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Understanding Epilepsy: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment Options

Have you ever wondered what happens during an epilepsy seizure?

Understanding Epilepsy: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment Options

Epilepsy might seem mysterious, but it's a condition that affects millions of people around the world

It's not just about experiencing seizures; it's about understanding what triggers them and how they can vary from person to person.

In this article, we'll dive into what epilepsy is, explore its causes, recognize the symptoms, and discuss the treatment options available. 

Whether you or someone you know is dealing with epilepsy, gaining knowledge on this condition can empower you to manage it better. 

Let’s start by understanding exactly what epilepsy is.

What is Epilepsy?

Epilepsy is a neurological disorder, which means it affects the brain. 

It's characterised by the tendency to have recurrent seizures. A seizure occurs when there is abnormal electrical activity in the brain, which can affect how a person appears or acts for a short time. 

These episodes can vary widely from one person to another, both in how often they happen and how severe they are.

People often think a seizure involves dramatic shaking movements, but symptoms can also be subtle, such as brief moments of staring blankly, twitching of limbs, or even temporary confusion. 

Understanding these variations is key because it affects how epilepsy is diagnosed and treated. 

This condition doesn’t discriminate and can affect anyone, no matter their age, race, or gender.

The exact mechanism of why these seizures occur can be complex to understand for people without proper medical knowledge. 

However, understanding the types of Epilepsy seizures, which we will explore next, can help you to understand more about how the condition affects them.

Types of Epilepsy Seizures

Epilepsy can cause different types of seizures, and each type affects people in different ways. 

Let's look at the main types:

Focal Seizures

These start in one part of the brain. Sometimes you might just feel strange for a moment or have a twitch in a part of your body. 

Other times, these seizures can spread and affect more of the brain, leading to more noticeable symptoms.

Generalized Seizures

These seizures involve the whole brain from the start. There are a few kinds:

Absence Seizures: Usually happening in children, these look like brief moments where the person seems “out of focus' or just stares blankly for a few seconds.

Tonic-Clonic Seizures: These are what most people think of when they hear 'seizure.' The person's muscles stiffen and jerk, and they might lose consciousness.

Atonic Seizures: These are also known as 'drop attacks.' Suddenly, the person might fall down because their muscles stop working.

Myoclonic Seizures: These involve quick, sudden jerks of the muscles.

Knowing about these types helps us better understand how epilepsy affects people. 

Now, let’s move on to explore what causes these seizures in the first place which is crucial in managing or potentially preventing them in those affected by the Epilepsy disorder.

Causes of Epilepsy

Epilepsy doesn't have one single cause; it's often the result of various factors that affect the brain. 

Understanding these can help us better grasp how to manage or prevent the condition. 

Here are some common causes that contribute to the development of epilepsy:

  • Genetic Influences: In few cases, epilepsy is linked to inherited genetic traits. Certain genes are known to cause epilepsy on their own, while others make a person more susceptible to environmental conditions that can trigger seizures.

  • Brain Conditions: Brain damage from other conditions like stroke, brain tumours, or serious head injuries often leads to epilepsy. These injuries can disrupt the normal electrical activity in the brain, leading to seizures.

  • Infectious Diseases: Infections such as meningitis, viral encephalitis and particularly in India Tuberculosis and Neurocysticercosis (A Parasitic infection of Brain) can cause inflammation and damage to the brain, which in some cases leads to epilepsy.

  • Perinatal Injury and Developmental Disorders: Damage to the brain during pregnancy due to an infection, poor nutrition, or oxygen deficiencies can cause developmental disorders which can lead to refractory epilepsy. Conditions like cerebral palsy and autism often have associated seizure disorders.

  • Immune Disorders: Autoimmune conditions, where the body's immune system mistakenly attacks healthy cells, can also affect the brain and lead to epilepsy.

Understanding these causes shows you the complexity of epilepsy. 

With this foundation, you’re better prepared to learn how epilepsy is diagnosed, which is crucial for effective treatment planning.

Diagnosis of Epilepsy

If you or someone you know might have epilepsy, it's important to get a clear diagnosis. 

Here's how doctors usually figure out if it's epilepsy:

Medical History Review: First, your doctor will ask about any seizures you've had and your family health history. A history from an Eye witness is very important in diagnosis. 

This helps them understand your overall health and any patterns that might point to epilepsy.

Neurological Examination: This is a check-up that focuses on the brain to see how it's working. 

Your doctor will look for anything that might explain why you're having seizures.

EEG and Video EEG Test: This is a key step in diagnosing epilepsy. 

During this test, small sensors are placed on your head to monitor the electrical activity in your brain, while a video records what happens to you during the test. 

This combination allows doctors to see your physical reactions during a seizure and match them to what’s happening in your brain, making it easier to understand the seizures.

Imaging Tests: Epilepsy Specialist Doctors may also use MRI or CT scans to look inside your brain. 

These images can show if there’s something like a tumour or scar damage that could be causing your seizures.

Getting the right diagnosis is crucial because it guides what treatment should be used. 

Next, we’ll talk about the different treatment options available, which depend on the type of epilepsy you have.

Treatment Options

Once you or someone you know is diagnosed with epilepsy, choosing the right treatment for Epilepsy is crucial. 

The main goal is to control seizures. This can help lead a more normal life. 

Here are some common ways to treat epilepsy:

Medication: Most people with epilepsy will start treatment with medications called anti-epileptic drugs. These medications help in control of seizures. There are different kinds of these drugs available and appropriate choice of medications will control seizures in around 75-80 % of patients completely. 

Epilepsy Surgery: If seizures don't get controlled with appropriate medications (20 % patients), surgery could be an option. This is usually only considered if by appropriate pre- surgical evaluation a single focus is identified in the brain for seizure origin and if that part can be removed safely.

Dietary Changes: Most patients with Epilepsy can eat healthy and regular diets. Changing what you eat might help control seizures too, especially in resistant epilepsy. The ketogenic diet, which has lots of fats and very few carbs, is one diet that has helped especially children with refractory epilepsy.

Neurostimulation Devices (Like Vagal Nerve Stimulation): These are devices that send small electric shocks to the brain to help prevent seizures. Some devices work all the time and others work when they detect a seizure is starting.

Everyone’s epilepsy is different, so treatments need to be personalised. You’ll need to work closely with your Epilepsy Specialist to find the best way to manage your seizures.

Dealing with epilepsy can be tough, but it’s possible to manage it with the right information and support.


Managing epilepsy effectively requires not just understanding the condition, but also accessing the right medical support. 

Accurate diagnosis and tailored treatment plans are crucial for improving life quality for those living with epilepsy. 

It’s important to consult with a specialist who has a deep understanding of epilepsy and its complexities.

If you are in Vadodara and looking for an epilepsy specialist, consider reaching out to Dr. Mihir Parekh. Known as one of the best epilepsy specialists in the Vadodara, Dr. Mihir has specialised training in managing epilepsy. His expertise ensures that patients receive a comprehensive evaluation and the most effective treatment plans suited to their specific needs.

Remember, you are not alone in this journey. With the right help, epilepsy can be managed effectively. 

Contacting an Epilepsy Specialist like Dr. Mihir can be your first step towards gaining control over your or your loved one’s condition and moving toward a healthier life.

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