What is epilepsy

Epilepsy is known since ancient times. In ancient Greece and Rome epilepsy was associated with magic and magic and was called a "sacred disease". It was believed that the gods sent this disease on a man leading an unjust life.

As early as 400 BC. Hippocrates wrote the first treatise on epilepsy "On the Sacred Disease". The greatest doctor of antiquity believed that attacks provoked by the sun, winds and cold, changing the consistency of the brain. In the Middle Ages epilepsy was feared as an incurable disease transmitted through the breath of a patient during an attack. At the same time, they bowed before her, as many great people, saints and prophets, had epilepsy.

In modern terms, epilepsy is a chronic disease of the brain, the only or dominant feature of which is recurrent epileptic seizures.

Epilepsy is a fairly common disease that affects about 40 million people around the world.

Why it happens?

Now we know that the epileptic attack is a result of synchronous excitation of all neurons (nerve cells) of a separate section of the cerebral cortex - an epileptogenic focus. The cause of such a site may be head trauma (for example, concussion), stroke, meningitis, multiple sclerosis, alcoholism (every tenth alcoholic suffers from epileptic seizures), drug addiction and many other reasons. It is also known that predisposition to epilepsy can be transmitted by inheritance.

In 2/3 people with epilepsy, the first attack develops to 18 years of age.

With epilepsy, one should not confuse a hysterical fit. Cramps in hysteria develop more often after any strong experiences associated with grief, resentment, fright, and usually in the presence of relatives or strangers. A person can fall, but he tries not to cause himself serious injuries and retains consciousness. The duration of a hysterical fit is 15-20 minutes, less often up to several hours. When a person comes to a normal state, he does not feel a state of stupor or drowsiness, as is usually the case with epilepsy.

What's happening?

Light epileptic seizures may look like a momentary short-term loss of communication with the outside world. Attacks can be accompanied by light twitchings of eyelids, faces and often are invisible to others. It may even give the impression that the person for a moment seemed to think. Everything flows so fast that others do not notice anything. Moreover, even the person himself may not know that he has just had an attack of epilepsy.

Epileptic attack is often preceded by a special condition called an aura. Manifestations of the aura are very diverse and depend on the area of ​​the brain in which the epileptogenic focus is located: it can be a fever, anxiety, dizziness, a state of "never seen" (jamais vu) or "already seen" (deja vu), etc.

It is important to understand that the person during the attack does not realize anything and does not feel any pain. The attack lasts only a few minutes.

What to do during an attack

  • Do not try to forcibly restrain convulsive movements;
  • Do not try to unclench teeth;
  • Do not do artificial respiration or massage the heart, put a person with bouts on a flat surface and put something soft under his head;
  • Do not move a person from the place where the attack occurred, unless it is life-threatening;
  • Turn the head of the lying patient on its side to prevent the tongue from falling and entering saliva into the respiratory tract, and in cases of vomiting, gently turn the whole body to the side.

After the end of the attack, you need to give the person the opportunity to calmly recover and, if necessary, to sleep. Often, at the conclusion of an attack, confusion and weakness may occur, and it should take some time (usually 5 to 30 minutes) after which the person can stand up on his own.

Particularly dangerous are several large convulsive seizures, following without a break one by one. This condition is called epileptic status. He is deadly, as the patient stops breathing and death from suffocation can occur. Epileptic status is the main cause of death of patients with epilepsy and requires immediate medical attention.

Diagnosis and treatment

If you or your relatives have had an epileptic seizure, you should contact the neurologist as soon as possible. To create a more complete picture of the causes and nature of the attack, you will also need to consult an epileptologist. A method to accurately determine the presence of this disease is an electroencephalography (EEG). To determine the location of the epileptogenic focus, methods of magnetic resonance imaging and computed tomography are used. Often epileptic seizures mask various non-epileptic conditions, for example, some fainting, sleep and consciousness disorders. In this case, the method of video EEG monitoring is used to clarify the diagnosis.

Modern medical treatment allows in 70% of cases completely to free a person from seizures. If there is no result in the treatment of epilepsy, a surgical operation can be prescribed with drugs.