Questions and Answers on Epilepsy
Our body has two main types of muscles; voluntary and involuntary muscles. Involuntary muscles contract and relax without our intentions such as muscles in our stomach, intestines, airways, eyes, urinary tract and many others.
The voluntary muscles are those muscles under our control through which we determine movements we want to make, like walking, eating, fighting, typing and so forth.
Sometimes these muscles contract and relax very repeatedly resulting in uncontrollable movements of the whole body or part of the body; this may be accompanied by loss of bowel control, urinary incontinence, cessation of breathing and even unconsciousness. This is convulsion or seizure.
Convulsion is a symptom of epilepsy but not all convulsions are caused by epilepsy. Unlike other causes of convulsions (seizures) , epilepsy is not easily reversible.
1. Q. What is Epilepsy?
A. Epilepsy is a transient abnormal brain functional disorder characterized by recurrent convulsions or/and loss of some sensory functions with or without loss of consciousness.
The convulsion maybe focal at the onset but could then become generalized.
The sensory symptoms include light flashes, sudden buzzing in the ear, unusually taste, and smell. All these depend on the part of the brain where the electrical discharges are coming from.
2. Q. What Causes Epilepsy?
A. In many cases, the cause of epilepsy cannot be determined.
Heredity is known to be a major cause; that is, children of epileptics are at higher risk of epilepsy; this could begin at any age.
Epilepsy could also be due to medical conditions such as congenital abnormalities, brain injuries at birth, brain scars resulting from head injuries due to falls/road traffic accidents, brain tumours, blood vessel diseases and Alzheimer disease.
3. Q. Can Epilepsy Spread?
A. Epilepsy is not a communicable disease; it cannot spread from one person to another
4. Q. When Do You Suspect You May Have Epilepsy?
A. Repeated episodes of convulsions whether focal or generalized with or without loss of consciousness.
5. Q. What Can Put You at Risk of Epileptic attack?
A. The following can trigger an epileptic attack in a person who is an epileptic; repeated fast light flashes, television flickers, sudden loud noise or repetitive sounds, alcohol consumption, cigarette smoking, Stress, headache, menstruation, Lack of sleep or sleep (some epileptics have seizures only during their sleep).
6. Q. What are the Possible Complications of Epilepsy?
A. Complications of epilepsy include injuries, aspiration of vomit, blockage of the airway by the tongue and death depending on when and where the attack occurred. Any or all of these can occur during an attack.
7. Q. How can you prevent Epilepsy?
A. Epilepsy can be reduced by baby delivery in well equipped hospitals to avoid birth injuries, reduction in road traffic accidents and appropriate diet low in cholesterol to reduce narrowing of the blood vessels
Epileptic attacks can be prevented by the use of drugs, change in lifestyle and adequate attention to one’s immediate environment like the home and place of work.