Caretaker at home – Epilepsy is one of the most common medical conditions in the UK, affecting 600,000 people. That’s more than one in every 100. Epilepsy is a neurological condition which results in seizures. It is worth noting, however, that not all seizures are epileptic seizures: certain heart conditions and diabetes can also cause them.
Oddly, the condition is commonly diagnosed in those at polar opposites of the age spectrum: children and those over 65. To receive a diagnosis of epilepsy, a patient generally has to have suffered more than one seizure.
Epilepsy Statistics – Caretaker at home
The Epilepsy Action website provides some interesting statistics about the condition.
- Every day, 87 people receive an epilepsy diagnosis.
- Only 52% of people with epilepsy are seizure-free.
- With the correct treatment, an estimated 70% of people could be seizure-free.
- There are around 60 different kinds of seizures, some more severe than others. Epileptic seizures can be life-threatening.
Epilepsy can start at any age and there are different types of the condition. Some forms might only last for a limited amount of time. However, for the majority of sufferers, epilepsy is a lifelong condition.
Causes of Epilepsy
There are several known causes of epilepsy. Some types of epilepsy are genetic, while others can begin after traumatic injuries or illnesses. Here are some of the main causes:
- A brain infection, such as meningitis.
- A stroke.
- A severe head injury.
- Problems during birth, causing the baby to receive less oxygen.
However, in more than half of epilepsy cases, doctors cannot pinpoint the cause. Experts and researchers are working hard to improve our understanding of this condition.
According to the NHS, around one in three people with epilepsy will have a family member with the condition. Scientists are currently studying the genes that might be involved in passing on epilepsy, to see how and why this occurs.
Types of Epileptic Seizure
Epileptic seizures are caused by rapid and erratic electrical impulses from the neurons in the brain. There are lots of different types of seizure. The affects on the person will differ depending on the part of the brain that the seizure affects.
Partial seizures only affect a small part of the brain, and there are two types:
- Simple partial seizures, during which you remain completely conscious but often experience sudden intense emotion and pins and needles in your limbs.
- Complex partial seizures, during which you lose awareness, almost entering a trance, and could forget what happened afterwards.
Generalised seizures affect a much larger portion of the brain, and come in six types:
- Atonic seizures – Cause your muscles to relax instantly, potentially causing a fall.
- Tonic seizures – Cause your muscles to tighten instantly, and carries a similar risk.
- Absences – Last 10 to 20 seconds, during which you stare vacantly into space and lose awareness.
- Myoclonic seizures – Last barely a second and involve an involuntary jerking of the limbs or upper body.
- Clonic seizures – Include similar symptoms to those of myoclonic seizures, but may last several minutes and can cause unconsciousness.
- Tonic-clonic seizures – Are most associated with the ‘image’ of epilepsy. Sufferers become stiff and lose consciousness, their arms and legs twitching. They can last several minutes.
In order for a doctor to diagnose you with epilepsy, they will need to take a detailed description of the types of seizures you have been having. As we have already mentioned, you will usually need to have had multiple seizures before you get a diagnosis.
Your doctor may refer you to a neurologist – a specialist in medical conditions which affect the brain and nerves. This specialist may also suggest having an electroencephalogram (EEG), caretaker at home or a brain scan to look for any problems in your brain.
An EEG can check for unusual electrical activity in the brain, which can be an indicator of epilepsy. A brain scan will spot problems in your brain that can cause the condition, such as an unusual growth, damage to the brain or scarring.
However, even if these tests don’t show anything, it’s still possible that you have epilepsy. You may receive a diagnosis based solely on your symptoms.
Treatment for Epilepsy – Caretaker at home
Though there is currently no cure, there are a range of anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs) that can help sufferers manage their condition. These alter the balance of chemicals responsible for carrying electrical impulses in the brain, in order to prevent seizures. There is a degree of trial and error involved in determining which type of AED is best for each person, and in what dose.
Vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) is another type of treatment. This involves placing a small electrical device under the skin of your chest. This device is attached to a wire which connects to a nerve in your back called the vagus nerve. Electricity is then sent along the wire to the nerve. It is thought that VNS can help control and reduce seizures by changing the electrical signals in the brain.
Some people also find that a ketogenic diet is effective in managing epilepsy and they should have any caretaker at home.
If other treatment is not effective at managing your epilepsy, you could be a candidate for deep brain stimulation (DBS). This is similar to VNS, however the device placed in the chest is connected to wires which go directly to the brain. Electrical impulses sent along these wires can help prevent seizures by changing the electrical signals in the brain.
In extreme cases, neurosurgeons can remove part of the brain to try and relieve epileptic symptoms.
Living with Epilepsy
Epilepsy can affect people in different ways, but there are some general things that you can do to help control their seizures can continue to live safely. Controlling your seizures as much as possible is essential as they can become very dangerous.
Alongside taking all medication according to instructions, you should identify and avoid (where possible) the the triggers of your seizures. Common triggers of seizures include:
- Drinking alcohol.
- Flashing lights.
- Waking up.
- Some medications and illegal drugs.
A good way of identifying these triggers is to keep a seizure diary. Whenever you have a seizure, you should write down what you were doing beforehand. Over time, you might be able to notice a pattern, which could help identify a seizure trigger. Once you understand your triggers, you can take steps to avoid them.
Seizure Safety Tips – Caretaker at Home
For some people with epilepsy, seizures are impossible to avoid. They should have caretaker at home. It’s therefore very important to understand how to keep yourself safe during a seizure. Here are some general tips:
- Cover furniture edges or sharp corners to avoid injury in case of a fall.
- Don’t lock the bathroom door.
- Have a shower instead of a bath – to avoid the risk of drowning.
- Install smoke detectors to let you know if food is burning. You can lose awareness following a seizure.
- Use guards on heaters and radiators so that you don’t fall directly onto them.
- Place saucepans on the back burners and with the handles turned away from the edge of the cooker, so you don’t knock them over during a seizure.
Although you can still take part in sporting activities with epilepsy, experts advise that you don’t go swimming on your own, wear a helmet whilst cycling and horse riding, and that you avoid using certain types of gym equipment.
Once you’ve had a seizure, you will need to inform the Driving and Vehicle Authority (DVLA). You will need to stop driving (at least temporarily). The DVLA may ask you to surrender your licence (this means sending it back to them in the post). Those who have been seizure-free for a year can re-apply for their driving license.