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Awareness About Epilepsy - Exploring Types, Causes, Symptoms & How to Help During a Seizure

By Dr. Nitin Garg in Neurology

Feb 21 , 2024 | 2 min read

International Epilepsy Day serves as a reminder to raise awareness, reduce stigma, and support those living with epilepsy. As we unite globally to mark this occasion, it's essential to delve into the intricacies of epilepsy, including its types, causes, symptoms, and how we can assist someone experiencing a seizure.

Epilepsy is a chronic condition characterized by recurrent, unprovoked seizures that are sudden, uncontrolled electrical disturbances in the brain. These seizures can vary widely in intensity and duration, affecting people of all ages, genders, races, and socioeconomic backgrounds. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates epilepsy may affect about 50 million people globally, making it one of the most common neurological conditions globally.

Epilepsy manifests through different types of seizures and is categorized into two main groups: focal seizures and generalized seizures. Focal seizures (previously known as partial seizures) originate in one specific part of the brain, while generalized seizures affect both hemispheres of the brain simultaneously.

Also, Read - Understanding Epilepsy: Types, Causes, Symptoms, and Management

Types of Epilepsy

  • Focal (Partial) Epilepsy: This type of epilepsy originates from a specific region of the brain and may manifest with symptoms such as altered consciousness, involuntary movements, sensory disturbances, or emotions.
  • Generalized Epilepsy: Generalized seizures involve abnormal electrical activity across the entire brain, leading to various types of seizures, including tonic-clonic seizures (formerly known as grand mal seizures), absence seizures (formerly known as petit mal seizures), myoclonic seizures, and atonic seizures.

Causes of Epilepsy

The causes of epilepsy are diverse and multifactorial. Some common factors contributing to the development of epilepsy include:

  • Genetic predisposition.
  • Brain injury or trauma.
  • Brain tumours.
  • Infectious diseases such as meningitis or encephalitis.
  • Developmental disorders.
  • Stroke or vascular diseases.
  • Neurological conditions.

Symptoms of Epilepsy

The symptoms of epilepsy can vary widely depending on the type of seizure and the affected individual. Common symptoms may include:

  • Temporary confusion.
  • Loss of consciousness.
  • Uncontrollable jerking movements.
  • Sensory disturbances such as tingling or strange smells.
  • Staring spells.
  • Muscle stiffness or rigidity.
  • Brief periods of unconsciousness.

Also, Read - 7 Wonderful Exercises for Those Suffering From Epilepsy

Tips on How to Help Someone During an Epileptic Attack

Witnessing someone having a seizure can be an experience, but knowing how to respond calmly and effectively can make a significant difference. Here are some essential tips on how to help someone experiencing an epileptic seizure:

  • Stay Calm: Keep calm and reassure others present. Most seizures are brief and resolve on their own.
  • Ensure Safety: Clear the area around the person to prevent injury. Remove sharp objects or anything that could cause harm during the seizure.
  • Do Not Restrain: Avoid restraining the person's movements unless they are in immediate danger.
  • Cushion the Head: Place something soft under the person's head to prevent injury.
  • Time the Seizure: Note down the duration of the seizure. If the seizure lasts longer than five minutes, or if another seizure begins shortly after the first, seek medical assistance immediately.
  • Positioning: Once the seizure subsides, gently turn the person onto their side to aid breathing and prevent choking.
  • Provide Comfort: Stay with the person and offer reassurance as they regain consciousness.
  • Seek Medical Attention: If it's the person's first seizure and the seizure lasts longer than usual, or if the person is injured, seek medical attention promptly.

Also, Read - Epilepsy: Symptoms, Types, Causes and First Aid

On International Epilepsy Day, let us stand in solidarity with those affected by epilepsy, working towards greater awareness, acceptance, and support for individuals living with this condition. By understanding the various aspects of epilepsy, including its types, causes, symptoms, and appropriate responses during seizures, we can create a more inclusive and compassionate society for everyone.