Worldwide, over 65 million individuals have some form of epilepsy. Still, this medical disorder is often misunderstood. Many individuals think of epilepsy as simply involving seizures, but there are actually a dozen types of the disorder, with different kinds of seizures or abnormal brain activity. The causes of epilepsy are also wide and varied, as is the duration of the disorder in individuals. While some grow out of epilepsy as a child, others have it throughout their lives. Fortunately, there is a large variety of ways that individuals treat and handle epilepsy, and most individuals can lead normal lives. The knowledge of the disorder continues to be researched by doctors and scientists to promote awareness and increase people's understanding around the globe.
Causes of Epilepsy
There are many potential causes of epilepsy. Some individuals may develop epilepsy from genetics, especially if a relative suffered from the disease. Others begin to see signs of epilepsy after suffering a severe brain injury or infection. Young children may experience epilepsy due to structural changes in their brain, with the disorder fading away as their bodies develop. Elderly individuals may start to have seizures after suffering from a stroke or other similar brain damage.
Epilepsy may also develop if an individual suffers from other kinds of medical disorders or conditions. This is commonly found in people who have more severe cases of autism or diabetes. Moreover, those who suffer from alcohol or drug addiction may start to suffer from epilepsy if they stop abusing these substances, with seizures being a symptom of withdrawal. Still, epilepsy may appear in individuals who have experienced none of the above causes, making the disorder still a mystery to many doctors and scientists.
Signs and Symptoms of Epilepsy
The signs and symptoms of epilepsy are wide and varied. As mentioned previously, many people associate epilepsy as just seizures with lots of jerking movement. While these are certainly extremely common in epilepsy, there are plenty of other signs and symptoms of the disease as well. These include:
- Blurry vision
- Staring blankly for a short period
- Temporary confusion
- Loss of consciousness
- Change in taste and smell
- Inability to speak
- Pins and needles feeling in hands or feet
- Rapid blinking
- Stiffening of the muscles
- Loss of bladder
There are also many different types of seizures or abnormal brain activity that can occur. A generalized seizure affects both parts of the brain, while focal seizures affect just one part of the brain. The types of symptoms that one may experience during either type of seizure vary by the individual. Regardless, individuals who experience either kind of seizure may experience exhaustion or confusion after suffering an episode.
Treating and Handling Epilepsy
Fortunately, there are many ways to treat and handle epilepsy. Most individuals with epilepsy take medication to control their seizures, with some individuals quitting their medicine after being seizure-free for two years or more. Some individuals with more severe forms of the disorder undergo surgery, where surgeons remove the parts of the brain that cause seizures or other abnormal brain activity.
Others prefer less medically-focused treatments, including taking certain types of vitamins, herbs or following a strict diet. These are less normalized than typical medication, though individuals with less severe cases of epilepsy may benefit from these kinds of treatments. Better yet, other individuals may try different types of professional care, including visiting a chiropractor, getting acupuncture or receiving regular massages. In the end, every individual with epilepsy should choose what works and is most comfortable for them.