Epilepsy – Causes and Symptoms of Epilepsy

Epilepsy is a disorder of the brain that causes recurring seizures in the affected people. It is a common neurological disorder where the electrical activity of brain is disturbed. The signs and symptoms differ. While some people undergo a state of blank staring for few seconds. Others experience fits or convulsions.

A study in the United States revealed that an approximate of 1 in 100 people experience seizures in their lifetime. Occurrence of a single seizure doesn’t mean you have epilepsis. A minimum of two seizure attacks helps to diagnose epilepsis.

Causes of epilepsy

In some cases, the definite causes for Epilepsy cannot be identified. The condition can be traced only in few cases. The causes for epilepsy are:

  • Developmental disorders: Developmental disorders like down syndrome and autism are causes for epilepsis.
  • Prenatal injury: Incase there is an infection in the mother and oxygen or nutrition supply is low, fetus may develop brain damages. This leads to neurological disorders and about 20% seizures occur in children.
  • Diseases: Diseases like encephalitis, AIDS and meningitis cause epilepsy.
  • Dementia: It is a state of forgetfulness which is a leading cause of epilepsy among adults.
  • Medical disorders: Heart attacks and strokes result in brain damage that cause epilepsy. Half of the epileptic cases are due to strokes.
  • Head trauma: Traumatic injuries due to accidents may lead to epilepsy.
  • Genetic cause: Researchers studied that some 500 genes are linked with this condition. These genes are only a part of the cause making a person more susceptible to environmental conditions that lead to epilepsy.

Symptoms of Epilepsy

A seizure can affect any process associated with the brain. The seizures can produce the following symptoms

  • Complete loss of consciousness
  • Uncontrollable jerking movements of arms and legs
  • A staring spell
  • Temporary confusion

Seizures are classified into two types depending on the abnormal activity of brain. They are Partial seizures and Generalized seizures.

Partial seizures
If only a part of the brain is abnormal, it may result in partial or focal seizures. This is of two types – simple and complex partial seizures.

Simple partial seizures – Symptoms include:

  • Spontaneous sensory movements
  • Involuntary jerking of the body parts such as leg or arm
  • Change in emotions

Complex partial seizures – Symptoms include:

  • Non-purposeful and staring movements such as walking, swallowing, chewing and hand rubbing
  • Loss of awareness for a period of time

Generalized seizures
Generalized seizures are caused due to the abnormality of entire brain. This is of four types – Tonic-clonic seizures, atonic seizures, myoclonic seizures, absence seizures.

Tonic-clonic seizures – Symptoms include:

  • Loss of consciousness
  • Body stiffening and shaking
  • Loss of bladder control

Atonic seizures – Symptoms include:

  • Loss of normal muscle tone
  • Sudden fall down

Myoclonic seizures – Symptoms include:

  • Sudden jerks of arms
  • Sudden jerks of legs

Absence seizures
– Symptoms include:

  • Staring body movements
  • A short loss of consciousness

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