Epilepsy is a relatively common condition which affects 0.5% to 1% of the population. About 2.5 million people in the United States have epilepsy and 9% of Americans will have at least one seizure in their lifetime. Despite the fact this is not an uncommon condition; many people don't know too much about epilepsy.
First, What Is Epilepsy?
Epilepsy is a neurological disorder in which nerve cell's activity in the brain becomes disrupted. This causes seizures or periods of unusual behaviors, sensations and sometimes loss of consciousness. But not all people who appear to have seizure have epilepsy. There are many different types of epilepsy which will be discussed below.
This condition which causes partial seizure is called focal epilepsy because the seizures begin at a specific location within the brain. The electrical charges that cause the seizure start in a specific area in the brain, although more of the brain may become affected during the seizure. Focal seizures can cause many different symptoms depending on which lobe the seizure started.
Our temporal lobes perform functions such as speech, hearing, emotions, memory and learning. Those who are experiencing a temporal lobes seizure may lose their consciousness or may stay partially conscious during the seizure. These seizures usually last between 30 seconds to 2 minutes.
Symptoms include experiencing deja-vu, feeling frightened, feeling a rising sensation in the stomach, having a strange smell or taste, and experiencing other automatic behavior such as lip smacking, staring, and repeated swallowing.
Most people that have this epilepsy develop it at the end their first or second decade, following either an early injury to the brain or a seizure with fever. In women, hormonal influences during the ovulation and menstrual cycle may lead to increased seizures during their menstrual cycle.
Frontal lobes perform more complex tasks concerning decision making, problem solving, consciousness, emotions and behavior. Amongst the many types of epilepsy, this one has symptoms that are often mistaken for a sleep disorder or mental problem and they usually last less than 30 seconds. Often time, frontal lobes seizures happen when patient is asleep.
People may experience symptoms such as:
- Having difficulty breathing or not being aware of surroundings
- Moving your eyes or head to one side
- Swearing, screaming or laughing
- Showing uncommon body movements like stretching one arm while the other one is bent
- Having movements in repetition like pedaling, rocking, etc.
Frontal lobe seizures can be caused by abnormal brain tissue, old stroke or trauma, abnormal blood vessels, scars from prior infections, rarely tumors and several other causes. It can also be genetic and may run in families. However, no cause is determined in about half of the cases.
This part of our brain is responsible for processing language, math skills, writing and processing of information from different senses of the body. Partial lobes seizure affects about 1 in 20 people with epilepsy and lasts between a few seconds to several minutes.
Symptoms of this seizure may include:
- Experiencing a Jacksonian seizure where you feel a “marching” sensation which starts in the face, then to your arm and down to the leg
- Having feeling of numbness, heat, tingling, electricity, pressure and pain in rare occasions
- Having sexual sensations
- A feeling that your body is not yours or there is a part that is missing
- Having difficulty reading, understanding spoken words, or doing simple math.
- Seeing things that are different from the reality.
Like any other types of epilepsy, parietal lobe can affect male and female at an equal rate and can occur at any age. Causes include difficulties during childbirth, head trauma, tumor and stroke, though 20 percent of this condition is of unknown origin.
This lobe is responsible for processing information that is related to sight or vision. This seizure lasts a few seconds and has symptoms such as:
- Having partial or zero vision
- Experiencing eye pain
- Feeling as if your eyes are moving
- Having rapid rhythmic eye movements and flattering eyelids.
- Having uncontrollable eye movements
Occipital lobes epilepsy can be hereditary or can also be related with tumors, encephalitis, trauma, vascular or inherent brain malformations.
Both hemispheres of your brain are having epileptic activity in this seizure. Symptoms include jerking movements, staring and blinking, stiffening of limbs and loss of muscle tone. Most people usually lose consciousness, but sometimes it can be so brief that no one notices. Some are experiencing falling down.
Just like any other types of epilepsy, causes of generalized epilepsy may include head trauma or brain tumor. Other causes are genetics, autism, and a change in your brain structure, Alzheimer’s disease, congenital conditions and stroke.
Progressive Myoclonic Epilepsy (PME)
The PME is a condition that affects the central nervous system, featuring a combination of tonic-clonic and myoclonic seizures. Signs and symptoms of this seizure involve brief involuntary twitching of the muscle and you can be disabling if it becomes frequent enough. Tonic phase lasts a few seconds and it involves muscle tensing while the clonic phase involves a convulsion characterized by rapid alternation of tensing and relaxing of the muscle.
The most common cause of this seizure is hereditary metabolic disorders, however, there are cases where patient showed a normal metabolic test results and the cause remains to be unknown.
This type of epilepsy is brought about by certain stimulus, which can either be something simple in the environment or something more complex such as writing, reading, doing math. It is relatively rare, occurring in only 5% of all epilepsies. This kind of epilepsy is usually found to be primary generalized seizures.
Having epilepsy could be challenging and difficult at times, but with the help of science and medicine, diagnosis is easier. Knowing what type of epilepsy you have based on the symptoms and proper diagnosis by medical professionals give you an edge on winning over this condition. Watch the video below to learn the diagnosis of the disease.