Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Epilepsy - a short overview

Epilepsy is a deterioration of the nervous system that produces sudden and intense seizures. These seizures are caused by abnormal excessive or synchronous neuronal activity in the brain.  It is a common chronic neurological disorder and it seems that about 50 million people worldwide have it. During these seizures speaking and sight are impaired and sometimes the person is not even conscious. People who suffer from epilepsy have regular seizures that occur during their life; unfortunately, without a correct treatment, they become more severe and more frequent. Even people who take the treatment correctly may suffer from seizures during their life.

However, one mustn’t consider that all people with seizures suffer from epilepsy. Sometimes seizures can be the result of a certain traumatism or another disease. Epilepsy’s causes are mostly unknown although there are a few factors people should consider. Also, they should remember that it often starts during childhood or after the age of 60.

There are two types of seizures involved in epilepsy – localized seizures or distributed (generalized seizures). Partial seizures are also divided into two types of seizures: a simple partial seizure or a complex partial seizure. The simple partial seizure happens without affecting the consciousness while the complex partial seizure will affect it.
Localized seizures are characterized by abnormal excessive or synchronous neuronal activity in a certain part of the brain and they can generalize and affect the whole body creating a secondary generalization. They all involve loss of consciousness and they are divided according to their effect on the body in: absence, clonic, myoclonic, tonic-clonic, tonic and atonic seizures.

Risk factors that may lead to epilepsy:
-         having somebody in your family with epilepsy
-         a serious brain traumatism (fracture or a profound cerebral lesion with the loss of consciousness or amnesia)
-         cerebral tumor
-         encephalitis or meningitis
-         lead poisoning
-         Alzheimer’s disease

There are a few types of epilepsy that can cause seizures:

Benign centrotemporal lobe epilepsy of childhood or benign Rolandic epilepsy
        occurs in children between the ages of 3 and 13 years;
        simple, partial and often nocturnal seizures in brief episodes;

Benign occipital epilepsy of childhood
-         occurs in children with ages between 3 and 5 with late onset between 7 and 10 years;
-         convulsions involving one half of the body or hemiconvulsions

Temporal lobe epilepsy
-         the most common epilepsy of adults
-         seizures begin in late childhood and adolescence and they are complex partial seizures preceded by aura  

West syndrome
-         infantile spasm
-         onset between three months and 2 years with the most common cause to be tuberous sclerosis

Juvenile myoclonic epilepsy 
-occurs between ages 8 and 20 with myoclonic jerks and tonic-clonic seizures but also some absence seizures.

The diagnosis of epilepsy is made using an Electroencephalography (EEG)


  1. hi andreea, looks like i have a lot to catch up here, you post quite fast these days:) very unlike before :)
    Oh my,epilepsy is such a dangerous and scary disease, because it affects the nerves and brain.
    In fact both partial and localized seizures sound so scary to me.. it very true that good health is the most important thing in life, above anything else.
    We are so gratefulo to be healthy.

  2. Yeah, I decided I will write every day. Epilepsy is indeed a scary disease especially when it occurs during childhood, it can really traumatize a child.

  3. This is really good information regarding epilepsy and seizures. It was something I had to deal with when my dog had an sudden onset of seizures, it was horrible! He passed on a few years ago. One of the causes the vet mentioned was possible lead poisoning which you also mentioned, but they were not able to pinpoint the cause after multiple tests. Thanks for the post! We have to stay healthy too:)

  4. @Fountain of Youth - I'm so sad to hear that. What happened? Do you think somebody poisoned your dog? I know epilepsy and the seizures are a terrible sight so that must have been really hard for you..

  5. I am not sure what happened, but my dog could have picked up anything off the streets and ingested rat or snail poison (my vet suspected this) and did not know it. The vet also thought old paint containing lead from buildings could play a part.