Everything You Need To Know About Epilepsy

Overview | Types | Causes | Symptoms | Risks factors | Diagnosis | Treatment Diagnosis | Diet |

What is epilepsy?

Epilepsy is a chronic neurological or central nervous system disorder, which includes two or more two seizure attacks, abnormal behavior, sensation, loss of awareness, and unusual behavior sometimes. In epilepsy, a sudden and recurrent rush of electrical activity, called seizure occurs. It affects the brain’s normal functions.

Anyone can develop epilepsy regardless of age, gender etc. Seizure is the most prominent part and symptom of epilepsy.

There are two prominent types of seizure — Generalized and focal. Generalized seizures affects the whole brain, whereas focal seizures affects just one part of the brain. Focal seizures also called partial seizures.

Epilepsy attacks can lasts from few seconds to few minutes. Mild seizure doesn’t affect much badly, you can just lost your awareness during mild seizure. Stronger seizure attacks lasts more than mild ones, you may experience uncontrollable muscle twitches, spasms, and unconsciousness. After the seizure attack, you don’t even remember that you had an attack. It occurs slightly more in men than women.

There is no permanent cure found till date, but you can minimize your risks of getting epilepsy by following some strategies and medications.

Types of epilepsy:

Prominently, there are there types of seizure (that cause epilepsy):

  • Partial seizure — It occurs when the epileptic activity takes place in one part of the brain. It’s two types are –
  • Simple partial seizure: In this the patient is fully consciousness while suffering a seizure attack.
  • Complex partial seizure: In this the patient is unconscious and unaware of having a seizure attack.
  • Generalized seizure: It occurs when the epileptic activity affects your whole brain and not any particular part. It’s subtypes are —
  • Tonic – clinic seizures
  • Tonic seizures
  • Clinic seizures
  • Atomic seizures
  • Absence seizures
  • Myoclonic seizures
  • Secondary generalized seizures – In this, the epileptic activity starts as a partial seizure but spreads in the whole brain. As this seizure progresses, the patient will lose his/her consciousness.

Causes of epilepsy:

Almost all the conditions that can affect your brain can cause epilepsy. Some of them are as follows —

  • Brain tumour
  • Serious illness or very high fever
  • Traumatic brain injury or head injury
  • Vascular diseases
  • AIDS
  • Brain malformations
  • Loss of oxygen to the brain
  • Stroke
  • Brain cyst
  • Brain infections due to virus, bacteria and malaria
  • Developmental conditions, such as autism
  • Some genetic disorders such as down syndrome
  • Prenatal injury or brain damage before birth
  • Some neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s
  • Genetic factors

Fact: Among every 2 in 3 people, the cause of epilepsy is unknown, this epilepsy is called idiopathic.

Children under 2 years and old aged people over 65 years are more likely to get epilepsy.

Factors that can trigger the epileptic seizure:

  • Illness
  • Fever
  • Stress
  • Lack of sleep
  • Very bright lights
  • Patterns
  • Certain medications and drugs
  • Caffeine
  • Certain food ingredients

Symptoms of epilepsy:

First aid in the park

Symptoms differ from person to person and according to the types of seizure.

Partial seizure symptoms

  • Simple partial seizure–
  •  Change in sense of taste, smell, hearing and sight.
  • Twitches of limb
  • Dizziness
  • Complex partial seizure –
  •  Staring in blank
  • Unresponsiveness
  •  Performing repetitive movements

Generalized seizure symptoms

Its six subtypes are:

  • Absence seizure –
  • Staring in blank
  • Repetitive movements
  • Short loss of awareness
  • Tonic seizures –
  • Muscle stiffness
  • Atonic seizures –
    • Loss of muscle control
    • The patient may fall suddenly
  • Clonic seizures –
    • Jerky and repeated movements of face, neck, and arm.
  • Myoclonic seizures –
  • Spontaneous twitching of leg and arms
  • Tonic-clonic seizure –
    • Loss of bowel control
    • Shaking
    • Unconsciousness
    • Stiffening of the body
    • Tongue biting

Risks factors:

  • Age
  • Family History
  • Head injury
  • Brain Injury or tumour
  • Vascular disease
  • Stroke
  • Dementia
  • Brain infection
  • Seizures in childhood etc.


  • Car accidents
  • Trauma
  • Drowning
  • Falling
  • Emotional health issues
  • Pregnancy confusions
  • Sudden unexpected death in epilepsy
  • Status epilepticus etc.


First of all, your doctor will ask you about your medical history and especially about previous seizures attacks with their symptoms and timings.

Then your doctor can conduct some tests to diagnose the actual condition. Some of the tests are —

  • EEG – To detect any abnormal brainn waves
  • CT and MRI scan – To detect any structural irregularities, such as tumours
  • MRI (functional) scan – To detect the abnormal and normal functioning of brain in some specific areas.  
  • Single photon – emission CT scan – It enables doctors to find the exact original site of seizure in the brain.
  • Magnetoencephelogram – It enables us to identify the irregularities in the brain functions using magnetic signals.
  • Blood test – To identify the underlying conditions behind the cause of epilepsy
  • Neurological tests – to identify the type of epilepsy a person has.

Treatment of epilepsy:

Your treatment plan will be based on the severity of your epilepsy, your health conditions, and your respond towards therapy.  

Some of the treatment options includes:

  • Anti – epileptic drugs — If you take these medications as it’s prescribed, then your seizure attacks will reduce for sure. In some people, it can even eliminate seizure attacks.
  • The ketogenic diet — It is proved that this high fat and low carbohydrates diet is effective to control epilepsy, even in those patients who didn’t respond to medications.
  • Brain surgery — Through this, one can remove the seizure causing part of the brain.
  • Vagus nerve stimulator — This device can be used to prevent seizures. It is placed under the skin, near your chest. It stimulates the nerves that run through your neck to prevent seizure attacks.

Medications – Anti-seizure drugs can be helpful to control seizure attacks. Some of them are –

  1. Topiramate
  2. Valproic acid
  3. Lamotrigine etc.

These medications should be consumed as prescribed by the doctor.

One should not consume it more than prescribed, as it can show some side effects like — skin rash, fatigue, dizziness, poor coordination, and memory problems.

Prevention and management tips:

  • Sometimes, pregnancy can result in epilepsy. To avoid this, follow a prenatal care plan with your healthcare provider.
  • Prevent accidents, brain injuries, etc. that can cause epilepsy
  • Be up–to–date on your vaccination.
  • Maintain hygiene
  • Take your medicines on time
  • Recognize Your trigger of seizure and try to avoid it.
  • Maintain stress
  • Get enough sleep
  • Keep a record of your seizure attacks


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