What Has Changed About Epilepsy Essay

3827 words - 15 pages

"Epilepsy is a brain disorder involving recurrent seizures. You can relax. It's not the end of the world." This was my neurologist's introduction to my diagnosis as an epileptic with partial petit mal seizures including a curious, not to mention exciting, history of 2 grand mal seizures. As a 10-year-old girl, I remember feeling confused and greatly changed by these words that I had yet to understand the meaning of. As I grew to learn more about my condition, I realized that there are people around the globe, ranging in age, race, social and economic background that have experienced this same confusion. Collectively, we have gathered an incomplete, but valuable and working concept of epilepsy. Although it is one of the earliest recorded diseases, it attracts the attention of doctors, scientists, and researches everywhere, still in search of a clear understanding of the causes of particular seizures. Different nations contribute to our ever-expanding understanding of its history, epidemiology, prognosis and mortality, along with clinical manifestations and differential diagnosis. Tracing modern diagnosis and therapies back to biblical times allows us to compare another very important aspect of epilepsy: very similar modern and ancient perspectives on this disorder.

Our language gives clues as to the longevity of epilepsy: the term epilepsy derives from the Greek word "epilambien" which means "to take hold of" or "to seize." (1). Epilepsy is a disease with one of the longest recorded histories and an impact spanning the globe, allowing healers and physicians from a wide range of countries and time periods to study epilepsy. Worldwide studies have estimated the mean prevalence of active epilepsy, (i.e. continuing seizures or the need for treatment) at approximately 8.2 per 1000 of the general population.) (2) Further research in the world is looking to explain why in developing countries, such as Colombia, Ecuador, India Liberia, Nigeria, Panama, and the United Republic of Tanzania and Venezuela show a prevalence rate of over 10 per ever 1,000 people. Thus, it seems that at any one time, approximately 50 million people in the world suffer from epilepsy. (3) Today, most would agree that epilepsy involves a deviation from normal brain activity through instability of neurons. The neurobiology of epilepsy is hard to describe, as different types of seizures are related to different parts and separate problems within the brain. This instability causes them to fire in a rapid and/or excessive, synchronous and/or inconsistent manner, with excess electrical discharges within our brain resulting in a seizure. Because this involves very complicated brain activity, and "instabilities" of varying degrees or locations in the brain, there is a great difference between the appearance and treatment of acute presentations, and more severe or chronic presentations. The severity of these seizures depends on several factors: if the episode is fever induced...

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