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Epilepsy

epilepsyEpilepsy is a neurological condition, meaning a tendency to have recurrent seizure. Those seizures can take many forms, not just the falling on the ground and shaking variety. A seizure is caused by over-activity of electricity in the brain, which disturbs the brain’s normal function.
There are many types of seizures, and different people have different types – some my have more than one type. According to the type of seizure, it will manifest itself in different ways. People may collapse to the ground and go stiff and/or shake (convulsions), they may appear to stare into space, or they may just experience strange sensations of deja vu – or a host of other symptoms.
The tendency to have seizures can be caused by a number of different things – but for many people the cause remains a mystery.

A Few Facts

Approximately 1 person in 100 in the USA has epilepsy.
You cannot catch epilepsy

1 person in 30 may have a seizure at some time in their life. On its own this is not epilepsy – the tendency to have recurrent seizures
One in four feels the need to conceal their epilepsy from their employer

About 25% of people treated with drugs continue to have seizures of some form

Epilepsy is a neurological condition, not a mental illness

Types of Seizure

There are about forty different types of seizure. Some people may have more than one type at once, or switch around. I used to get auras, then I had one tonic clonic, then I went back to auras again. As well as manifesting themselves in different ways, they can be triggered by a variety of things – stress, alcohol, just happen, and for a small number of people they can be triggered by flashing lights and the like.

A Word on Video Games

Video games may trigger seizures in people who tend to get seizures when they see flashing lights or similar, but they cannot cause epilepy itself – the tendency to have the seizures has to be there already, even if it has never come out before.
Not everybody with epilepsy is sensitive to this stimulus, in fact a relatively small proportion is, but for them seizures can be triggered by strobe lights, the sun between rows of trees and so forth.

Treatments

There are a number of treatments for epilepsy. They are mentioned below:

Drugs

Probably the most widely used treatement. There are a number of Anti Epilepsy Drugs (AEDs), and some drugs are more suitable to the various types of seizure. Above all it’s an individual thing. It’s a question of finding which drug combination and amount is right for you. For many, drug treatment works extremely well – even if not completely freeing them of seizures, then at least reducing their impact.

Names you may well hear include phenytoin, tegretol, vigabatrin, sodium valproate, etc. Many drugs have side effects these vary from drug to drug and person to person. Tiredness, affected vision, hair loss, hairyness, weight loss, weight gain and gum decay are just some of the symptoms that have been noted. Again – it’s an individual thing.

Surgery

Another possibility for some people is surgery. This involves removing a part of the brain where the seizure is starting off. This isn’t done lightly, and is only done if the start of seizures can be traced to a locality. Various tools are used to help do this – including a sort of probe that is inserted into the brain.

Many people achieve really good results with surgery, but obviously it should not be taken lightly. As with any operation there are some risks involved, however slight. These should of course be discussed with a qualified person.

Alternative Treatments

Various other approaches have been tried. Some people have found success via yoga, which involves a series of positions (or asanas) and breathing exercises (pranayana). Taken to the full extent it also includes things such as a wholefood diet etc. Even if you do not have epilepsy yoga should only be done with the help of a qualified teacher

Another approach is the ketogenic diet. This is a very rigorously calculated diet high in fat and low in protein and carbohydrate. Find someone qualified to tell you more about it – or do a search on the Net.

Some people find aromatherapy helpful. This uses the smell of certain oils to help invoke certain states of mind. Again, care is needed, as certain oils are noted for actually triggering seizures in those prone to them.

New treatments come out all the time, and there is even one whereby you can press a button every time you feel a seizure coming on, and it sends an electric current to a nerve, which in some people can help stop the seizure from progressing. Above all – it’s different strokes for different folks – certain treatments will work for one person, but not for another with what may appear similar conditions.

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