Seizure disorders

November 12, 2012

Seizure disorders

Seizures are generally caused by some malfunction in the brain and can be triggered by many different things.

Seizure disorders are the result of abnormal electrical signals in the brain; many people experience one seizure whilst others may have recurrent episodes – considered to be the condition known as epilepsy. Childhood epilepsy is frequently outgrown and whilst epilepsy may occur at any age it is most often seen in the elderly. Anyone who experiences even one seizure should seek medical advice due to the possible consequences of a seizure when driving or other activity.

Causes of seizure disorders

For many sufferers of seizure disorders there remains no known cause. However some factors which may result in seizures include -

  • Head injury

  • Dementia

  • Pre natal brain injury

  • Certain medical conditions – such as meningitis

  • High fever

  • Stroke or heart attack

  • Genes – research has identified a specific genetic link in epilepsy.

Seizure classification

Seizure disorders have two classifications -

Partial seizures may be simple or complex

  • Simple partial seizures include involuntary twitching; vision disturbances; dizziness; unusual taste or smell sensations. There will be no loss of consciousness.

  • Complex partial seizure generally present with similar symptoms to a simple seizure but with some loss of consciousness or awareness. The patient may also be seen engaging in repetitive behavior or appear to be staring.

Generalized seizures involve more or all of the brain

  • Petit Mal (absence) seizures – symptoms include staring and a brief loss of consciousness.

  • Myoclonic seizures – jerking and twitching of limbs will be noted.

  • Grand Mal (Tonic-clonic) seizures – prior to this sort of seizure a patient may often experience an aura or other signal that a seizure is imminent, Grand Mal seizures may last up to twenty minutes and symptoms include loss of consciousness, body jerking and loss of bladder control.

Treatment

After diagnosis, the goal of any treatment regime is stop the occurrence of further seizures, minimize side effects from the necessary drugs and help the patient to continue to live a full and normal life.

Medication

Any individual with a seizure disorder will generally be prescribed medication to control the episodes. As many as 70% of those who experience a seizure will have a second within twelve months. There are a number of medications available and the medical practitioner will work with the patient to find the best combination for them. Medication may include sedatives and anticonvulsants. It may take some time for the correct medication regime to be established during which time the patient will be closely monitored by the medical practitioner.

Nutrition

Studies in children have discovered that a diet which is high in fat and low in protein and carbohydrates may help to control the frequency of seizures. This diet is extremely rigid and needs to be followed carefully, vitamin and mineral supplements may be required, but, before embarking on a diet change as drastic as this one medical advice must be sought.

Herbal supplements

Many people use herbs as a safe way to maintain and strengthen their body. Since some supplements may have an adverse effect on the medications prescribed for patients with a seizure disorder it is important to speak to the health care provider before beginning to take any dietary supplements.

Herbal supplements may be taken as a tea or in capsule form; some are also available as tinctures. Whilst there is no scientific evidence that herbs are of any benefit to seizure patients they have, nevertheless, been used for many years to alleviate the symptoms.

Homeopathy

As with herbal supplements few studies have considered the benefits of homeopathic treatments for patients with seizures. However a professional homeopathic practitioner will be able to recommend a treatment regime. An experienced practitioner will assess physical, emotional and intellectual factors before deciding on an appropriate remedy.

Physical therapy

Where seizures are believed to be the result of head trauma, or for children, some physical therapy such as chiropractic, osteopathic or naturopathic manipulation.

Any other alternative treatment methods should be undertaken with the full knowledge of your main health care provider.

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