November is the month set aside to highlight epilepsy and its impact within the community.
So, what is epilepsy?
Epilepsy is a very common neurological disorder, affecting up to 3% of the population. The hallmark of this disease is seizures, which are sudden temporary events resulting from abnormal signaling in the brain. Epilepsy is therefore the disease occurring from recurrent unprovoked seizures. Research shows that 1 in 10 people will experience one or more seizures in their lifetime. It is important to note however, that epilepsy and seizures are two distinct afflictions. This can be explained using the analogy of a cough. A cough can be transient, for example caused by sudden inhalation of dust, and can occur once or twice then never again, much like a seizure. However, a cough can be a result of a chronic condition such as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), causing relentless recurrence, like seizures in epilepsy. Seizures are the symptom, but epilepsy is the disease.
What causes Epilepsy?
The exact reason is unknown as most epileptic seizures occur unprovoked, but any process leading to the alteration of the structure or function of the brain can predispose to epilepsy. These include inborn (congenital) malformations, diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, head trauma, brain tumors, meningitis and encephalitis, and strokes.
What happens during a seizure?
The seizure itself usually lasts less than 5 minutes but can be prolonged (status epilepticus). Since seizures can arise from any part of the brain, they can lead to several bodily responses. These responses range from the convulsive spasmic movement of the entire body (grand mal seizures) to a simple loss of awareness with no motion at all (petite mal or absence seizures). Convulsion is often used interchangeably with seizure, but the former refers to the abnormal muscle contraction that occurs with some seizures. Not all seizures are convulsive. Some only lead to loss or alteration of consciousness. Some people experience loss of bowel or bladder control during seizures. Different epileptic syndromes affect people differently and not every seizure has the same symptoms or progression. Seizures usually end spontaneously and without intervention.
What makes epilepsy so significant?
Absence seizures and convulsions may lead to injury, but risk for death during a single seizure is low and is often overestimated by the public. The greatest cause of distress by epilepsy syndromes is the lack of control over one’s own body. This is often very frustrating and embarrassing. Untreated epilepsy can be a huge inconvenience at work and in social situations, and even dangerous to one’s own safety and that of others. Therefore, diagnosis of the specific epileptic syndrome is important as most forms of epilepsy are treatable and even curable through treatment and medication.
Ponea is a one stop shop for all your treatment needs, including epilepsy. We offer a wide range of lab imaging tests and specialists suited for every patient’s individual need. Here at Ponea, we make your wellness our priority. Browse our online catalogue of health services on www.ponea.com to book a service that is most preferable or contact us directly on +254 111 013 900 to learn more.