New Telegraph

The Tale of a Non Contagious Central Nervous System Disorder

The scene

TT has always been interested in gym- nastics, it’s something he’s done up to until 8 years ago when he sustained a devastating head injury that changed his life forever. On a particular morning 4 years ago, he went out to another part of town as usu- al, having taken his first meal of the day at around 8:30am. About mid way in his journey, he started feeling what he’s never felt before; sudden gush of saliva that seem to have emanated from multiples springs filled his mouth.

Then he felt an involuntary twitching of his eye lids but he subsequent- ly felt better. The last memory he had was having alighted from the bus and then a blackout! He regained awareness by hear- ing noises from a distant land, wet from head downwards and hordes flies around his waist area pointed to the fact that the unfortunate had happened! He was informed that he suddenly fell, jerked repeatedly, foamed from the mouth and in the process water was poured on him by well wishers. He’s had about 6 epi- sodes of seizures since this baseline experi- ence, He recently commenced the usage of medications and he sincerely hope that the effects will be positively magical.

What is Epilepsy?

It is a long term central nervous system disorder, the hallmark of which is recurrent, unprovoked seizures which may be associated with periods of unusual behavior, sensations, and sometimes loss of aware- ness. A person is diagnosed with epilepsy if they have two unprovoked seizures (or one unprovoked seizure with the likelihood of more) that were not caused by some known and reversible medical condition like alco- hol withdrawal or extremely low blood sugar. Epileptic seizures are the result of excessive and abnormal neuronal activity in the cortex of the brain Anyone can develop epilepsy, but it’s more common in young children and older adults.

It occurs slightly more in males than in females.

The genesis

Epilepsy occurs as a result of abnormal electrical activity originating in the brain. Brain cells communicate by sending electrical signals in an orderly pattern. In epilepsy, these electrical signals become abnormal, giving rise to an “electrical storm” that pro- duces seizures. These storms may be within a specific part of the brain or be generalized, depending on the type of epilepsy. Myths  Fluid from a lizard can cause it  Saliva from an epileptic could in- duce same in others Types There are two main types of seizures. Generalized seizures affect the whole brain. Focal, or partial seizures, affect just one part of the brain. Focal (partial) seizure can be either Simple or Com- plex while Generalized seizure has 6 types ; Absence seizure, Tonic seizure, Atonic sei- zure, Clonic seizure, Myoclonic seizure and Tonic-clonic seizure.

Causes

• It can be either by Nature (one could be born with it) or could be Nurtured (acquired causes). These 2 factors may overlap in some cases.

Acquired causes include;

• Chemical imbalance such as low blood sugar or sodium

• Head injuries

• Certain toxic chemicals or drugs of abuse

• Alcohol withdrawal

• Stroke, including hemorrhage

• Birth injuries

• Tumors

Symptoms

Seizures are the main symptom of epilepsy. Symptoms differ from person to person and according to the type of seizure.

Focal (partial) seizures A simple partial seizure doesn’t involve loss of consciousness.

Symptoms include:

• alterations to sense of taste, smell, sight, hearing, or touch

• dizziness

• tingling and twitching of limbs Complex partial seizures involve loss of awareness or consciousness.

Other symptoms include:

• staring blankly

• unresponsiveness

• performing repetitive move- ments Generalized seizures Generalized seizures involve the whole brain.

There are six types: Absence seizures, which used to be called “petit mal seizures,” cause a blank stare. This type of seizure may also cause repetitive movements like lip smacking or blinking. There’s also usually a short loss of awareness. Tonic seizures cause muscle stiffness. Atonic seizures lead to loss of muscle control and can make you fall down sud- denly. Clonic seizures are characterized by repeated, jerky muscle movements of the face, neck, and arms. Myoclonic seizures cause spontaneous quick twitching of the arms and legs. Tonic-clonic seizures used to be called “grand mal seizures.”

Symptoms include:

• stiffening of the body

• shaking

• loss of bladder or bowel control

• biting of the tongue

• loss of consciousness

What are some commonly reported triggers?

• Specific time of day or night

• Sleep deprivation– overtired, not sleeping well, not getting enough sleep

• At times of fevers or other illnesses

• Flashing bright lights or patterns

• Alcohol or drug use

• Stress

• Associated with menstrual cycle (women) or other hormonal changes

• Not eating well, low blood sugar

• Specific foods, excess caffeine or other products that may aggravate seizures

• Use of certain medications The best way to identify a trigger is to keep an ‘’Epilepsy journal’’ which details the dates, events, food etc that are associated with each seizure. Treatment Treatment with medications or sometimes surgery can control seizures for the majority of people with epilepsy. Some people require life long treatment to control seizures, but for others, the seizures eventually go away. Some children with epilepsy may outgrow the condition with age. What to do in a non hospital setting When a seizure occurs, an observer can do the following to prevent injuries.

• Cushion the person’s head.

• Loosen any tight neckwear.

• Turn the person on his or her side.

• Do not hold the person down or restrain the person.

• Do not place anything in the mouth or try to pry the teeth apart. The person is not in danger of swallowing his or hertongue.

• Observe seizure characteristics-length, type of movements, direction of head or eye turning. These characteristics may help the doctor diagnose the type of seizure.

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