Epilepsy is a long-term disease that causes repeated seizures due to abnormal electrical signals produced by damaged brain cells. A burst of uncontrolled electrical activity within brain cells causes a seizure
Dr G. V. Subbaiah Chowdhary , Senior Consult says, “Epilepsy is the most common chronic brain disease and affects people of all ages. More than 50 million people worldwide have epilepsy; nearly 80% of them live in low- and middle-income countries. It is estimated that the overall prevalence of epilepsy in India is 5.59-10 per 1000. People with epilepsy are at risk for two life-threatening conditions: tonic-clonic status epilepticus and sudden unexplained death in epilepsy (SUDEP).”
Signs and Symptoms may include:
– Jerking movements of the arms and legs.
– Stiffening of the body.
– Loss of consciousness.
– Loss of bowel or bladder control.
– Falling suddenly for no apparent reason, especially when associated with loss of consciousness.
Before Seizures some people may experience aura or warning signs:
– a general strange feeling that’s difficult to describe.
– “rising” feeling in your tummy
– feeling that events have happened before (déjà vu)
– unusual smells or tastes.
– tingling in your arms and legs.
Causes of Epilepsy
“Children and older adults are more likely to have epilepsy because risk factors are more common in these groups. These include stroke, head injury, childbirth complications, infections (like meningitis or cysticercosis), and some genetic disorders. Often, no definite cause can be found,” adds Dr G. V. Subbaiah.
What Causes Epilepsy?
Dr G. V. Subbaiah shares the most of the time (in up to 70% of cases), the cause of seizures is not known. Known causes include:
– Genetics. Some types of epilepsy (like juvenile myoclonic epilepsy and childhood absence epilepsy) are more likely to run in families (inherited). Although there’s some evidence that specific genes are involved, the genes only increase the risk of epilepsy, and other factors may be involved. There are certain epilepsies that result from abnormalities that affect how brain cells can communicate with each other and can lead to abnormal brain signals and seizures.
– Mesial temporal sclerosis. This is a scar that forms in the inner part of your temporal lobe that can give rise to focal seizures.
– Head injuries.Head injuries can result from vehicular accidents, falls or any blow to the head.
– Brain infections. Infections can include brain abscess meningitis ,encephalits and neurocysticercosis.
– Immune disorders.Conditions that cause your immune system to attack brain cells (also called autoimmune diseases) can lead to epilepsy.
– Developmental disorders. Birth abnormalities affecting the brain are a frequent cause of epilepsy, particularly in people whose seizures aren’t controlled with anti-seizure medications. Some birth abnormalities known to cause epilepsy include focal cortical dysplasia, polymicrogyria and tuberous sclerosis.
– Metabolic disorders. People with a metabolic condition can have epilepsy.
– Brain conditions and brain vessel abnormalities. Brain health issues that can cause epilepsy include brain tumors,strokes,dementia and abnormal blood vessels, such as arteriovenous malformations.