Friday, April 07, 2006

Epilepsy: No more Fear

Many people with epilepsy restrict their activities, fearing injury during seizures, even if the disease is well controlled. But those fears appear to be overblown, a new Mayo Clinic study concludes.

The study, which was published last week in the journal Neurology, examined the medical records of 247 epilepsy patients who were followed for an average of 10 years. It found that only 39 of them suffered seizure-related injuries and that most of them were minor, usually bruises to the head.

The bulk of the injuries occurred among people with the most serious cases: those with uncontrolled seizures, with generalized convulsions or drop attacks, or those who had suffered injuries in falls in the past, according one of the study's authors, Dr. Elson L. So of the Mayo Clinic. Frequency of seizures was the strongest predictor of injury, he said.

Dr. So said that being too cautious carried its own risks, possibly resulting in "social isolation, physical inactivity and psychological dependency."

He advises people with epilepsy outside the high-risk category to take basic safety measures like wearing helmets while biking. They may also consider having companions or supervision for more dangerous activities like swimming.

Those at higher risk should work with their doctors to bring their seizures under the tightest possible control, he said. They should avoid driving and stress and should modify their homes to reduce the chance of accidents or injury, he said.

An editorial accompanying the article noted that a loosening of restrictions for drivers with epilepsy had not been accompanied by noticeably higher accident rates.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Epileptics are Special

by Derek Miller

Have you been diagnosed as epileptic? Are you a family member, or friend or partner of someone who has? Please be reassured.

There have always been people with epilepsy . Since the dawn of time, epilepsy has affected millions of people, from beggars to kings. It is one of the oldest conditions of the human race with a rich and distinguished history.

The earliest references to epilepsy date back to the fifth millennium B.C. in Mesopotamia, where epileptic auras, generalized convulsions and other aspects of what these ancient people called "the falling disease" were recorded with remarkably accurate descriptions.

Ancient people thought epileptic seizures were caused by evil spirits or demons that had invaded a person's body. Priests attempted to cure people with epilepsy by driving the demons out of them with magic and prayers. This superstition was challenged by ancient physicians like Atreya of India and later Hippocrates of Greece, both of whom recognized a seizure as a dysfunction of the brain and not a supernatural event.

On the other hand, epileptic seizures have a power and symbolism which, historically, have suggested a relationship with creativity or unusual leadership abilities. Scholars have long been fascinated by evidence that prominent prophets and other holy men, political leaders, philosophers, and many who achieved great-ness in the arts and sciences, suffered from epilepsy. Aristotle was apparently the first to connect epilepsy and genius. His catalogue of "great epileptics" (which included Socrates) was added to during the Renaissance. Only people from Western culture were included, however. So strong was this tradition that even in the nineteenth century, when new names of "great epileptics" were added, they were rarely chosen from among people in other parts of the world. Working from this biased historical legacy, the famous people with epilepsy that we know about, are primarily white males.

But what about this so-called "epilepsy and genius" connection? Certainly, most people with epilepsy would not consider their seizure disorder as something which enhances their natural abilities.

According to Dr. Jerome Engel, Professor of Neurology at the University of California School of Medicine and author of the book Seizures and Epilepsy: "There is no evidence... that either epileptic seizures or a predisposition to epilepsy is capable of engendering exceptional talents. Rather, the occasional concurrence of epilepsy and genius most likely reflects the probability that a common disorder will at times afflict people with uncommon potential."

Interested in this subject? Try this link for more of the same

Ten Tips for People with Epilepsy

1. The goal is zero seizures and zero side-effects.

If you are still having seizures or more than minimal side-effects from your anticonvulsant medication, then you have unfinished business. The holy grail of seizure management is to stop them entirely, and to do so without significant side-effects from the treatment used to stop them.

Continuing seizure activity is not good for either the brain or body. When seizures have not been stopped, the seizures you're still having might change the brain in a way that makes it easier for future seizures to occur. Also, people with uncontrolled seizures are more likely to fall and hurt themselves than people without seizures. Moreover, driving a car will probably not be feasible until the seizures have been stopped.

2. Don't blab.

Your medical information is confidential, and you should play your medical cards close to your chest. Don't volunteer information to non-medical people who don't need to have it. Once the information is out, you have no control over how it is used or mis-used. Unfortunately, some individuals still have backwards ideas and attitudes about epilepsy. Don't give them an opening to mess with your life.

3. Don't lie.

If others have a legitimate need to know about your epilepsy, you should stick to the truth, though you shouldn't necessarily add information that is not requested. People with a "need to know" might include your employer, your insurer and the Bureau of Motor Vehicles.

Here is an example of one of many reasons you shouldn't lie: Suppose you're the driver of a car involved in an accident. If you lied to your insurance company about your epilepsy, they might refuse to pay based on your fraudulent application, whether you had a seizure or not!

One escape clause is that if you have had just one lifetime seizure, then it is medically correct to say you don't have epilepsy. A minimum of two seizures is required to establish the diagnosis of epilepsy.

4. Take your medication regularly.

The best medicine in the world won't work if you don't take it properly. I have the greatest sympathy for people who need to take medication for seizures. When I miss a dose of my antihistamine, the only consequence is that my nose runs, but people who miss a dose of seizure medication might pay for it with a seizure.

However, assuming you're human, at some point or another you'll screw up and forget a dose. Work out a plan with your doctor for what to do when that happens.

5. Don't fixate on drug blood-levels.

Don't confuse a tool with a goal. The goal is to have no seizures and no side-effects, not to produce a certain number on a laboratory report. In selected situations, drug blood-levels can be useful tools, but sometimes the patient, doctor, or both, get fixated on them and lose sight of the big picture.

A neurology professor summed this up nicely: "Managing a seizure disorder by only watching the blood-levels is like driving a car by only watching the speedometer. Sometimes you need to look up and see where you're going!"

Obsessing over drug blood-levels can lead to sad consequences. For example, if the blood-level happens to fall within the suggested range of numbers printed on the lab slip, the patient and doctor might conclude that everything humanly possible is already being done. But if the patient is still having seizures, more work is still needed.

It is also unfortunate when the patient and doctor assume that a blood-level outside the "normal range" is bad. Some patients might actually do best on a blood-level that is higher than the printed range, or, alternatively, do just fine on a blood-level below the range. The printed range is just a rough guideline.

6. Keep regular hours.

I know that you are an exciting, vibrant human being. But sometimes it's in your best interest to behave as if you are a dull person, waking up at the same hour every morning and retiring at the same hour every night. Disruptions in the sleep-cycle can lower the threshold for having seizures. As an example, one man in my practice never achieved perfect seizure control while working swing-shifts, but became perfectly seizure-free when he went on straight day-shifts.

7. Keep records.

In the process of medication adjustment leading to perfect seizure-control, an accurate tally of the numbers of seizures per span of time is an essential tool in judging whether or not you are on the right track. Women should also chart their menstrual periods. Sometimes there is a correlation between seizures and the menstrual cycle.

8. Communicate with your doctor.

The smartest doctors in the world can't fix problems they don't know about. If you're still having seizures or experiencing side-effects from seizure medication, chances are that your doctor would appreciate a phone call about it. The advice you receive will allow you to make better use of your time than if you wait until the next appointment to report problems.

9. Talk to your doctor about pregnancy.

If you're planning on becoming pregnant, then the time to mention this to your doctor is before you become pregnant. Your medication might need to change in order to optimize your outcome. Once you are pregnant, this option is less available. In any case, you and every other woman of child-bearing potential should take at least 800 micrograms (0.8 milligrams) of folic acid (also known as folate) daily in order to minimize the chance of fetal malformation. Once you discover you are pregnant, you might already be past the time at which the folic acid was most needed. Taking it regularly is the safest course of action.

10. The goal is zero seizures and zero side-effects.

Yes, I know I'm repeating myself, but it's just that important!

(C) 2005 by Gary Cordingley
Gary Cordingley - EzineArticles Expert Author

Gary Cordingley, MD, PhD, is a clinical neurologist, teacher and researcher. For more health-related articles see his website at: http://www.cordingleyneurology.com

The Causes Of Epilepsy

Commonly known as a seizure disorder, epilepsy is a chronic neurological condition which causes seizures to arise often, and unprovoked. The word "Epilepsy" is named by the Greek. It means to "take hold of" or "to seize". Surgical methods are sometimes used to treat this condition, but medication is the general and more common method.

Not every cause of epilepsy is known to humans, but many probable factors have been identified. These factors include brian damage, head trauma, high fever, bacterial encephalitis, intoxication, acute disturbances of metabolism, brain tumor, and other penetrating wounds to the head. The largest cause of epilepsy, however, is hereditary or genetic.

Any person can endure an epileptic seizure under certian circumstances. The seizures can be provoked by drug overdoses, or in some cases even acute illness. The condition epilepsy, however, does not apply to these people. Epilepsy is defined by recurring, unprovoked seizures, although there is controversy over symptoms required to be diagnosed with the disease.

Only 1 percent of the worlds population suffers from epilepsy according to its criteria, however, it is estimated that there is a slightly higher percentage of actual conditions. Most of this percentage is found in persons under the age of 19, or over the age of 65. The diagnosis criteria for epileptics is widely controversial in the field of medicine. Partial - complex seizures can arguably be considered epileptic, which is why the controversy continues.

Tyler Brooker is the owner and operator of Epilepsy Spot - http://www.epilepsyspot.com, which is the best site on the internet for all epilepsy related information.

Know Epilepsy
By Mansi Aggarwal

Amongst the diseases that have frequently gripped Americans, Epilepsy is also the one. Though epilepsy allows its patients to lead a normal life yet the disease can be fatal due to the unexpected occurrence of seizures. Epilepsy can basically be defined as a disorder of the nervous system that causes a person to become unconscious suddenly, often with violent movements of the body. This attack that affects the individual’s brain is termed as ‘seizure’.

Seizures happen due to the large electrical activity in the cranium (the bone structure that forms the head and borders and protects the brain). An epileptic is hit by a seizure suddenly any time and anywhere. Every individual has his own resistance to fight these seizures which is known as the seizure threshold. The minimum the seizure threshold, frequent are the seizure attacks and impacts. Seizures vary from person to person; a person during this attack behaves according to the kind of seizure.

Causes of Epilepsy

It is very difficult to trace the exact foundations of this disease. However, there is a threefold division made in this regard-

1. Symptomatic Epilepsy- the case of epilepsy in which the reasons behind the disease can be well known. The causes can be various such as head injuries, meningitis, brain stroke and any other brain infection etc. The knowledge of the causes leads to an adequate and appropriate drug medication which varies from person to person.

2. Idiopathic Epilepsy – is the case when no lucid causes behind epilepsy seizures are revealed. Having a low seizure threshold is often deemed to be the only reason behind it. But, idiopathic epilepsy does respond well to its treatment by drugs.

3. Cryptogenic Epilepsy- it is the most challenging kind of epilepsy for the doctors for no reasons to it are known and medicines too are not much effective.

Preventing and Healing Epilepsy- Diet is often given importance in case of epilepsy. This is because many epilepsy patients are found to have less of omega-3 fatty acid DHA in their blood. So, a diet rich in this like the fatty fish, canned tuna are often recommended to make up this deficiency.

Since epilepsy is read and administered differently in case of men, women and children, the remedies too differ in each case. For instance, epileptic children are mostly advised a diet which is rich in fats, adequate proteins and low in carbohydrates.

Apart form diet prescription; epileptic patients are given anti-epileptic or anti-convulsion drugs. These drugs are mean to control and prevent the seizures. These drugs increase the patient’s seizure threshold and avert the electrical charges in the brain that can cause seizures. Anti – convulsion drugs are found to be quite successful in controlling seizures. For many people stress busters, biofeedback, acupuncture and meditation are cures to epilepsy.

Epilepsy Patients

Epileptic seizures can be quite scary for the rest of the public. Seizures can result in numbness, dizziness, and plucking clothes, smacking lips, swallowing and wandering around. Atonic seizures lead to a fall due to unexpected loss of muscle control; strong jerks to the body and at times even loss of consciousness are involved in myoclonic seizures and the most dreadful Tonic- clonic seizures result in an unconscious and stiffened body and loss of oxygen due to irregular breathing.

But if any such seizure happens in public or at home, it is the duty of the rest to help the patient. Don’t start hitting that person, stuff his mouth with something and give him some eatables or drinks. Just try to prevent him from any serious injury. Put some cushions near his head if at home or take the person to a roadside safe place if seizure hits publicly. Call an ambulance as fast as possible or rush to the nearest hospital.

Mansi aggarwal writes about. epilepsy Learn more at http://www.knowaboutepilepsy.com

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Mansi_Aggarwal