Epilepsy

Epilepsy is an elusive neurological disorder with a broad range of symptoms, widely differing degrees of severity, and much mystery about why it strikes. In all cases, however, it re-sults from electrical storms in the brain-erratic discharging by neurons. The electrical misfiring of brain cells produces epilepsy's characteristic seizures, which may occur infrequently or in rapid succession.

While every case of epilepsy is distinct, a standardized classification scheme has been developed to describe seizures. The attacks are divided into two main types: generalized (involving the entire brain) and partial (misfirings originating in one area of the brain).

Within these categories, seizures are further identified according to the pattern of the attack. The two most common forms of seizure are both of the general type: a petit mal seizure, which may include such symptoms as swallowing motions or staring, and (,in recur many times in a day; and a grand mal seizure, which may begin with a cry, a loss of consciousness, and a fall, followed by rigidity, then jerking motions, a period of confusion, and sometimes deep sleep. Among the partial types are temporal lobe seizures, which may be preceded by a vague feeling of abdominal discomfort, sensory hallucination, and distorted perceptions such as deja vu; and Jacksonian seizures, with localized twitching of muscles that sometimes spreads to the whole body.

The first signs of epilepsy are usually seen in childhood or adolescence. Very young children with high fevers may have convulsions, but this is not true epilepsy, and such seizures generally disappear after the age of three.

Causes

Most cases of epilepsy are of unknown origin. Sometimes, however, a genetic basis is indicated, and other cases may be traceable to birth trauma, lead poisoning, congenital brain infection, head injury, alcohol or drug addiction, or the effects of organ disease. Triggers for the attacks also vary widely. Among the factor, that can bring on attacks are certain chemicals or foods, sleep deprivation, stress, flashing lights menstruation, some prescription and over-the-counter medications, and possibly oral contraceptive.

Diagnostic and Test Procedures

An electroencephalogram (EEGI performed on a sleep-deprived individual can reveal abnormal brain waves characteristic of epilepsy, and imaging tests such as an MRI or CT scan can identify physical traurna that may be causing seizures.

Treatment

Epilepsy can often be well controlled by medication. A recommended precaution for epileptics is to wear a Medic Alert bracelet so that other people can quickly recognize what is happening during a seizure and lend effective assistance.

Conventional Medicine

In the great majority of cases, seizures can be reduced in frequency and severity or eliminated altogether with regular medication; side effects vary, but most are mild. Anticonvulsants commonly prescribed include phenytoin, phenobarbital, valproic acid, carbamazepine, and gabapentin.

Alternative Choices

Self-medication should never be practiced in place of a doctor's care, and your doctor should be aware of all separate treatments to avoid any drug incompatibility. There is no substitute for the benefits of prescribed drug therapy.

Homeopathy

You may want to consider consulting a homeopath if conventional prescription drugs are not completely controlling seizures. Homeopathic remedies can serve as an effective adjunct to conventional drugs, but don't expect results overnight; the homeopath will advise you on how long it will be before treatments begin to work.

Mind/Body Medicine

Electroencephalogram biofeedback may be effective in helping epileptics alter their brain waves to prevent seizures. With guidance, they learn to control their own brain waves by watching them on a computer screen.

Osteopathy

When epilepsy appears to have resulted from a physical injury, cranial osteopathy or craniosacral therapy may help; consult an osteopath.

At-Home Remedies

Prevention

Identify and watch for particular foods, environments, or physical and emotional signs that precede attacks. It's not uncommon, for example, to feel annoyed or elated several hours prior to a grand mal seizure, and immediately before the attack, to become aware of a warning "aura" perhaps a taste or smell; this warning may allow you to lie down in time to avoid falling.

In cases where the aura is a smell, some people are able to fight off seizures by sniffing a strong odor, such as garlic or roses. When the preliminary signs include depression, irritability, or headache, an extra dose of medication (with a doctor's approval) may help prevent an attack.

In the case of a Jacksonian seizure, firmly squeezing the muscles around those that are twitching can sometimes halt the attack.

Source : Alternative Medicine

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