Epilepsy is a relatively uncommon brain disorder that triggers a variety of different seizures. Many people think of someone with epilepsy as a person who experiences uncontrollable, violent seizures. At the same time, many other people with epilepsy experience minor seizures as well.
Most people in the United States know someone with epilepsy. For many people, living with epilepsy is a manageable condition that causes minor inconveniences. For others, it is a significant health safety risk that requires support from the people around them.
The first step in helping protect people with epilepsy is learning more about the disorder, how to deal with seizures in a safe manner, and potential treatment methods. Here is a basic guide to epilepsy to help you learn more and react the right way.
What Is Epilepsy?
As previously stated, epilepsy is a brain disorder. Estimates indicate that epilepsy impacts about 3 million adults and almost half a million children. With epilepsy, the brain’s normal electrical patterns are disrupted and trigger seizures of varying severity. For some folks, epileptic seizures mean thrashing about violently in convulsions on the ground. For others, however, it can look like they are frozen in time, staring off into space.
Some people make the mistake of thinking that every person who has a seizure is epileptic. This is not the case. Sometimes, the body goes into seizures as a defense mechanism. People have seizures when they are injured, have a high fever, or are subject to severe trauma. Having one seizure doesn’t make you epileptic.
Epilepsy is a condition defined by having multiple seizures. Sometimes they are triggered by stress or some other external factor, and other times there is no known cause.
The Impact of Epilepsy
We’ve mentioned that sometimes epilepsy is very manageable, but it can also put immense strain on daily living. People with epilepsy often have no idea when their next seizure will strike, and it can put them at risk depending on what they are doing and where they are. Imagine falling, for instance, on the hard concrete of a sidewalk with no head protection. In many cases, people with epilepsy will wear a medical bracelet or some other outward sign that tells people about their condition to help inform any treatment administered.
Types of Epilepsy
In general, there are two main types of epilepsy – focal and generalized. With focal, seizures are focused in a certain area or part of the brain. A small part of the body twitching, for example, is a focal seizure.
Generalized seizures are typically larger and affect more parts of the body. This is your typical convulsions seizure that is usually associated with epilepsy.
Sometimes seizures last only for moments, and other times they last for minutes. Generally speaking, it’s best to simply let the seizure take its course—any type of physical intervention risks injury to the person having a seizure. If you can, remove any objects in the area that could fall on them or otherwise injure them and, if you’re worried, you can call for help from first responders.
Medication for Epilepsy
Thankfully, modern medicine has come a long way with regard to the treatment of epilepsy. While the first or second seizure can certainly be frightening, at least they let you or your family know about epilepsy so you can seek proper care. Nowadays, there are a variety of prescription medications that prevent seizures or significantly reduce their severity.
Talk to a doctor after a seizure or if the disorder is causing repeated seizures. They can talk to you about your options when it comes to medical treatment, and you can go from there to find the right treatment plan for you.
Peptides & Epilepsy
Gamma-aminobutyric acid, or GABA for short, is a central nervous system signaling molecule that is known to reduce electrical activity and excitability in the central nervous system. In a recent study in mice, the peptide sermorelin did a great job suppressing seizures by activating GABA receptors according to PeptideSciences. This is an ongoing area of research into whether sermorelin peptide can be used as an alternative treatment with lower detrimental effects compared to some prescription medications.