Epilepsy is the name given to seizures (fits) that occur when the regular neurone (nerve cell) activity in the brain is disturbed. This disturbance leads to a series of involuntary movements and/or a loss of consciousness, after which brain cell activity returns to normal.
What causes epilepsy?
There are a variety of possibilities: genetic, head injury, stroke, drug/alcohol use or chemical imbalances in the body. For some, a seizure may occur when an external factor is present, such as lights flashing at a particular speed.
How is epilepsy diagnosed?
You may need blood tests initially. Following this, two further tests are possible: electro-encephalogram (EEG) and a computerised (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan of the brain.
How is epilepsy treated?
Treatment is then by drugs, usually anti-convulsants, which work by reducing the number of signals that the brain’s nerve cells send to each other. A combination of drugs may be needed in order to get the best results for each individual.
How can I help myself?
* Identify the likely factors which trigger a seizure – keeping a written record after they occur may help.
* Alert family, friends and work colleagues about the practical steps to take in the event of a seizure.
* Talk to family and friends about any effects that the seizures are having on your enjoyment of life.
* Achieve a balance in your life: choose types of physical activity which you enjoy, a range of food and drink, rest during the day as well as enough sleep at night.
* Wear a ‘Medicare’ wristband to alert strangers to your condition should the necessity arise.