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Epilepsy involves a brain disorder in which a person has repeated spontaneous seizures of the brain. Seizures are abnormal electrical activity events that can occur in a part of the brain and lead to partial seizures or can occur in the whole brain and result in tonic clonic seizures in which the patient is unconscious.

Causes of epilepsy include having areas of the brain that are more electrically sensitive because of past trauma. You can also be born with a seizure disorder. Drug exposure, drug withdrawal, fever and abnormal amounts of glucose or sodium in the body can cause epilepsy on a transient basis. If the problem is a correctable one, the person doesn't have epilepsy. If the seizures are unrelenting despite therapy, it is known as epilepsy. Epilepsy can affect children or adults of any age. It can be idiopathic and can have no specific cause. This is usually a type of epilepsy that begins at ages five through twenty and can be outgrown or persistent. On occasion, epilepsy is hereditary.

Common causes of epilepsy include having a stroke in the past, having brain deterioration, having Alzheimer's diseases, having an infection or abscess of the brain, having trauma to the brain, having birth injuries, having kidney failure or liver failure and having metabolic diseases, including phenylketonuria. Tumors of the brain can result in epilepsy.

Symptoms of epilepsy depend on the type and degree of electrical activity. Some people can just have staring spells, called absence seizures or petit-mal seizures. A seizure involving the whole body, involving grand-mal seizures, have symptoms of shaking of the extremities, unconsciousness, and frothing of the mouth. A partial or focal seizure involves seizure activity of just one part of the body that can degenerate into a grand mal seizure.

If a person has epilepsy, they can look completely normal much of the time and yet have a seizure that is anything but normal. Doctors can do a physical exam looking for residual findings of a recent seizure. The doctor can also do an EEG or electroencephalograph, which can tell if there are characteristic spikes in electrical activity found in epilepsy. The EEG can be normal between seizures so it is sometimes necessary to do a long EEG or to trigger conditions ripe for a seizure and do an EEG then.

Doctors can do several kinds of blood tests to look for causes of epilepsy. These can include a blood sugar test, blood chemistry, a CBC, an analysis of the CSF, liver function and kidney function tests and tests for various types of infections. A head CT or MRI can show a space lesion and a lumbar puncture can look for abnormal proteins or infection in the cerebrospinal fluid.

The treatment of seizures involves managing the seizure when it happens and preventing further seizures from occurring. You need to treat the underlying condition if it is present and the seizures might stop. The type of medication that you take is dependent upon the type of seizure disorder you have.

Medications include Depakote and Dilantin, among others. It sometimes takes benzodiazepines like valium to stop the seizure from occurring. It takes practice to find out what medication works the best as some medications make the condition worse or do not help it, while others make the condition better. Sometimes surgery can be done to relieve the risk of seizures, especially if there is a vascular lesion or space lesion causing the seizures.

Some factors increase the chances of having a seizure if you have epilepsy. These things can include taking certain medications, having an illness or infection, lack of sleep, pregnancy, emotional stress, missing doses of epilepsy medications, and using illicit drugs or alcohol.

Sometimes dietary changes can help children with epilepsy. A ketogenic diet has been used in order to block seizure activity.

HELPLINE: ☎ 1800 633 634

Medical Negligence Solicitors

Our personal injury solicitors operate a specialist medical negligence compensation service. Our Epilepsy solicitors deal with claims using a no win no fee arrangement which means that if you don�t win then you don�t pay them their professional costs. If you would like legal advice at no cost with no further obligation just complete the contact form or email our lawyers offices or use the helpline and an Epilepsy solicitor will review your medical negligence compensation claim and phone you immediately.

HELPLINE: ☎ 1800 633 634

The author of the substantive medical writing on this website is Dr. Christine Traxler MD whose biography can be read here