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Epilepsy Health and Causes


Those with epilepsy face a variety of different health and everyday life complications. Varying causes, symptoms, severity and triggers call for unique treatments for each individual. The best way those with epilepsy receive effective treatment is by telling their doctor what their seizures look like as well as what their symptoms or triggers are. To know how to effectively describe you or a loved one's seizures to a healthcare provider click here. 

Causes of epilepsy are different for each person, and some people have no identifiable cause. In others, doctors can trace epilepsy directly to the brain's structure, genetics, brain trauma, autoimmune disorders, metabolic issues, or infectious diseases all of which are known to increase the risk of seizures. Each cause has different signs, diagnoses, and treatment options. Most of these causes can be seen on imaging of the brain with an MRI. 

Click to learn more about the different causes of epilepsy:

What Are The Symptoms and Triggers of Seizures?

Some people find that seizures may occur in a pattern or are more likely to occur in certain situations or under certain conditions. It is important to keep track of any factors that may bring on a seizure (also called seizure triggers). This is important because avoiding or managing seizure triggers is something you and only you can do to lessen the chance of seizures. Though it may not get rid of seizures for a person for good, it can reduce the likelihood by avoiding situations and circumstances. Parents can also do this for their children with epilepsy.

Remember that not all people with epilepsy have seizure triggers or ones that can be avoided. Triggers may be different from one person to the next. For example, seizures may occur only during sleep or when waking up. Additionally, some women may notice that they are more likely to have a seizure during certain parts of their menstrual cycle, while other people may notice seizures more often at times of high stress.

Common triggers for those that do have avoidable triggers can potentially reduce their seizures drastically by considering the following:

  • Missed medicine

  • Sleep deprivation

  • Stress

  • Alcohol

  • Drug abuse

  • Menstrual cycle

  • Nutritional factors

  • Over-the-counter medicines

  • Flashing lights

What are some common side effects of seizure medication?

There is a variety of symptoms that those treated for epilepsy experience with medication such as:

  • Brain Fog: a term used to describe a cognitive and memory issues associated with the inability to think clearly.

  • Sleep dysfunction: the inability to fall asleep or stay asleep for an adequate amount of time. 

  • Depression: a withdrawal or loss of interest in activities, interests or people.

  • Anxiety: the mind and body's reaction to stressful, dangerous, or unfamiliar situations. It's the sense of uneasiness, distress, overstimulation or dread you feel before a significant event.

  • Dry mouth: a condition in which your mouth does not have adequate amount of saliva.

  • Fatigue: a condition in which a person is experiencing weariness or exhaustion from labor, exertion, or stress. 

  • Stress: a state of mental or emotional strain caused by adverse circumstances.

  • Spasms/twitch: a condition where a spur of energy is released from the brain to a specific section or region of the body causing involuntary muscle constriction and movement.

  • and more... 

What are some common symptoms of a seizure?

Considering that there are several different types of seizures, symptoms will vary between each individual. Symptoms can be mild to severe in form. Some of the symptoms include:

  • Euphoria during aura (before the episode)

  • Temporary confusion

  • Disassociation (spacing out/staring blankly)

  • Uncontrollable jerking movements or twitching of the arms and legs

  • Loss of consciousness or awareness

  • Psychological symptoms such as fear and anxiety

  • Eyes opening and closing

  • Inability to speak or acknowledge stimulation 

For information about how to identify and aid someone having a seizure click here.

What are some lifestyle and health complications of epilepsy?

Those with epilepsy can live to have fulfilling a quality life experiences. In terms of safety and health risks, there are a few things that those with epilepsy must consider and discuss with their doctor about:  

  • Activities that may cause injuries or death due to falls

  • Activities that pose the risk of drowning such as swimming

  • Increased risk of accidents when driving a vehicle

  • Complications during pregnancy

  • Psychological problems such as depression, anxiety, and suicidal tendencies

  • Frequent and recurrent seizures without regaining consciousness, a condition known as status epilepticus

  • Sudden unexpected death in epilepsy (SUDEP), a rare but life-threatening complication

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