Epilepsy & Seizure disorder

Epilepsy occurs as a result of abnormal electrical activity originating in the brain. Brain cells communicate by sending electrical signals in an orderly pattern. In epilepsy, these electrical signals become abnormal, giving rise to an "electrical storm" that produces seizures. These storms may be within a specific part of the brain (focal) or be generalized, depending on the type of epilepsy.

Seizures are episodes of abnormal movements or behavior due to unusual electrical activity in the brain, are a symptom of epilepsy. But not all people who appear to have seizures have epilepsy, which is a group of related disorders characterized by a tendency for recurrent seizures.

Epileptic seizures are episodes that can vary from brief and nearly undetectable to long periods of vigorous shaking. In epilepsy, seizures tend to recur and as a rule, have no immediate underlying cause. Isolated seizures that are provoked by a specific cause such as fever, poisoning, electrolyte imbalance are not deemed to represent epilepsy.

The cause of most cases of epilepsy is unknown. Some cases occur as the result of brain injury, stroke, brain tumors, infections of the brain, and birth defects, through a process known as epileptogenesis. Epileptic seizures are the result of excessive and abnormal nerve cell activity in the cortex of the brain. The diagnosis of epilepsy involves ruling out other conditions that might cause similar symptoms such as fainting and determining if another cause of seizures is present such as alcohol withdrawal or electrolyte problems. This may be partly done by imaging the brain and performing blood tests. Epilepsy can often be confirmed with an electroencephalogram (EEG), but a normal test does not rule out the condition.

Seizures/ Epileptic fits are controllable with medication in about 70-80% of cases. Inexpensive options are often available. In those whose seizures do not respond to medication (10-15 %), then surgery, neurostimulation, or dietary changes may be considered. Not all cases of epilepsy are lifelong, and many people improve to the point that treatment is no longer needed.

Epilepsy is more common in older people. In the developed world, onset of new cases occurs most frequently in babies and the elderly. In the developing world onset is more common in older children and young adults, due to differences in the frequency of the underlying causes.