Epilepsy affects the brain, causing repeated and uncontrollable surges of electrical activity resulting in alteration in brain function and, ultimately, seizures.
Having a seizure does not necessarily mean a person has epilepsy and sometimes these seizures can be one-offs. Epilepsy can start at any age, but it is more prevalent among children and the elderly.
GlobMed continues to work hard to find the very best in neuro-paediatrics ensuring you and your child get access to the highest quality care. We have specialists that can help in initial diagnosis, continued treatment or novel treatments in uncontrolled epilepsy.
We can arrange consultations to discuss the effect epilepsy has on you or your child’s life and the impact a diagnosis can have, helping you manage each day. In addition, our network has access to state-of-the-art MRI and CT scanners and world-class testing labs encompassing pathology and genetic labs.
What Are The Different Types Of Epilepsy?
Each person’s experience with epilepsy is unique, and not all cases fit neatly into the predetermined categories.
In this type of epilepsy, seizures involve both sides of the brain from the beginning. There are different subtypes of generalised epilepsy, including:
- Tonic-Clonic Seizures: Formerly known as grand mal seizures, these seizures cause loss of consciousness, stiffening of the body (tonic phase), and rhythmic jerking of the limbs (clonic phase).
- Absence Seizures: Also called petit mal seizures, these brief episodes cause a person to stare blankly into space and may appear as if they are daydreaming.
Focal (Partial) Epilepsy
Focal seizures originate in one specific area of the brain and may affect consciousness or awareness. Subtypes of focal epilepsy include:
- Focal Onset Aware Seizures: These seizures do not cause loss of consciousness. The person remains aware of their surroundings but may experience unusual sensations, emotions, or movements.
- Focal Onset Impaired Awareness Seizures: These seizures result in altered consciousness, and the person may not fully remember the seizure afterwards.
This type of epilepsy typically occurs in infants and young children, causing brief, but often frequent, episodes of sudden muscle contractions.
This is a severe form of epilepsy that usually develops during early childhood. It involves multiple seizure types, intellectual disability, and abnormal EEG patterns.
This is a rare, genetic form of epilepsy that begins in infancy and is often associated with fever-related seizures.
Juvenile Myoclonic Epilepsy
Juvenile Myoclonic Epilepsy typically begins in adolescence and is characterised by myoclonic jerks, which are sudden muscle twitches.
How Is Epilepsy Treated?
The diagnosis and treatment of epilepsy require careful evaluation by a qualified healthcare professional, including a neurologist with expertise in epilepsy. Treatment options may include medications, lifestyle modifications, and, in some cases, surgical interventions.
The most common approach to treating epilepsy is through anti-seizure medications. These medications work by stabilising the brain’s electrical activity, reducing the likelihood of seizures. The choice of medication depends on the individual’s specific type of epilepsy and how they respond to the treatment.
In some cases, a high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet known as the ketogenic diet may be recommended, especially for children or individuals with certain types of epilepsy that are hard to manage with medications. The diet has shown positive effects in reducing seizures and is typically supervised by a dietitian.
Vagus Nerve Stimulation
For those who don’t respond well to medications, Vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) is a treatment option. This involves implanting a device similar to a pacemaker under the skin to stimulate the vagus nerve and help control seizures.
Another newer option is responsive neurostimulation (RNS), which involves a device placed in the brain to detect abnormal electrical activity and deliver small electrical pulses to interrupt seizures.
In cases where seizures are localized to a specific area of the brain and not well controlled with medication, epilepsy surgery might be an option. This involves removing or disconnecting the brain tissue responsible for the seizures.
Lifestyle changes can also play a role in managing epilepsy. Maintaining regular sleep patterns, avoiding triggers (if identified), managing stress, and limiting alcohol consumption can all be beneficial.
Frequently Asked Questions
At the moment - no. Epilepsy is considered a chronic condition, but, with appropriate management, a person with epilepsy can live a fulfilling life with little to no seizure activity.