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Neurological Conditions


What is Epilepsy?

Epilepsy is a common disease of the brain where there is a tendency to have recurrent seizures. It is a neurological disorder, and seizures are caused by a temporary disruption of the electrical activity in the brain. Depending on where the seizure is within the brain, it can cause changes in sensation and feeling, awareness and consciousness, emotions, behaviour, and movement. Seizures vary greatly and can be very brief or last up to two or three minutes. Most seizures are over in less than two minutes. Some seizures can be severe whereas others can be very subtle.

There are many different types of epilepsies and people’s experiences differ greatly. Some types of epilepsy are age-limited and the person eventually stops having seizures. For others, epilepsy is a life-long condition.

Symptoms of epilepsy

Epilepsy is a chronic neurological disorder that affects the nervous system. Symptoms of epilepsy can vary from person to person, but they typically fall into one of two categories:

  1. seizure types and
  2. non-seizure types

Seizure types include grand mal seizures, which cause loss of consciousness and convulsions; and partial seizures, which involve involuntary muscle contractions.

Non-seizure types include staring spells, dizziness, and changes in behaviour.

Epilepsy can be caused by a variety of factors, including head injuries, genetic disorders, stroke, and brain tumors. In many cases, the exact cause of epilepsy is unknown.

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Diagnosing epilepsy

Diagnosing epilepsy can be a challenge, as the condition can vary greatly from one person to the next. There are a number of different types of epilepsy, and symptoms can range from mild to severe. In some cases, epilepsy may only occur sporadically, while in others it may be a chronic condition. Because of this variability, there is no single test that can be used to diagnose epilepsy. Instead, doctors will often use a combination of medical history, physical examination, and neurological testing to reach a diagnosis. In some cases, brain imaging may also be used. Diagnosing epilepsy can be a complex process, but with the help of a qualified medical team, an accurate diagnosis can be made.

How Epilepsy Affects Children?

Having epilepsy can affect a child in different ways and the impact can vary. Depending on their age and the type of seizures the child has. For some children having a diagnosis of epilepsy will not affect their day-to-day lives. For others it may be frightening or difficult to understand. They may feel embarrassed, isolated or different in front of their peers.

Encouraging your child to talk about their concerns may help them to feel more positive.

Seizures are often focal and include twitching, numbness or tingling of the child’s face or tongue, and may interfere with speech and cause drooling. Sometimes they can progress into a tonic-clonic seizure. Seizures usually happen in early stages of sleep. Medication is not always needed.

Some children’s seizures happen in response to triggers such as stress, excitement, missed medication or lack of sleep. Keeping a diary of their seizures can help to see if there are any patterns to when seizures happen. If you recognise triggers, avoiding them as far as possible may help to reduce the number of seizures your child has.

Getting enough sleep, and well-balanced meals, will help keep your child healthy and may help to reduce their seizures.

For some children, having epilepsy and taking AEDs will not affect their behaviour. However, some people may notice a change in their child’s mood or behaviour such as becoming irritable or withdrawn. Some children may be responding to how they feel about having epilepsy and how it affects them.

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