Different types of seizure disorders affect people globally, but epilepsy is the main one. Knowing the types of this disease is essential to tackle it effectively.
Epilepsy is a disease caused by an imbalance in the electrical activity of neurons, in some area of the brain, that has different types of presentation. The appearance of recurrent seizures, which has both neurobiological, cognitive and psychological effects are its first sign.
Various studies highlight the importance of this pathology, because despite being one of the oldest diseases in history, many of its dynamics are unknown. That is why it was essential for medicine to classify the types and patterns of presentation in order to know how to deal with it effectively.
On the epidemiology of epilepsy
As important as knowing its causes and treatments is knowing how the disease spreads around the world. The World Health Organization (WHO) releases some statistics on epilepsy globally. These data are the following:
- Estimations are that at any given time, more than 50 million people get epilepsy diagnosis worldwide.
- Depending on the age of the patients and the geographical location where we pay attention, the prevalence varies from 4 to 10 patients per 1000 people. These figures double in low-income countries.
- About 80% of epilepsy patients live in places where the economy is still developing.
- 70% of epileptic people could live without seizures if the disease were treated properly. Unfortunately, three-quarters of patients are never treated in certain regions of the world.
- Thus, people with epilepsy are three times more likely to die compared to the general population.
These data are devastating, to say the least. You can treat epilepsy with drugs, but many people do not have access to the necessary means to alleviate their disease. For all these reasons, it is essential to know how to identify epilepsy and raise awareness in the general population about its effects.
Types of seizure disorders
There are two main variations of the pathology. One defined by its general character and the other of a focal nature.
Below, we summarize the different types of generalized epilepsy:
- Tonic-clonic generalized crisis: characterized by a sudden loss of consciousness. At first it causes general body stiffness (tonic phase) and then rhythmic movements (clonic phase). During these crises, associated effects can occur, such as a bite of the tongue, expulsion of urine or injuries when falling to the ground. It is the most obvious and most serious variation of the disease.
- Absence: it is characterized by a loss of consciousness with immobility and staring for a few seconds. You can easily tolerate it, but can be repeated several times a day.
- Myoclonic: based on a sudden spasm in the whole body or in a part of it (especially in the upper extremities) that causes the victim to fall.
- Atonic: loss of muscle tone, fall and momentary absence of consciousness.
Except for the tonic – clonic variant, the rest of generalized crises are instantaneous, with rapid recoveries. Much of the danger lies in the activity the person at the time of the attack is carrying out.
Focal epileptic seizures
These variants depend on the area of the brain where the neuronal electrical imbalance occurs. There are different types according to their manifestations:
- Without impaired consciousness (simple partial seizures): rhythmic jerking of a part of the body for seconds or minutes. They can manifest with intense tingling, strange thoughts or the appearance of lights in the visual field.
- With alteration of knowledge (complex partial crises): similar to the previous ones, but in this case a loss of consciousness occurs. The difference from the generalized ones is the fact that the person does not fall to the ground, since there is no loss of muscle tone, but an intense dissociation from reality.
- Bilateral seizure crisis: when a focused epileptic event spreads from the focus to the entire brain surface.
Causes and treatment
The causes of epilepsy are multiple. Various studies collect the advances that science has made in the last decades when it comes to knowing the mechanisms of action and the underlying reasons for this pathology. The World Health Organization collects some of the most common causes and they are the following:
- Brain damage from prenatal injuries or during childbirth itself.
- Congenital malformations at the neurological or genetic level.
- Cranioencephalic trauma.
- Strokes (from the bloodstream) that limit the supply of necessary oxygen to the brain.
- Brain infections such as cysticercosis (invasion of Taenia solium larvae that generates cysts between neurons).
- Brain tumors.
According to the General Book of Epilepsy Treatment, the basic medication of all patients is based on the use of antiepileptic drugs (AEDs). These try to eliminate the onset of crisis with the minimum number of side effects.
Despite its cheap costs, which in some do not exceed $ 5 a year, many people in developing countries cannot afford it. In addition, its administration is easy, without major complications, which should facilitate boarding.
What to remember?
Epilepsy is based on increased electrical activity in a general focus or brain area. As you can see, there are different types of seizure disorders. That is, according to their general or focal nature, in addition to other classifications based on the effects suffered by patients during crises.
This pathology is clearly correlated and conditioned by access to low-cost treatments, which, even so, are denied to a significant percentage of the population. Therefore, many resort to natural treatments. Raising awareness, knowing and treating are the bases to improve the quality of life of epileptic patients.
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