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Epilepsy is a disorder of the brain characterized by unprovoked and repeated seizures. A seizure is usually defined as a sudden alteration of behaviour due to a temporary change in the electrical functioning of the brain. Epilepsy is one of the most common neurological disorders that can affect anyone at any age. India has about a crore and more epilepsy patients and around 14 people per 1000 population are prone to suffer from epilepsy in India with relatively higher estimates in children and young adults.
Symptoms of epilepsy are as below:
- Uncontrollable jerking and shaking movements called as "fits”
- Stiffening of the body
- Loss of consciousness
- Breathing problems or breathing stops
- Appearing confused
- Loss of bladder or bowel control
- Not responding to noise or words briefly
- Periods of rapid eye blinking or staring
- Brain tumour
- Severe head injury
- Drug abuse or alcohol misuse
- Brain infection
- Lack of oxygen during birth
- Genetic disposition
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Frequently Asked Questions
Are there different kinds of seizures?
Yes, there are many kinds of seizures sub-categorized as generalized and focal (or partial) seizures. Generalized seizures involve the entire brain – these include absence seizures and tonic-clonic/convulsive seizures, which people often imagine when they think of epilepsy. Focal seizures, on the other hand, only involve one part of the brain – these include simple partial seizures and complex partial seizures.
How is epilepsy diagnosed?
Epilepsy is diagnosed by a physician where they may ask questions about the seizure such as what happened before, during, and after it. An electroencephalogram (EEG) test is used to measure the electrical activity in the brain. Additional imaging tests such as MRIs and/or CT/CAT scans might be utilized as well.
How to help someone with epilepsy?
Epilepsy First Aid – While you wait for emergency personnel to arrive, you may:
- Lay the person down with a cushion on their head and turn them onto their side to clear their airway
- Loose the person’s clothing, especially around the neck
- Keep other people out of the way
- Clear hard or sharp objects away from the person
- Don't try to hold them down or stop the movements
- Look at your watch at the start of the seizure, to time its length
- Don't put anything in their mouth