What is epilepsy?
Epilepsy is an ongoing liability to seizures.
Seizures are caused by abnormal electrical discharges in the brain. About 1 in 100 people have a seizure at some point in their life, sometimes triggered by a fever or head injury, but only about 1 in 200 go on to have further seizures and it is only when a person has had more than one seizure that a diagnosis of epilepsy is made.
Seizures can be generalised or partial seizures depending on whether the abnormal electrical discharge affect the whole of the brain or just one part of the brain. Some patients may experience a warning or 'aura' before a partial seizure such as an abnormal smell or taste.
During a generalised seizure a person will be unconscious and may become rigid, convulse, bite their tongue and be incontinent of urine. During a partial seizure people may stare blankly ahead or may fidget with their hands or smack their lips.
At Circle, we can diagnose epilepsy and assist you to manage the seizures. It is first important to find out if there is a cause for the seizures. This may involve a brain scan (MRI) and an electroencephalogram (EEG).
Treatment is usually recommended when there have been two or more seizures without any obvious triggering factors such as a fever. Treatment is usually anti-convulsant medication taken as tablets, there are many different drugs available and the doctor will discuss with the patient which one may suit you best. Sometimes two or more drugs will be necessary to gain full control of the seizures.
Rarely, if the brain scan has shown a definite abnormality, surgery can be used to remove the cause of the epilepsy. Good treatment is important because seizures can be dangerous. A person with epilepsy cannot legally drive until they have been seizure free for 12 months.