A diagnosis of epilepsy is often a blessing and a curse for patients and their families. On the one hand, they finally have an explanation for the unpredictable seizures, but on the other this condition comes with many stigmas that can lead to anxiety and depression in the patient and their loved ones.
There is hope for epilepsy patients, because talented neurologists like those at KCA Neurology have been researching the disease tirelessly for decades. Their work has resulted in some truly effective treatments with fewer side effects than older treatments.
What Causes Epilepsy?
Epilepsy is characterized by permanent changes in brain tissues causing the brain to be overly excitable, even jumpy. Abnormal neural signals are sent out, causing repeated, unpredictable seizures.
There are many known causes of epilepsy, but in some cases the cause is unknown. Common causes are:
- Infections, such as brain abscess, encephalitis, meningitis, or AIDS
- Brain tumor
- Traumatic brain injury
- Congenital defects of the brain or metabolism
- Brain injuries incurred during or shortly after birth
- Abnormal brain blood vessels
This is in no way an exhaustive list, so patients experiencing multiple seizures should immediately contact a physician and neurologist to get a diagnosis as soon as possible. With the variety of treatments available, no one should have to suffer with this debilitating condition.
The Symptoms of Epilepsy
Every patient will present their own unique set of symptoms, as is often the case in diagnosing neural diseases. There is a commonly held misconception that epileptic seizures consist of loss of consciousness accompanied by convulsions, yet many symptoms exist.
These range from staring spells, often unnoticed by the patient, to violent shaking episodes, and a loss of alertness. The type of seizure a patient may experience depends on the area of the brain affected by the condition.
How Epilepsy Is Diagnosed
A physical examination of the patient accompanied with a comprehensive look at the brain and nervous system is always the first step to treatment. Checking the electrical activity of the brain with an electroencephalogram (EEG) is often the first step.
Other tests that may be done are:
- Complete blood count
- Blood sugar
- Blood chemistry
- Kidney and liver function tests
The goal for every epilepsy treatment plan is, “no seizures, no side effects,” and while this might not be immediately achievable, it should be the long-term aim of all patients and their physicians.
Contact KCA Neurology to learn more.