Almost 10 million people are affected with Epilepsy every year in India. Its prevalence is about 1% in our population. The primary symptom of epilepsy is a sudden uncontrolled electric current sensation in the neurons which in turn leads to seizures. In simpler terms, recurrent episodes of seizures are called epilepsy. The prevalence is observed to be higher in the rural population compared to the urban population.
In an exclusive interaction with OnlyMyHealth editorial team, Dr. Sudhakar Kasinathan, NeuroSurgeon, Fortis Hospital, Vadapalani explains that it can be cured if people take regular and correct dosage of the prescribed medicine and more so that people need not hide the condition.
Signs And Symptoms Of Epilepsy
Seizures being the main sign of epilepsy can look like staring spells. Others symptoms may cause a person to fall, shake or even lose awareness of what is happening around them for a brief period classifying it as generalised seizures and focal seizures; generalised condition is when the seizure affects both the sides of the brain and focal only affects one side of the brain which is also called as partial seizures.
Epilepsy can attack anyone; men, women and children of different age groups and background can develop epilepsy. During a seizure, while some just gaze mindlessly for a brief period of time, others may find themselves jerking their limbs and legs. A diagnosis would require two unprovoked seizures that occur at least 24 hours between each other.
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Treatment Of Epilepsy
Treatment with drugs or occasional surgery helps in controlling seizures. While some need ongoing medication to control their seizures, others may experience an end to their seizures. With time, epileptic youngsters may outgrow their condition and will be free from seizures. The treatment options of epilepsy include:
There are anti-seizure drugs / medicines that limit the spread of seizures in the brain. The dosage is prescribed depending on the intensity of the seizure. This is one of the most common prescribed treatments for those suffering.
When seizures occur in a single area of the brain it is called focal seizures. A resection surgery is suggested to remove epileptic foci in the brain. This helps in controlling the seizures in case it reoccurs. Epilepsy surgery is most commonly used when and only when the seizure focus is situated in the temporal lobe of the brain.
3. Other treatments
When medicines and surgery do not work, other treatments like vagus nerve stimulation are suggested. Here, an electric device is placed under the skin on the upper chest portion to send signals to a large nerve in the neck.
Healthy and Safety Concerns
Women who have epilepsy face challenges. Due to hormonal imbalance or changes that occur during their periods every month, and among pregnant ladies the effect lasts long. Some drugs may not suit the body condition of women and this may affect the child in pregnancy too. Talking to the doctor and explaining the condition works better as the doctor is aware of this and he would prescribe the dose of medicine accordingly. Oral contraceptive pills (OCP’s) can increase or decrease concentration of the drug, so doctor consultation is necessary to take OCP’s for an epileptic patient. Alcohol reduces the metabolism of the anti-epileptic drugs and should be taken with caution.
Most people with epilepsy live a full life. However the risk of early death is high among few. Those with serious epilepsy may develop tumours or stroke. These conditions also carry a higher risk of death. Falls or other injuries that happen because of seizures could cause injuries that can be life-threatening. The risk of sudden death is high only for people with major uncontrolled seizures.
The kind of seizures determine the specific symptoms. The symptoms will be the same ranging from one episode to another. In the majority of situations, a person with epilepsy experiences the same type of seizure every time. So timely diagnosis and treatment reduces the risk of the disease and the patient will have a healthy prolonged life span.