What Is Epilepsy?
The latest studies show that every 1 in 20 people develop epilepsy, which can affect people of all ages. It is a neurological condition that occurs when the communication between brain cells becomes interrupted and makes people susceptible to having unprovoked and recurrent seizures. Anything interrupting the communication between nerve cells can cause a seizure, such as a brain concussion, alcohol misuse or even high fever. However, people with more than two recurring seizures are considered to have epilepsy.
Seizures are the main symptom of epilepsy, and they can affect people in different ways depending on which part of the brain the seizure occurs. Also, the classification between general or focal seizures allows us to understand where the miscommunication in the brain is happening.
Focal seizures, for example, happen when an abnormal electrical brain function occurs on one side of the brain and are also known as partial seizures. The most common sign for people with focal seizures is an “aura,” which involves feelings of déjà vu, euphoria or extensive fear. On the other hand, generalized seizures happen on both sides of the brain and may include loss of consciousness. Some forms of generalized seizures include absence seizures, myoclonic seizures and tonic-clonic seizures.
Common symptoms of epileptic seizures include:
- Muscle stiffness
- Losing consciousness
- Losing muscle tone
- Twitching in arms or legs
- Looking in one spot
- Changes in vision
- Collapsing on the ground
- Temporary confusion
- Involuntary movements
- Increased heart rate
Causes of Epilepsy
Science still doesn’t have the exact answer to what causes epilepsy. However, some known factors contribute to the development of epilepsy and seizures.
Some of the causes and risk factors of developing epilepsy include:
- Severe head injury
- High fever that lasts for days
- Genetic risk factors
- Traumatic brain injury
- Brain tumours
- Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease
- Prenatal complications
- Neurological conditions
- Brain infection
Epilepsy can develop at any age; however, the diagnosis usually occurs after having a seizure, which can happen at a very young age. The diagnosis will take time. It takes a lot of imaging, testing and examining to confirm epilepsy and focus on creating the right care plan.
What is essential to know is that diagnosing epilepsy has become more challenging due to the increasing number of people experiencing anxiety, panic attacks and migraines, which can all cause a type of seizure. This is why it is essential to run plenty of tests to confirm the diagnosis, and the tests usually include the following:
- Electroencephalogram (EEG)
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
- High-density EEG
- Neuropsychological tests
- Blood tests
- Positron emission tomography (PET scan)
- Computerised tomography (CT scan)
The treatments aim to help people decrease the number of seizures or, ideally, help them become seizure-free. For some people, epilepsy is managed for their entire life, and there are minimal treatment options they can use. However, they are using other methods of battling the seizures, including avoiding triggers and using various breathing techniques and calming techniques.
The goal of treatment is to help people decrease the number of seizures or, ideally, help them become seizure-free, and there are several ways to do that:
- Using anti-epileptic medications
- Following an epilepsy-oriented diet
- Having respective or disconnection epilepsy surgery
- Vagus nerve stimulation therapy
Although there is no cure for epilepsy, seizures can still be managed through various strategies, and you should consult your doctor or specialist to provide more information on what is best for you.
Living with Epilepsy
People living with epilepsy need support and understanding from the community. Everyone is different, but many individuals cannot drive, and some individuals need assistance in learning environments to prevent triggers and safeguard their well-being. It is a daily challenge for many people, and we all should provide them with help, support and care.
At Nurseline Community Services, we understand how complex epilepsy is, so we offer tailored complex care at home and in the community. Through the help of our highly skilled professionals, we can help people with epilepsy live a life of comfort, joy and fun in their own homes.
While living with epilepsy has challenges, an independent and fulfilling life is still achievable. There are plenty of people who live alone or with family members. However, we still need to become increasingly aware of the challenges people with epilepsy face and find proactive ways to help them.
For example, some of the challenges people with epilepsy face include:
- Uncontrollable seizures
- Emotional challenges
- Challenges socialising
- Medication side effects
- Challenges with memory
- Difficulties sleeping
Controlling Your Seizures
It is important to control seizures, as they can worsen and pose a threat to people’s safety.
Some of the precautions to take to control seizures include:
- Taking medications
- Having regular check-ups with healthcare professionals
- Avoiding seizure triggers
There are also many things to remember when reducing the risks of seizures and staying safe. When you feel like you might have a seizure, it’s safest to sit or lie down to prevent falls and injuries. For others, they should stay there while the seizure lasts and make sure the seizure is timed.
Additionally, considering waking night care services as an option to stay safe during the night is worth considering for people with seizures in their sleep.
Epilepsy and Pregnancy
Most women diagnosed with epilepsy will usually have a normal pregnancy and healthy baby. If the seizures are controlled, the epilepsy will unlikely affect the pregnancy; however, for women who have more severe seizures, taking extra safety measures is essential. Everyone’s body reacts differently to pregnancy. For many women, the number of seizures they experience remains the same, while some women experience fewer seizures.
Is Epilepsy a Learning Disability?
Controlling seizures is usually one part of caring for people with epilepsy. It is equally important to help people, as well as children with epilepsy, to reach their full potential regarding learning, communication and socialisation. This goal requires commitment, dedication and a collaborative approach among parents, families, educators and epilepsy specialists.
Although epileptic seizures can be well controlled, epilepsy can pose a series of other challenges affecting children’s development and their memory, reading and speaking. Around 50% of children who have epilepsy develop some learning difficulty and benefit from tailored support.
How Nurseline Community Services Supports People With Epilepsy
At Nurseline Community Services, we follow a proactive, at-home approach and strive to create a better world for people with epilepsy. Our highly skilled expert clinicians deliver proactive, humanised care for people with neurological differences, including epilepsy.
We provide person-centred care and support for children and adults with seizures in their homes by helping them stay closer to their families and avoid prolonged hospital stays. If you are searching for a quality care provider for you or your family member, Nurseline Community Services is your best port of call. Our tailored care services across the UK, with offices in Bristol, Gloucester and Birmingham, focus on improving people’s lives and creating personalised care plans.
Contact us today for more information about how we can transform your life.