Saturday, May 30, 2009

Epilepsy questions answered...

Thanks for those that asked questions about Epilepsy. I'll try to answer them as thoroughly as I can...

What exactly causes a seizure?
A seizure is caused by an abnormal electrical response in the brain. There are lots of causes of seizures which include structural brain abnormalities, metabolic disturbances like low blood sugar, infection, brain injury...

Is it your brain shutting down?

No. A seizure happens when there is an abnormal electrical surge.

In Emeric's case, are seizures the main symptom of epilepsy or are there other attributes of the disease?

I hope I'm understanding this correctly... Epilepsy is defined as having 2 or more seizures that are not provoked by something like a fever. People with epilepsy are more likely than the general population to have learning disabilities, mental retardation or other health problems and these can be a direct result of the seizures affecting the brain but it may also be due to side effects of medication.

In Emeric's case the Epilepsy is considered symptomatic which means there's something causing the seizures. You could also say he had a seizure disorder because really seizure disorder and Epilepsy are pretty interchangeable. Emeric's other symptoms like low muscle tone, heat intolerance, reflux, etc. are not caused by the seizures but by a metabolic condition. This metabolic condition also causes his seizures.

I hope I understood this question correctly and answered without too much confusion! :)

Can a person with Epilepsy live on their own, or do they need to be supervised?

A person with Epilepsy can live on their own and many do. It really depends on how well their seizures are controlled with medication and the type of seizure they have. For example, if someone has brief absence seizures that last 10 seconds or so and don't cause a loss of consciousness there wouldn't be a real danger posed by being alone. However, if a person frequently experienced tonic clonic seizures or drop seizures which causes a person to lose muscle tone and fall to the floor there's a bigger risk for injury.

Mental retardation of varying degrees is common in Epilepsy and would be a factor in determining if someone could live alone. Mental retardation is very poorly understood and some people with mental retardation can live independently.

Also, are there different types of Epilepsy?

There are many different types of Epilepsy and many different seizure types.

Symptomatic Epilepsy is when there's an underlying cause for the seizures.
Idiopathic Epilepsy is the term used when no cause for the seizures is found.

Seizures are either generalized or partial. Generalized seizures occur when the entire brain is affected. Tonic clonic, absence(staring spells) and myoclonic seizures are generalized. There are many other types of generalized seizures but those are the most well known types. Emeric has atypical absence seizures which are also generalized and similiar to absence seizures but, you guessed it, not typical! :)

Partial seizures occur when one part of the brain is affected. Sometimes it's a very specific area of the brain and sometimes it's the temporal lobe or a larger area of the brain but not the entire brain. Partial seizures are sometimes referred to as "petit mal" and include complex partial seizures.


Those are pretty brief answers but hopefully will explain a bit more about Epilepsy as I think most people have very limited knowledge of even what a seizure is. I know I did!!


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