This blog is dedicated to my little brother; to whom I hope will recover soon. The reason I am blogging; hopefully to make people aware of epilepsy's dangers. Recently my sibling has had a very serious seizure, after which he fell to the ground and herniated two discs in his lower back. After seeing how much pain he has endured in the previous weeks, it has inspired me to try to help others to understand how to help someone with this neurological disorder in their time of need.
Epilepsy is a common chronic neurological disorder characterized by recurrent unprovoked seizures. These seizures are transient signs and/or symptoms of abnormal, excessive or synchronous neuronal activity in the brain. About 50 million people worldwide have epilepsy, with almost 90% of these people being in developing countries. Epilepsy is more likely to occur in young children, or people over the age of 65 years; however, it can occur at any time. As a consequence of brain surgery, epileptic seizures may occur in recovering patients.
Epilepsy is usually controlled, but cannot be cured with medication, although surgery may be considered in difficult cases. However, over 30% of people with epilepsy do not have seizure control even with the best available medications. Not all epilepsy syndromes are lifelong – some forms are confined to particular stages of childhood. Epilepsy should not be understood as a single disorder, but rather as syndromic with vastly divergent symptoms but all involving episodic abnormal electrical activity in the brain.
Seizure types are organized firstly according to whether the source of the seizure within the brain is localized or distributed. Partial seizures are further divided on the extent to which consciousness is affected. If it is unaffected, then it is a simple partial seizure; otherwise it is a complex partial seizure. A partial seizure may spread within the brain - a process known as secondary generalization. Generalized seizures are divided according to the effect on the body but all involve loss of consciousness. These include absence ,myoclonic, clonic, tonic, tonic-clonic and atonic seizures.
Children may exhibit behaviors that are easily mistaken for epileptic seizures but are not caused by epilepsy. These include:
- Inattentive staring
- Benign shudders
- Self-gratification behaviors (nodding, rocking, head banging)
- Conversion disorder (flailing and jerking of the head, often in response to severe personal stress such as physical abuse)
- Conversion disorder can be distinguished from epilepsy because the episodes never occur during sleep and do not involve incontinence or self-injury.
What should you do when someone is having a seizure?
- During seizure there are safety precautions to prevent injury, you should loosen restrictive clothing, roll the person on side to prevent aspiration, place a small pillow under the head and ease from a standing or sitting position to the floor.
- Don't move the person unless he or she is in immediate danger.
- If the person is unconscious, make sure nothing is obstructing the nose or mouth. When you are watching an epileptic attack you should stay very calm and try not to panic.
- You shouldn’t place a finger or other object into the person's mouth to protect or straighten the tongue--it is unnecessary and dangerous.
- Don't perform artificial respiration during a seizure, even if the person is turning blue. Most seizures are over long before brain damage from lack of oxygen begins.
- You shouldn’t try to hold the person still because you may injure the individual or yourself.
- If the person has vomited, you should roll the person on side so that any fluid can easily flow out of mouth and not obstruct breathing.
- If the person has a seizure may not hear you.
- Don’t give the person anything to eat or drink until the person is fully recovered.
- Don't give person medication by mouth until the seizure has stopped and he or she is
completely awake and alert.
- You should be calmly reassuring.
- Stay with the person until recovery is complete.
- You should maintain a patent airway, note frequency, type, time, involved body parts, and length of seizure.
- It is important to monitor vital signs and neurologic status.