What is Epilepsy

Any medical doctor will agree, that wearing an ICE ID (Medical Emergency Identification) is of utmost importance for Epilepsy patients.

Order yours from www.iceid.co.za

Include info as follows for the engraved tag:
Patients Name and Surname
Next of Kin/Parents Contact Details
Medical Condition – Epilepsy
Chronic Medication Details
Medical Aid Details

What Is Epilepsy?

Epilepsy is a group of related disorders in the brain's electrical systems that are characterized by a tendency to cause recurrent seizures. Seizures cause changes in movement, behavior, sensation, or awareness, including loss of consciousness or convulsions, which last from a few seconds to a few minutes in most individuals. Seizures may occur in children and adults.

Epilepsy is not a form of mental illness or intellectual dysfunction.

Epilepsy Symptoms

Most individuals equate epilepsy with convulsions, but epileptic seizures can produce many different symptoms; two large groups of seizures are termed partial and generalized. Symptoms may range from whole body convulsions to simply staring into space to barely noticeable muscle twitching. Each type of seizure has a distinct set of symptoms.

Absence Seizures

Absence seizures produce symptoms of disconnection from surrounding stimuli; the patient appears "absent from their body" and stares off vacantly for a few seconds and then appears normal and has no memory of the incident. These types of seizures may begin about age 4 to 14; some individuals may experience many per day. Some children and a few adults may have absence seizures for years before they are diagnosed because they last for such a short period of time and caregivers or relatives may not notice the seizures.
Generalized Tonic Clonic Seizures

In contrast to absence seizures, generalized tonic clonic seizures (grand mall seizures) are easily recognized. These seizures usually begin with stiffening of the arms and legs followed by jerking motions of the limbs. Many individuals may fall from a standing position when the seizure occurs; bladder or bowel control may be lost and the person may bite their tongue and/or cheek tissue. The convulsions may last up to about three minutes, after which the person may be feel weak and confused. Tonic clonic seizures that last more than five minutes constitute a medical emergency – Netcare/ER24 should be called.

Partial Seizures

While tonic clonic seizures usually involve all of the brain, partial seizures involve just one side of the brain. Partial seizures may be classified as simple or complex. Simple seizures usually involve a single part of the brain such as the motor area, sensory area, or others. The symptoms are related to the area affected; for example, the motor area will result in a change in motor activity such as a jerking finger or hand movement, or if in the sensory area, hearing sounds or smelling odors that are not present. Complex partial seizures occur in the frontal or temporal lobe with the brain and often involve other areas of the brain that affect alertness and awareness. These seizures result in daydream like states and sometimes involve unusual activities like picking at the air as if something was there, repeating words or phrases, laughing, or other activities.

Causes of Epilepsy

The specific cause for epilepsy is unknown for about half of all epileptic patients according to the Epilepsy Foundation. However, there are a number of conditions that can result in epilepsy

    birth defects
    deprivation of oxygen to the brain
    severe head injuries
    brain infections
    brain tissue alteration (for example, Alzheimer's disease)

Epilepsy in Children

Some children who develop epilepsy may outgrow the condition in a few years. However, many children prevent seizures by taking regular medication. Approximately 70 to 80% of children can have their condition controlled completely. If your child has seizures that still occur sporadically with medication, discuss their situation with the school staff so your child can safely continue to do most classroom activities.
Diagnosis: EEG

The diagnosis of epilepsy begins with a medical history and physical exam along with a detailed history that describes individual's seizures. In addition, other tests such as an EEG (electroencephalogram) that records the brain's electrical activity, or a CT or MRI of the brain, and blood tests may also be done.
Diagnosis: Brain Scan

Images from the CT or MRI scans are useful because they help the physician identify certain causes of seizures such as tumors or blood clots or they may suggest other causes responsible for the seizures. These tests are considered essential by most physicians to help plan how to treat the individual patient.

First Aid for Seizures

First aid for seizures involves keeping the person safe until the seizure stops, and/or calling Er24/Netcare. Call emergency services for a seizure lasting more than five minutes, if it recurs, or if the seizing patient is pregnant, injured, or diabetic. Contact the name of the patients next-of-kin listed on their ICE ID to let them know about the seizure.

Keep yourself and others around you calm. Keeping the seizing patient safe involves a few simple procedures such as preventing any further injury by removing anything hard or sharp adjacent to the patient, placing the patient flat the floor on something soft like a jacket a blanket. Remove eyeglasses and removing ties or anything around the neck that may inhibit breathing. Do not restrain the person seizing or try to stop their movements. Turn the patient onto his or her side and put something soft beneath the patient's head to help breathing. Do not place anything inside the person's mouth. Time the seizure; if it lasts five minutes or longer, call emergency services.

When the patient returns to consciousness, be reassuring (call them by their name listed on their ICE ID - this creates a relationship straight away) and helpful and stay with the patient until they are fully alert.

Credit - Article Source: MedicineNet.com