Many people picture epileptics as people suffering from seizures because of triggers like flashes of light.
While this scenario can occur, it’s but a small part of the overarching theme of epilepsy. In fact, there is a huge number of different types of seizures that can occur to a person.
There is a wide number of things that can cause epilepsy in a person. A scary component to epilepsy is that around half of the cases, there’s no identifiable cause at all! Epilepsy can affect anyone. The good news is that there is lots of information available about this neurological condition. By making use of this information, it’s very possible to become educated about epilepsy and know when you may be receiving false “facts” from people about epilepsy.
Causes and Risk Factors of Epilepsy
For the first half of epilepsy cases, it’s possible to track back to a specific cause. Many are caused by genetic issues which are certainly unavoidable to a person. There are genes believed to alter how sensitive people are to potential seizure triggers.
People who suffer from severe head trauma through accident or injury can suffer from epilepsy. Other brain conditions like surviving a stroke can also bring on epilepsy. Many of the serious infectious diseases like AIDS can cause epilepsy. Sometimes, there are other developmental disorders like autism which can be associated with and cause epilepsy. Finally, prenatal injuries to a baby’s brain can be a cause.
For the other half of cases, no actual cause is known. However, there are risk factors which suggest that epilepsy can occur. Many of the risk factors make sense considering known causes of epilepsy. Head injuries and family history are common risk factors. Brain infections and people with dementia are at additional risk. Suffering from strokes or blood vessel diseases elevates risk. Age is also an issue. Epilepsy typically strikes at a young age as a child, or later in life while elderly.
Symptoms and Types of Seizures
Epilepsy affects the brain. This means that seizures can occur to any part of the body the brain is in control of. Some common symptoms include staring into space, feeling confused, jerking movements in a person’s arms or legs, losing awareness or consciousness, feeling unexplained anxiety or fear.
The first type of seizure is what’s known as a focal seizure. Focal seizures will affect a specific area of the brain. Furthermore, these seizures are broken down into sub-types. The first sub type occurs without loss of consciousness. These tend to affect a person’s senses (especially vision) and emotions. Sometimes movement issues can occur with body parts jerking unexpectedly. The second subtype are focal seizures with impaired awareness. These tend to affect a person’s awareness or consciousness. People can stare into space or respond incorrectly to environmental stimuli. Repetitive movement like chewing, walking in circles or swallowing is also common.
The second type of seizure is what’s called a generalized seizure. These seizures will affect the entire brain at once, instead of just a single area. The types of generalized seizures include:
- Absence - These tend to occur in children. The children will stare into space or repeatedly blink eyes or smack their lips. They can cause loss of awareness.
- Clonic - These seizures are responsible for jerking muscle movements. This is usually in the face, arms and necks.
- Myoclonic - These seizures are repetitive twitches. They are common in the arms and legs.
- Tonic - These seizures cause muscles to stiffen up heavily. The back, arms and legs are most affected. In some cases, they can cause a person to fall due to muscles in the legs being affected.
- Atonic - These are also known as drop seizures. Muscle control is lost and people will often fall over.
- Tonic-clonic - These are the most serious seizures. They often result in a full loss of consciousness with a person’s body shaking and becoming stiff. Some cases result in the biting of the tongue or a loss of bladder control.