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Epileptic Seizures by Melissa Rodgers

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The topic I chose to research and write about is epilepsy because I have recently raised my brow to the fact that when an individual has a seizure that does not mean that they are automatically diagnosed with the condition epilepsy. In fact, as defined, epilepsy basically is a brain disorder in which a person has recurring seizures. A seizure is a disturbance in the brain’s electrical activity causing the individual to change their behavior and/or attention; an example may include when an individual stops what they are doing to stare off into space.

The test performed most often to diagnose epilepsy is an EEG or electroencephalogram, which tests for the brain’s electrical activity. Individuals with epilepsy constantly have abnormal electrical activity in their brains, even when they aren’t having a seizure. There are several other ways to diagnose epilepsy including; blood tests, brain scans(CT, PET, & MRI), medical history, and behavioral tests which all aid in diagnosis and may give doctors help in identifying the type of epilepsy to effectively treat the patient.

Typically, a person who is diagnosed with epilepsy has their first seizure between ages 5 and 20 years of age. There are many types of epilepsy and when a doctor makes a diagnosis is usually one of the following: Focal, generalized, cryptogenic, partial, idiopathic, or cryptogenic. Each of these types of epilepsy has its characteristics relating to its symptoms and treatments, and they all are caused or triggered by something different. There are causes ranging from unknown to genetic factors that have predetermined the individual to have epilepsy. In two-thirds of epilepsy cases reported, doctors were unable to determine what caused it and those individuals may never know why they have seizures.  Symptoms of epilepsy vary among individuals and may last from a few seconds to as long as a few minutes.

An individual may be able to tell when they are getting ready to have a seizure and experience what is known as an aura. An aura is a change in vision, hearing, taste, or smell; light may be brighter, or there may be a funny taste or smell out of nowhere, basically, something different is going on and something is about to happen. When this occurs a person may be able to brace themselves or find a safe place out of harm’s way to avoid an injury that may take place because of convulsions, which are uncontrollable movements of the body.

Several factors can trigger a seizure including but not limited to; drugs, alcohol, stress, brain injury, insomnia, or drugs that get in the way of prescribed seizure medication. Treatment varies from one individual to another ranging from medication to surgery. Medications that are used to treat epilepsy often have side effects and when doses are missed the individual puts themselves at a great risk of having a seizure. Having surgery that entails the brain is very risky and could result in possible death.

Epilepsy is a very unpredictable and sometimes difficult condition to effectively treat and monitor. It seems that there is a lot of research that can still be done on this disorder.  A seizure can occur once in an individual’s life and that will be that, but there are individuals having seizures all of the time. Epilepsy may be diagnosed and there may be no reason why this happens. It is an area that needs much focus to provide preventative diagnosis and treatment.




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