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what is the Epilepsy

Epilepsy is a chronic neurological disorder that causes unprovoked, recurrent seizures. A seizure is usually defined as a sudden alteration of behavior due to a temporary change in the electrical functioning of the brain.

Anyone can develop epilepsy, but it’s more common in young children and older adults. It occurs slightly more in males than in females. There are two main types of seizures. Generalized seizures affect the whole brain and Focal (partial) seizures, affect just one part of the brain.

What are the causes of epilepsy?

The causes of epilepsy are divided into the following categories: structural, genetic, infectious, metabolic, immune and unknown. Examples include:

  • Certain genetic syndrome
  • Stroke due to lack of oxygen to the brain (leading epilepsy cause in over age 35)
  • Very high fever
  • Head trauma
  • Brain tumor or cyst
  • Very low blood sugar
  • Dementia or Alzheimer’s disease
  • Brain infections such as meningitis, encephalitis or neurocysticercosis
  • Congenital abnormalities or genetic conditions with associated brain malformations
  • Alcohol withdrawal

What are the types of epilepsy?

Seizures are the main symptom of epilepsy. Symptoms differ from person to person and according to the type of seizure.

Focal (partial) seizures

It doesn’t involve loss of consciousness. Symptoms include; alterations to sense of taste, smell, sight, hearing, or touch, dizziness, tingling and twitching of limbs

Generalized seizures

Generalized seizures involve the whole brain. There are six types:

Absence seizures, which used to be called “petit mal seizures,” cause a blank stare. This type of seizure may also cause repetitive movements like lip smacking or blinking. There’s also usually a short loss of awareness.

Tonic seizures cause muscle stiffness.

Atonic seizures lead to loss of muscle control and can make you fall down suddenly.

Clonic seizures are characterized by repeated, jerky muscle movements of the face, neck, and arms.

Myoclonic seizures cause spontaneous quick twitching of the arms and legs.

Tonic-clonic seizures used to be called “grand mal seizures.” Symptoms include; stiffening of the body, shaking, loss of bladder or bowel control, biting of the tongue and loss of consciousness.

What are the Facts & statistics about epilepsy?

Worldwide, around 60 million people have epilepsy, making it one of the most common neurological diseases globally. Nearly 80% of people with epilepsy live in low- and middle-income countries.

As many as link 500 genes may relate to epilepsy in some way. For most people, the risk of developing epilepsy before age 20 is about 1 percent. Having a parent with genetically linked epilepsy raises that risk to 2 to 5 percent. For people over age 35, a leading cause of epilepsy is stroke. Between 15 to 30 percent of children with intellectual disabilities have epilepsy. Between 30 and 70 percent of people who have epilepsy also have depression, anxiety, or both. Between 60 and 70 percent of people with epilepsy respond satisfactorily to the first anti-epilepsy drug they try. About 50 percent can stop taking medications after two to five years without a seizure. One-third of people with epilepsy have uncontrollable seizures because they haven’t found a treatment that works. More than half of people with epilepsy who don’t respond to medication improve with a ketogenic diet. Three quarters of people with epilepsy living in low-income countries do not get the treatment they need. References: Healthline.com , Who.int/news

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