According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are 2.2 million people in the United States who have Epilepsy. In the world, approximately 65 million people have the disease. The Epilepsy Foundation has found that nearly 300,000 people with Epilepsy are under the age of 15, which severely affects their ability to be in a school setting.
Epilepsy occurs when there are changes in the brains tissue. It then sends out unusual signals that can cause the seizures. To be considered Epilepsy, the seizures must occur more than once. There are many different medical conditions that can cause Epilepsy including having a stroke, dementia or Alzheimers disease, injury to the brain, brain tumor, taking some types of medications, abnormal blood vessels, metabolism disorders, congenital birth defect, brain abscess, AIDS, meningitis or a brain injury during birth.
Risk factors for Epilepsy include being male, having a family history of Epilepsy, getting a head injury, having a brain infection or stroke or having multiple seizures as a child. There are also complications of Epilepsy including not being able to learn new things or focus properly, issues with aspiration during seizures, injury during a seizure like falling, biting or getting into an accident while driving and having permanent damage to the brain. Because of these dangerous complications, you should get medical help if you suspect you have Epilepsy.
The main symptom of Epilepsy is having multiple seizures in a row. A seizure causes someone to stare off into space suddenly and for a long period of time, shaking which can be violent or complete loss of being alert. Different people will have different reactions to their seizures. Some people with Epilepsy have advanced warning of a seizure such as an emotional change or smelling a weird odor just before the seizure occurs. Diagnosing Epilepsy relies on a variety of tests including an electroencephalogram (EEG), blood chemistry and blood sugar tests, complete blood count (CBC), lumbar puncture, infectious disease test, liver function test, kidney function test, MRI or CT scan of the head. You should see a doctor right away if a seizure lasts more than five minutes, breathing doesnt return, there is a second seizure immediately following the first, you have a spiked fever or you have heat exhaustion.
The two main courses of treatment for Epilepsy include medications and surgery. Epilepsy medications are called anticonvulsants and reduce the seizures and severity of them. Side effects of seizure medications include fatigue, loss of bone density, rash, gaining weight and dizziness. Surgeries include those to remove the abnormal brain cells or to place a vagus nerve stimulator (VNS) in the brain. Home treatments for Epilepsy should be done in combination with medications such as reducing emotional stress, treating an infection immediately, getting plenty of sleep, avoiding illicit drugs and alcohol use and informing your doctor of any changes. There is currently not a way to prevent Epilepsy though you can avoid seizures with proper diet and avoiding other triggers of seizures.