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Why Are Epileptic Seizures Hard To Diagnose? Here Are The Early Signs To Look For

Why Are Epileptic Seizures Hard To Diagnose? Here Are The Early Signs To Look For

Recurring seizures are the primary symptom of epilepsy. However, the symptoms may change depending on the kind of seizure a patient is suffering from.

Written by Satata Karmakar |Updated : August 25, 2022 10:39 AM IST

Epilepsy is a chronic non-communicable central nervous system (neurological) disorder in which brain activity becomes abnormal, causing seizures or periods of unusual behaviour, sensations, and sometimes loss of awareness. Seizures can be defined more simply as brief episodes of uncontrollable movement that can involve the entire body (total) or just a portion of it (partial), and which are typically accompanied by a loss of consciousness and the ability to control bowel or bladder function. All ages, races, and ethnic groups, as well as all genders, can be afflicted by epilepsy. Let's understand more about this condition from Dr Nikunj Mittal, Consultant Neurosurgery, Manipal Hospitals, Ghaziabad.

According to Dr Mittal, Seizures do not always indicate epilepsy, though. During the withdrawal from alcohol, a brain that is otherwise healthy may experience seizures. An abrupt drop in blood flow can also cause seizure-like symptoms, which can lead to fainting or even panic attacks. It can be hard to diagnose epilepsy quickly as these events can also have similar symptoms. Epilepsy-related seizures, on the other hand, are frequently unpredictable and unprovoked. Brain tumors, infections, strokes, traumatic brain injury, autoimmune diseases, developmental abnormalities, and genetic predispositions are some of the underlying abnormalities that can cause the onset of epileptic seizures. Epileptic seizures are often not confirmed until a person has had more than one or two episodes of seizure.

Symptoms of Epileptic Seizures

Recurring seizures are the primary symptom of epilepsy. However, the symptoms may change depending on the kind of seizure a patient is suffering from. Below mentioned are some early signs and symptoms of epileptic seizures:

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  1. Temporary loss of consciousness
  2. Muscle jerking, loss of tone, and uncontrolled muscle action
  3. Temporary confusion, thinking gets slowed, communication and comprehension issues
  4. Change in senses
  5. Feeling of numbness
  6. Difficulty in understanding or speaking
  7. Increased breathing or heart rate
  8. A feeling of terror, dread, or anxiety
  9. Changes in movement of hands and legs

How Can Seizures Be Diagnosed?

Diagnosis depends on the medical history of the patient and on the evaluation of abnormal patterns of electrical activity in the brain. Your doctor may suggest several tests to diagnose epilepsy and determine the cause of seizures. Your evaluation may include:

  1. A neurological examination, where the doctor will assess your behavior, motor abilities, mental function, and other areas to diagnose your condition and determine the type of epilepsy you may have.
  2. Blood tests, where the doctor may take a blood sample to check for signs of infections, genetic conditions, or other conditions that may be associated with seizures.

For further investigation, the doctor may also suggest some tests for a detailed diagnosis. These tests may include:

  1. Electroencephalography (EEG)
  2. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
  3. Positron emission tomography (PET)
  4. Computerized tomography (CT scan)
  5. Single-photon emission computerized tomography (SPECT)

How Can Epileptic Seizures Be Treated?

When it comes to the treatment process for epileptic seizures, take a look at what Dr Mittal has to say:

  • Even though many causes of epilepsy are uncontrollable and unavoidable, they can still be treated. The treatment of epilepsy begins with medication. If medications do not treat the condition, then the doctors may propose surgery or another type of treatment therapy.
  • Along with treatment, it is important to make lifestyle modifications like getting enough sleep, as lack of sleep can trigger seizures. Regular exercise is physically healthy and can also help in reducing stress and anxiety.
  • One should opt for a balanced diet, maintain a healthy weight, and drink enough water. The brain can be harmed by alcohol and other illicit substances, which can result in epilepsy. So, one should avoid consuming excessive tobacco and liquor.

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