Epilepsy is a central nervous system disorder that affects0.5% to 1% of the population, with males and females of all races, ethnicbackgrounds, and ages being equally affected. In the United States alone, about2.5 million people have epilepsy. One is diagnosed with the condition once they have had twoseizures. A seizure is characterized by unusual electrical activity in thebrain. Brain cells normally communicate by sending electrical signals.
During aseizure, many brain cells signal at the same time. Symptoms vary from person toperson and can be categorized based on where they start in the brain, whether aperson’s awareness is affected, and whether the seizure involves othersymptoms. Focal seizures originate in one area of the brain and can befurther classified as focal aware seizures or focal impaired awarenessseizures. In focal aware seizures, one remains consciousIn focalimpaired awareness seizures, there is achange in consciousnessGeneralized seizures involve all areas of the brain and canbe further classified into six types.
Absence seizuresTonic seizuresAtonic seizuresClonic seizuresMyoclonic seizuresTonic-clonic seizuresBrain imaging in the form of an electroencephalogram (EEG) isused to evaluate seizures. The scan records the electrical activity of the brainin real time. Any abnormalities detected helps to diagnose the cause or type ofseizure, be it focal or generalized.
Epilepsy is not a fatal condition, rather, those affected byepilepsy cope with it on a day to day basis. Self-management is encouragedamong people with the condition, who can do so by taking medicationaccordingly, managing stress, and sleeping well. They must take precautions toprevent dehydration and overexertion, which can increase the probability ofhaving a seizure.
As is with other disabilities, people with epilepsy may beeligible to apply for benefits, and they cannot be denied employment due totheir condition. In the United States, those prone to having seizures are notissued drivers licenses. Mental health disorders such as depression and anxietyare associated with the condition, which can be treated with counseling.