Epilepsy, also called seizure disorder, chronic brain disorder that briefly interrupts the normal electrical activity of the brain to cause seizures, characterized by a variety of symptoms including uncontrolled movements of the body, disorientation or confusion, sudden fear, or loss of consciousness. Epilepsy may result from a head injury, stroke, brain tumor, lead poisoning, genetic conditions, or severe infections like meningitis or encephalitis. In over 70 percent of cases no cause for epilepsy were identified. About 1 percent of the world population, or over 2 million people, are diagnosed with epilepsy.
How this shocking and loathsome disorder is detected.
In persons suffering from epilepsy, the brain waves, electrical activity in the part of the brain called the cerebral cortex, have a characteristically abnormal rhythm produced by excessive electrical discharges in the nerve cells. Because these wave patterns differ markedly according to their specific source, a recording of the brain waves, known as an electroencephalogram (EEG) is important in the diagnosis and study of the disorder. Diagnosis also requires a thorough medical history describing seizure characteristics and frequency.
Types of Seizures -- How severe do they get?
Epileptic seizures vary in intensity and symptoms depending on what part of the brain is involved. In partial seizures, the most common form of seizure in adults, only one area of the brain is involved. Partial seizures are classified as simple partial, complex partial, and absence (or petit mal) seizures.
People who have simple partial seizures may experience unusual sensations such as uncontrollable jerky motions of a body part, sight or hearing impairment, sudden sweating or flushing, nausea, and feelings of fear.
Complex partial seizures, also called temporal lobe epilepsy, last for only one or two minutes. The individual may appear to be in a trance and moves randomly with no control over body movements. The individual's activity does not cease during the seizure, but behavior is random and totally unrelated to the individual's surroundings. This form of seizure may be preceded by an aura (a warning sensation characterized by feelings of fear, abdominal discomfort, dizziness, or strange odors and sensations).
Absence seizures, rare in adults, are characterized by a sudden, momentary loss or impairment of consciousness. Overt symptoms are often as slight as an upward staring of the eyes, a staggering gait, or a twitching of the facial muscles. No aura occurs and the person often resumes activity without realizing that the seizure has occurred.
In a second type of...