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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.


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.


Understanding and Treating Diabetic Neuropathy

Understanding and Treating Diabetic Neuropathy

Those suffering from diabetes may experience many physical symptoms that could be caused by central nervous system dysfunction, known as neuropathy. This can be frightening for patients, but there is hope for alleviating pain and mending nerves.

Understanding how to recognize neuropathy enables patients to get the treatments they need before too much damage is done. Those with diabetes can protect themselves from permanent damage by consulting their physician.


The Common Signs of Neuropathy

The condition known as peripheral neuropathy gets its name from how it impacts the nerves related to and located near the extremities, such as the hands and feet. Depending on the types of nerves affected, patients will show different symptoms.

Damage to sensory nerves is related to tingling, numbness, pain, and burning sensations. This is due to the crossing or destruction of signals that the brain needs to process touch and other sensory functions.

Motor nerves regulating movement and neuropathy may cause uncontrollable twitching, weakness, or cramps. Untreated, this can lead to paralysis and loss of mobility and dexterity. Symptoms related to autonomic nerve dysfunction are more difficult to identify, as they are often associated with unrelated conditions. These nerves govern automatic bodily functions such as breathing and digestion.

Autonomic nerve damage is related to a variety of symptoms such as diarrhea, irregular heartbeat, and inability to regulate blood pressure, which is connected to dizziness and fainting. Some may even be unable to produce sweat and develop intolerance to heat.


How to Treat Neuropathy Related to Diabetes 

Neuropathy is the most common complication associated with diabetes. It is notoriously difficult to treat, and many have suffered with it for years.

The cause of neuropathy is thought to be damage to blood vessels connected to the nervous system caused by hyperglycemia. However, it generally progresses slowly, and positive results have been achieved by glycemic regulation and the use of antidepressant or anticonvulsant medications.

Antidepressants and anticonvulsants are helpful in treating the pain associated with neuropathy and are generally used on a first-line basis to help patients through the therapeutic process. In addition, tight control of glycemic index is essential to long-term relief from neuropathy.


Never Lose Hope

Diet and exercise are the best choices for treating neuropathy, emphasizing the old “use it or lose it” motto. In addition to lifestyle changes, consult with a physician about treatment options that will enable you to regain mobility and reduce pain.

To learn or seek treatment, contact KCA Neurology at 615.550.1800.