drop seizures, cause a loss of muscle control, which may cause a fall.

* Clonic seizures are associated with repeated or rhythmic, jerking muscle movements of the neck, face, and arms.

* Myoclonic seizures usually appear as sudden brief jerks or twitches of arms and legs.

* Tonic-Clonic seizures are the most dramatic type of epileptic seizure and can cause an abrupt loss of consciousness, body stiffening, shaking, and sometimes loss of bladder control or biting of the tongue

Epilepsy management: Things to remember

* Epilepsy is a controllable condition

* Epilepsy is not a mental illness

* If you witness an attack, note the details as an accurate description prevents the wrong diagnosis

* Early treatment is key

* The drugs prescribed have to be taken regularly. Do not miss any dose.

* The duration of treatment generally is 2 to 5 years after the last attack

* Restrictions for a person with epilepsy are very few. Make sure to sleep adequately. Patients can study, work and enjoy life

* Women with epilepsy can marry and bear children

* Treat epilepsy as you would treat asthma, headaches. Do not overprotect nor ostracise

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Friday, December 03, 2021