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How to Know If You Have Epilepsy

How to Know If You Have Epilepsy

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.

 

What Is Dementia and How Is It Diagnosed?

What Is Dementia and How Is It Diagnosed?

Age-related conditions, particularly those impacting cognitive abilities, are poorly understood by the general public, which can lead to anxiety and misconceptions about the condition. It is important to understand how to identify the symptoms of dementia in order to get the best treatment from your physician.

Dementia is not a specific condition, it is a “catch-all” term for any condition in which mental ability has declined enough to interfere with the functions of daily life. Dementia is often caused by Alzheimer’s disease, though not always.

 

What Are the Signs and Symptoms?

Memory loss is just one example of the symptoms associated with dementia. However, simple forgetfulness or absent-minded behaviors are not enough to warrant a diagnosis of dementia. True memory loss means being unable to recognize immediate family members or close friends, forgetting where one is or how to get home, and other debilitating memory loss problems.

Furthermore, many people still hold the misconception that serious mental decline is a normal part of the aging process. This is not true, and if you or a loved one experience serious impairment in any two of the following mental functions, contact a physician immediately:

  • Language and communication
  • Focus and ability to maintain attention
  • Visual perception
  • Judgment and reasoning
  • Memory

Dementia is often depicted as inevitable or untreatable, which could not be further from the truth.

 

Treating Dementia

If identified in the beginning stages, dementia is treatable and sometimes reversible. Speak to a neurologist about the causes of your dementia and how to treat them. Some examples of effective treatments are:

  • Taking an inventory of medications currently being taken, some may lead to memory loss or confusion, especially in older patients
  • Treating an infection such as encephalitis
  • Anti-depressants sometimes help, as depression is sometimes misdiagnosed as dementia in older patients
  • Removal of a brain tumor or other ways to reduce pressure on the brain
  • Thyroid hormones are effective in treating hypothyroidism
  • A B12 deficiency could be the culprit; taking vitamin supplements may help

In some cases, the causes of dementia in a particular patient may be untreatable. In this case, it is important to research palliative care options. Many associate palliative care with end of life services, but it is also designed to improve the quality of life for patients and caregivers.

Work with your neurologist and palliative care providers to create a care plan. A diagnosis of dementia can lead to unbearable anxiety, fear, or even anger. Home care and maintaining independence for the patient are ways to ease the transition into a new lifestyle.

 

Contact one of the professionals at KCA Neurology to find out how we can help treat dementia you or a loved one may experience.

 

Characteristics and Treatment for ADHD

Characteristics and Treatment for ADHD

According to the Fifth Edition Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), which is used by practitioners to diagnose psychiatric conditions, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is characterized by a variety of symptoms related to general difficulty with impulsivity and concentration. This diagnosis is often poorly understood, and navigating the therapeutic process can be anxiety-inducing for patients or guardians of children with ADHD.

Knowledge is the most important tool and can enable people to identify the signs of ADHD and have an effective discussion with a neurologist. Here is a helpful framework for understanding the condition and how it is diagnosed.

 

General Characteristics 

ADHD presents with symptoms that can be classified as impulsivity, inattention, and hyperactivity.

  • Inattention
  • Difficulty focusing on one thing
  • Easily distracted and bored
  • Hyperactivity
  • Fidgeting
  • Talking nonstop
  • Continuous movement
  • Impulsivity
  • Very impatient
  • Shows emotions without consideration for others
  • Often interrupts conversations

Some or all of these behaviors may characterize the patient’s general demeanor. However, some of these actions may be a facet of their person’s personality and not ADHD related.

 

Treatment Options

Meeting with therapists and physicians will help determine patients’ best options. For children they may need only minor adjustments to their diet or living environment to see immediate behavior benefits. Medical professionals will often provide useful advice on how to apply these methods to help your child.

For adults and children there are many excellent treatment options that involve medication. When impulsive behavior is very severe, and it impedes with a person’s ability to communicate or learn new skills, certain medications can enable them to maintain focus and avoid the feelings of lethargy common in those with ADHD.

 

How to Determine the Right Treatment 

Researchers have studied ADHD and its most common treatments since the 1970s. This has enabled them to assess the long-term viability of various methods.

The National Institute of Health recommends treatment with medication and therapy for most patients diagnosed with ADHD. While there is some difficulty assessing the outcomes of medication alone, those patients who used both were shown to have higher quality of life.

Remember, consult with a neurologist or physician and ask questions regarding the details of recommended treatments. At KCA Neurology we help ADHD patients from ages 16 and up. To learn more, contact us today at (615) 550-1800.