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Epilepsy

Epilepsy Information for Men

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Updated January 04, 2007

Despite the fact that epilepsy is the most common of the neurological disorders it remains both feared and misunderstood. In epilepsy, the normal passage of electrical impulses in the brain is disrupted due to altered chemical states. The resulting disruption leads to scrambled electrical activity which can ultimately trigger a seizure. The terms seizure, fit and convulsion are often used to describe the same thing.

Roughly one person in every 200 will experience a seizure at some point in their life. Seizures can occur at any stage but are more common in the first 20 years of life and in elderly people. More than half of all those who develop epilepsy have their first attack by the age of 15.

Chronic epilepsy is the term used when seizures have continued for more than five years. Males tend to be more prone than females and the prevalence is roughly 30 per cent higher among people with learning difficulties.

Causes of Epilepsy
In around 60 per cent of cases, no cause can be identified. For the remaining 40 per cent, epilepsy is a symptom of some other cerebral cause, part of which is related to age, but which also include:

  • head injury

  • brain tumors

  • infections

  • Brain blood vessel diseases and bleeds
  • In babies, seizures often indicate that brain damage has occurred before or during birth. There is also some evidence that epilepsy can be inherited. Use of alcohol and drugs may also lead to seizures.

    Factors Triggering Epileptic Seizures
    Seizures can occur without warning but often there are some fairly common precipitating factors:

  • lack of sleep.

  • alcohol, particularly when related to lack of sleep.

  • stress

  • photosensitivity, as in flashing lights, for example.
  • Diagnostic Tests for Epilepsy
    It has to be remembered that we all have the potential to have seizures and that sometimes other conditions can resemble epilepsy. Diagnosis may initially take the form of observation and identification of unusual circumstances e.g. hunger, thirst, stress, general health, family history and past medical history.
    Other investigations could include:

  • Electroencephalogram. EEG is used to measure brain wave activity.

  • Videotelemetry, in which the patient is observed via continuous videotaped observation.

  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging. The MRI is a scanning technique.

  • Computerized Axial Tomography. CT pictures of the brain are taken at different levels.

  • Blood tests

  • Cerebral Angiography. Used to check for vascular abnormalities.

  • Echoencephalogram. Used to check for brain structure problems.

  • Skull roentgenogram. To check for fractures, bony erosions or calcification.
  • Drug Treatments for Epilepsy
    A single seizure does not require treatment but recurrent seizures would. Until the 1970s it was accepted practice to use polytherapy, that is, a cocktail of drugs. Monotherapy is more the accepted practice with the choice of drug being based upon assessment and diagnosis. Anti-epileptic drugs are divided into two groups:

    Medications include the following:
    Ethosuximide, phenytoin, lamotrigine, carbamezapine, sodium valporatepiracetam, primidone, acetazolamide, clobazam, clonazepam, gabpeutin, phenobarbitone, vigabatrin

    Video Link for Witnessing a Seizure: What You Should Do

    Article Source Includes: Center for Disease Control and Prevention

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