Listen to this article
International Epilepsy Day is observed on the second Monday of February, each year. This time, it clashed with the festival of love, Valentine’s Day. To show some love and awareness for epilepsy patients, let’s read on!
A disorder of the central nervous system, epilepsy is when brain activity becomes abnormal, causing seizures or periods of unusual behaviour, sensations, and sometimes loss of awareness.
Epilepsy is a chronic non-communicable disease of the brain that affects around 50 million people worldwide. Anyone can develop epilepsy, and it affects people of all genders, races, ethnic backgrounds, and ages.
Epilepsy is not a contagious disease. Although many underlying disease mechanisms can lead to epilepsy, the cause of the disease is still unknown in most cases. The causes of epilepsy are divided into the following categories: structural, genetic, infectious, metabolic, immune, and unknown.
For patients who have epilepsy, treatment with medications (or sometimes surgery) can control seizures. Some people require lifelong treatment to control seizures, but the seizures eventually go away for others. Some children with epilepsy may outgrow the condition with age. In other words, the whole aim of the treatment of epilepsy is to alleviate seizures and cure epilepsy.
With the reduction of seizures, these patients lead a better quality of life. If a patient is receiving medical treatment, they need to be vigilant and report any change in seizure frequency, any new seizure type that they may have noticed, and any medication-related side effects to their concerned doctor at the earliest. They should also note how the medicines or treatment plan has impacted their daily routine, including sleeping and eating patterns.
Sometimes medication by itself may not be able to decrease the frequency of seizures, and in this scenario, another option available for patients is surgery. The most common surgery is a resection, which involves removing the part of the brain where the seizures start. The temporal lobe is often released in a procedure known as Temporal Lobectomy. In some cases, this can stop seizure activity. It is essential to keep in mind that if the patient has undergone epilepsy surgery. They will need to follow up closely with their respective Epileptologist and or Neurosurgeon for changes in medications. They should also report any new change they may perceive to their doctor at the earliest.
Additionally, recurrence of seizures is always a possibility even after surgery, and it should promptly be noted or reported to the hospital. If possible, a video of the seizure (be it at home or work) can benefit the healthcare team. Patients should also be encouraged to try and maintain a seizure diary.