What is Epilepsy: Causes and risk factors


In the last few years, the Epilepsy has taken a stand. Consumption of alcohol can also trigger the condition. However, loss of sleep is the most prevailing factor. 
It is a nerve cell disorder. In Epilepsy, the electrical signals in the brain suddenly act out, causing seizures. It should be carefully diagnosed as every seizure is not a characteristic symptom. If an individual is attacked with two seizures continuously or have a seizure with a likelihood of the second one, then it can be diagnosed as Epilepsy. This affects the mental balance of the patient suddenly and starts to shock him. This disease can also lead to weakness or disability in the hands, feet, eyes of the patient.

The disease is mainly of four kinds. Generalized Epilepsy, Partial (Focal) Epilepsy, Absence Seizures, and Complex Partial Seizures. The patient in the last stage almost completely loses his mental balance.

Causes of Epilepsy

Genetic influence, brain conditions, infectious diseases, and disorders are various factors. Environmental factors can influence some genes and result in seizures. Brain conditions like head trauma, tumors, or strokes can also be a likely factor. Infectious diseases like AIDS, viral encephalitis, meningitis can also trigger seizures. Consumption of alcohol can also trigger seizures. Reflex Epilepsy is another form that triggers a seizure due to a specific activity. It includes ‘reading Epilepsy,’ ‘startle Epilepsy.’

Most affected group of Epilepsy

This disease can occur in any age group. It is common for children from birth to age 1. Babies are susceptible to brain damage due to factors like oxygen deficiencies, infections in the mother, and poor nutrition. It goes down in teens and adults and is highest in individuals aged above 55. If not treated in the early stages, then it can be life-threatening. Eight hours of sleep, regular exercise, and a nutritious diet is a necessity. Patients suffering from this disease are more likely to have seizures when they are tense.

Epilepsy can also affect dogs. If the seizures long for more than 5 minutes, then it is important to talk to a veterinarian. Update the veterinarian with the duration and frequency of seizures. Holding on to the dog is dangerous. Making sure the dog is aware of your presence is the first thing to do after a seizure. The common breeds prone to Epilepsy are Irish wolfhounds, English Springer Spaniels, Bernese mountain dogs, etc.

Can PTSD cause Epilepsy? 

Yes, PTSD and traumatic events can cause Epileptic seizures. Seizures can happen early after the injury or after a few days or a few weeks. Members of armed forces are vulnerable to post-traumatic Epilepsy. These seizures are a result of trauma, swelling, or bleeding in the brain. The scarring of the brain after treatment can be a reason as well.

Can affected individuals stay alone at home? 

Having Epilepsy does not mean he/she cannot live independently. Certain changes and precautions in the home can help through the seizures. A very important one is choosing an apartment without a staircase to avoid an accidental fall from the stairs-due to a seizure. The second important precaution is to pad the furniture to avoid accidental cuts during seizures.

If the seizures are uncontrollable, then carrying a pager to alert friends or family during a seizure is very important. The two rooms in a home than can physically hurt an individual during seizures are bathroom and kitchen. Use oven mitts, microwave, or electric stove for cooking in the kitchen and non-slip rugs. Do not lock the bathroom door. If you follow these measures, then you are good to go!

When can Epilepsy be fatal? 

Death due to Epilepsy is not common. The most well-known incident is the death of Disney star, Cameron Boyce. Even the most common way of death due to Epilepsy occurs in one individual over a range of 1000. This is usually called SUDEP i.e., Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy. The common factor is breath pauses or blockage of the airway during a seizure, which can be life-threatening. PTSD and traumatic events can also cause Epileptic seizures. Not treating the seizures in the early stages can turn out to have adverse effects.

Life expectancy

The risk factor of being affected is premature death. Based on a study, the reduction in life expectancy in individuals diagnosed with cryptogenic Epilepsy is two years. Whereas in symptomatic Epilepsy, it is ten years.

Diet factors

Following a balanced diet of the perfect amount of fats, carbohydrates, and proteins can prevent seizures. A ketogenic diet helps combat seizures.  However, there are specific foods that can trigger seizures. Consuming foods with added preservatives like MSG, alcohol, etc. can also trigger seizures. Grape juice and pomegranate juice do not trigger seizures but can make the side effects of Epilepsy medication more likely. Caffeine has a stimulating effect on CNS, and its role in Epilepsy is complex. Some studies suggest it can trigger a seizure; while others suggest they help in avoiding seizures.

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