Epilepsy is the fourth most common neurological condition after migraines, stroke and Alzheimer’s disease, with an estimated 150,000 Americans diagnosed each year.
What is Epilepsy?
A central nervous system disorder, epilepsy occurs when clusters of nerve cells in the brain sometimes signal abnormality. This may sometimes cause convulsions (or seizures), muscle spasms and loss of consciousness.Epilepsy may develop as an imbalance of nerve signaling chemicals called neurotransmitters, because of an abnormality in brain wiring or some combination of these and other factors. However, in most cases, the origin of epilepsy remains unknown.
The most common symptom of epilepsy is seizures, however, not everyone who experiences a seizure has epilepsy. Seizures are classified into two groups:
- Generalized seizures that affect both sides of the brain such as absence or tonic-clonic seizures
- Focal seizures that are limited to one area of the brain. These may also be referred to as partial seizures. Types of focal seizures include simple, complex and secondary generalized.
Discerning if someone is experiencing a seizure can be difficult. One person may seem confused or stare blankly into the distance whereas someone else may fall, shake or lose awareness.
Other common signs and symptoms may include:
- Temporary confusion
- A staring spell
- Uncontrollable jerking movements of the arms and legs
- Loss of consciousness
- Fear, anxiety, or deja vu
Diagnosis and Treatment
An accurate diagnosis and timely treatment for epilepsy are imperative. Approximately 80% of patients are able to control their seizures with modern medication and advanced surgical techniques. There currently is no cure, but most people are able to lead outwardly normal lives.
At Regional Neurological Associates, our treatment program offers a comprehensive approach to epilepsy and other seizure disorders. To schedule an appointment, call (718) 515-4347.