Epilepsy is a common neurological condition characterized by recurring seizures which have their origin from the brain. Seizures occur as result of a brief, temporary disruption to the usual electrical activity of the brain.
The causes for epilepsy could be varied, ranging from unknown causes, familial/ genetic factors, to diseases affecting the brain (meningitis/ certain childhood infections) or injury/ trauma to the brain.
Each person’s seizure varies from the other. Warnings or “auras” sometimes warn the onset of a seizure.
Trigger factors to bring on seizures include inadequate sleep, missed meals, response to stress, anxiety, fever and flashing or bright lights. Most seizures are over in a few minutes or less and the person recovers quickly, but it’s not unusual to feel sleepy or have a headache afterwards (a hangover feeling) and sometimes it can take up to a few days to feel back to normal.
You need to meet your general physician in case you show those signs/ symptoms, who will in turn refer you to a neurologist or a neurophysician.
More than 80% of people with epilepsy can have their seizures under control, by medication. The antiepileptics (or anticonvulsants) include phenytoin (diphenyl hydantoin), sodium valproate and carbamazepine.
Surgery is an effective alternative for epileptic people whose seizures cannot be brought under control by medicine. Though surgery has been used for far more than a century, its use has only recently increased. Its effectiveness has to be weighed against its risks and then only decided for people with uncontrollable seizures that are refractory to aggressive treatment with medication.
Earlier, patients usually had several medications with deprived results for many years, sometimes even decades, before being considered for surgery.
However, more recently, surgery is being considered earlier. Studies are now showing that the earlier the surgery is performed, the better the outcome is.
Surgery is now done on people whose seizures are uncontrolled even for only 1 to 2 years. However, two single drugs or a combination of two or more drugs should be tried before surgery is considered.
In fact, epilepsy surgery can be particularly helpful to people who have seizures from structural brain problems (like benign brain tumors, strokes or malformations of the brain’s blood vessels).
Both medical and surgical approaches should be customized to judge these factors when weighing the benefits of surgery versus the risks of sustained seizures and surgery’s side effects.
The technology however is advancing and is state-of-the-art, being applied to achieve the safest and least-invasive procedures to enable each person to attain the maximum possible quality of life.