April 14, 2023 | Epilepsy in children, Neurology, Seizures, Surgery
Mum Kate Rodgers was home alone when her son, who was born in July 2018, had a seizure that did not stop. After calling an ambulance, Ronnie needed rescue medication and was diagnosed with epilepsy
A mum has detailed how her month-old baby was having 100 seizures a day and now wants to raise vital awareness.
Ronnie Rodgers-Rafferty was just two weeks old when he began to have “strange movements”. Despite an overnight stay in hospital, all was well until he was six weeks old.
Mum Kate Rodgers was home alone when her son, who was born in July 2018, had a seizure that did not stop. After calling an ambulance, Ronnie needed rescue medication and he was soon diagnosed with epilepsy.
But Kate told the Liverpool Echo from the age of five months, things “spiraled and became uncontrollable” and he soon began to have around 100 seizures a day. It was then they decided to look into surgical options.
Kate said: “Having brain surgery so young is a massive deal so they had to make sure they could do it, where they needed to operate and what the outcome would be, so we had several tests in Manchester and Alder Hey.
“There was a cancellation on December 19, 2019 and he was in surgery in Alder Hey from 9am until about 6pm to remove the part of the brain that was causing these seizures. After that it was a massive success, he was seizure free for a year. We went from 100 a day to 0.”
Having surgery at the age of 17 months, Kate said staff at Alder Hey were “fantastic and amazing”, but soon the seizures returned and Ronnie, now four, is having seizures in his sleep, with the odd one during daytime.
Kate added: “We are looking into more surgery so are waiting the results from Alder Hey. After the first surgery it did affect his left arm and hand and he needed physio.”
Ronnie’s seizures include eye twitching and blinking and shakes on his left side which can last up to a minute each time. Kate said: “When people think of epilepsy, they think of being on the floor full convulsion but there’s different types of seizures.
“A couple of times we’ve had to call an ambulance and he’s been given rescue meds but it’s tough on us all. It’s hard not knowing about epilepsy, you find yourself on Google at 2am always looking to the future.
“I’ve learnt to not look too far ahead, focus on what’s happening now. We don’t take our eyes off of him for very long and it’s a constant battle but having a child with additional needs brings so much joy.”.
For a while, Kate and her partner were setting an alarm every hour to check on Ronnie in his sleep, but the Manchester parents now have monitors they use to keep an eye on him. Kate now wants to raise awareness so others know they are not alone.
She said: “Epilepsy is a disability but there’s different types of seizures and people can still lead a normal, happy life. I used to Google looking for a happy ending. I haven’t got a perfect ending but it’s a happy one. Ronnie is in school, he’s walking and talking and reading and writing.
“Ronnie’s seizures are in his sleep so we don’t have to worry about him having them at school but there are risks, there’s an increase of SUDEP (Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy). It’s something that’s there and needs to be talked about and there are charities that can help.”
Kate said she has been receiving “horrible comments” about her son’s condition but urges parents to know the signs and talk about the condition as well as seeking support from various charities including Daisy Garland charity.
She said: “Take one day at a time. Ronnie’s journey isn’t perfect but we are happy. When you have a baby you have an idyllic view of what life will be like and if it’s not like that you won’t be happy, but you will be.”
Source: mirror.co.uk, Aaliyah Rugg, William Walker
April 13, 2023 | Depression, Epilepsy, Epilepsy in children, Human Interest Epilepsy, Medicine, Mental Health, Neurology, Seizure Types, Seizures, Sleep deprivation, Surgery
Epilepsy is a disease that affects the electrical activity of the brain. If you want to know more about this disorder in adolescents, read on.
Adolescence is a stage of development closely linked to epilepsy. This can be either because certain epileptic symptoms disappear during this phase or others appear. The prevalence of epilepsy in adolescents is estimated to be 3.2-5.5/1000.
Regardless of the factors that determine the onset or disappearance of epileptic syndromes in adolescence, the presence of this particular clinical picture requires professional attention. Indeed, this disorder requires it in all cases but, perhaps more especially at this stage, since it’s a vulnerable phase, both physically and emotionally.
Epilepsy in adolescents
Epilepsy is a disorder of the central nervous system. The electrical activity of the brain is disturbed which causes seizures or unusual behaviors and sensations. Its manifestation is heterogeneous and it depends on particular characteristics.
During epileptic seizures, some people stare for seconds, while others experience seizures caused by excessive electrical discharges in neurons. Due to the fact that epilepsy is the product of abnormal dynamics in the cerebral cortex, these seizures could affect any organic or psychological function in charge of brain activity.
Epilepsy affects adolescents both psychologically and socially. For example, their interactions with peers, educational and professional decisions, driving ability, and reproductive life are some of the affected areas. Moreover, research suggests that adolescents with epilepsy exhibit significantly higher levels of depression, obsessive symptoms, anhedonia, and social anxiety, compared to those without the disorder.
Furthermore, studies have also found that, among young people with epilepsy, high seizure frequency is linked with low self-esteem, and tonic-clonic seizures are linked with higher levels of depression. This analysis determined that low levels of knowledge about epilepsy correspond to higher rates of depression, lower self-esteem, and higher levels of social anxiety.
Among the symptoms and signs of epilepsy in the adolescent stage are:
- Muscular stiffness.
- Temporary confusion.
- Absence episodes.
- Loss of consciousness.
- Paroxysmal movements of the extremities.
- Psychological symptoms such as fear or anxiety about experiencing an episode.
These symptoms vary according to the type of epilepsy and the kind of seizures. Typically, adolescents with this condition experience the same type of seizures in each episode. Therefore, the symptoms will be similar each time.
Clinical classification of epilepsy
Depending on the origin of the shock, epileptic seizures are divided into focal and generalized.
Episodes in which the abnormal electrical activity is confined to a specific region of the brain. They manifest as follows:
- Complex partial seizures. Disturbances at the level of consciousness. Automatisms or stereotyped acts are frequent.
- Simple partial seizures. They develop without alterations in consciousness. They can be motor, sensitive, physiological, or psychological (depersonalization, fear).
- Secondarily generalized partial seizures. They’re generalized. In fact, they originate from the two previous types of seizures and extend over the two hemispheres of the brain.
These episodes don’t have a localizable beginning. They occur with alterations of consciousness from the start. They’re as follows:
- Atonic seizure or a ‘drop attack’. There’s a loss of postural muscle tone. In effect, the sufferer’s muscles become suddenly floppy.
- Typical absences. Brief, sudden episodes of loss of consciousness.
- Tonic seizures. Brief contraction of the upper limbs. They cause stiffness.
- Clonic seizures. Jerky, repetitive, asymmetrical, and irregular muscle movements.
- Atypical absences. The same as the previous ones, but they have a lesser effect on consciousness.
- Myoclonic seizures. Sudden, recurrent, and brief muscle jerks. There’s a loss of consciousness. They usually affect the arms and legs
- Tonic-clonic seizures. They start with a loss of consciousness, then progress with muscle contractions throughout the body. Later, the clonic phase or convulsive movements occur. They end with a period of confusion of variable duration.
Types of epilepsy in adolescents
Adolescence is a period of life that encompasses the various ages at which different types of epilepsy usually start. For example:
Juvenile myoclonic epilepsy
This type presents with sudden convulsions in the extremities of the body, mainly the arms and legs. It’s characterized by myoclonus and, less frequently, generalized tonic-clonic seizures and absences. Seizures usually occur at the time of waking up or within a few minutes of doing so.
Juvenile absence epilepsy
This is of the generalized idiopathic type. It’s distinguished by an absence seizure that may be accompanied by myoclonus and generalized tonic-clonic seizures. Similarly, brief disturbances of consciousness occur along with generalized spike-wave discharges at three or more Hz on the EEG.
Epilepsy with generalized tonic-clonic seizures
This kind of adolescent epilepsy begins with a loss of consciousness and muscle twitching. It then goes through a phase of convulsive movements, ending with a period of confusion of variable duration. In generalized tonic-clonic seizures, the patient may make guttural sounds and exhibit irregular breathing.
Benign focal epilepsy of adolescence
This is a rare type of epilepsy. It begins between the ages of ten and 20. It’s characterized by focal motor or somatosensory seizures and is usually of short duration. It’s usually associated with a family history of epilepsy.
How to treat epilepsy in adolescents
The treatment of adolescents diagnosed with epilepsy is usually based on anticonvulsants. As the name suggests, they tend to prevent seizures. Some of these medications are:
- Valproic acid.
The function of the anticonvulsant drug isn’t to intervene in the direct causes of the seizures, but to appease or prevent their manifestation. In other words, they attack the symptom, but not the basic problem that causes them. However, these drugs can have side effects such as:
- Double vision.
- Hepatic injury.
- Loss of coordination.
For the treatment of these effects, it’s advisable to consult the doctor who made the diagnosis. In the event that medicine doesn’t give the expected result, surgery is an option. In fact, doctors turn to this remedy when neurological exams and tests indicate that:
- The electrical discharges that are causing the seizures are focused on a specific part of the brain.
- The region of the brain to undergo surgery isn’t interfering with vital functions, such as language, motor skills, vision, and hearing.
However, if surgery presents high risks, guided stereotactic laser ablation could be an effective and viable treatment. In this procedure, doctors use laser technology to destroy the tissue where the seizures occur.
Other possible treatments for epilepsy in adolescents include vagus nerve stimulation, a ketogenic diet, deep brain stimulation, and receptive neurostimulation.
Finally, the adolescent may find it useful to receive psychological attention. This will help them understand that these crises are only a small part of their life and that they don’t have to limit their existence too much.
Source: exploringyourmind.com, José Padilla.
April 12, 2023 | Epilepsy, Human Interest Epilepsy, Medicine, Seizure dogs
Canine epilepsy is a persistent condition characterized by seizures or convulsions, making it crucial for dog owners to recognize the indications and take appropriate measures.
The Purple Day of Epilepsy is celebrated to increase awareness about epilepsy and take care of animals who are coping with this disorder. Canine epilepsy is a severe health concern that may result in seizures, loss of awareness, and potentially fatal consequences. Recognizing the indications of epilepsy in dogs is essential to managing the condition and administering appropriate treatment.
Here are some symptoms seen in dogs that indicate epilepsy:
1. Seizures: Seizures are the most prevalent sign of epilepsy in dogs. They can last a few seconds to several minutes and cause your dog to lose consciousness. Dogs during seizures may experience convulsions, muscle twitching, and drooling.
2. Loss of consciousness: During a seizure, dogs are likely to become unconscious. After the seizure subsides, it is important to keep the dog calm and closely observe its behavior.
3. Changes in behavior: Epilepsy can have an impact on the behavior of dogs, leading to noticeable changes such as increased anxiety, agitation, or a withdrawn and unresponsive demeanor.
4. Loss of bladder or bowel control: One of the possible effects of a seizure in dogs is a loss of bladder or bowel control. To ensure the dog’s well-being, it is important to provide it with a clean and comfortable place to rest. This can help the dog feel more at ease and reduce stress for the owner.
How can you cure epilepsy in dogs?
Till date, there is no proper cure of epilepsy in dogs. However, pet owners can follow some of the guidelines mentioned below to improve the dog’s quality of life:
- Maintain a journal to record your dog’s seizures and symptoms and identify potential triggers.
- Reduce stress and anxiety by maintaining a stable routine and environment.
- Prevent potential triggers, such as exposure to loud noises or flashing lights
- A well-balanced diet and sufficient exercise is also essential in promoting good health for dogs with epilepsy.
Epilepsy can be a significant health concern for dogs that requires appropriate treatment and management. If any of the symptoms discussed above are observed, it is crucial to seek the advice of a veterinarian to identify the root cause and devise a suitable treatment regimen. With proper care and management, dogs with epilepsy can enjoy a fulfilling and healthy life.
April 11, 2023 | Childhood Epilepsy, EEG, Epilepsy, Epilepsy in children, News, Research, Seizure Types, Seizures, Technology
Researchers at UTA are conducting a study designing a new technique to identify seizure-inducing regions of children’s brains.
Christos Papadelis, bioengineering professor of research, is studying new treatments for epilepsy with help from doctoral student Ludovica Corona. Their new methods aim to identify which areas of the brain cause a patient’s seizures using noninvasive techniques that don’t require brain surgery.
Epilepsy is estimated to affect approximately 1 in 100 children and adults in the United States, causing clinical seizures and often lowering patients’ quality of everyday life.
Traditionally, the first line of treatment are drugs made to control their seizures, Papadelis said. However, they have a 70% success rate, so approximately 30% of patients require surgery as the next best treatment.
Through these surgeries, doctors try to identify which areas in the brain are responsible for the seizures, Papadelis said.
They then try to resect it in a surgical procedure, and the patient would ideally become seizure-free.
But Papadelis and Corona’s method presents an alternative to surgery. Corona said the term “noninvasive techniques” means they record the electrical activity of the patients without performing invasive surgery.
The data will allow them to identify the functional networks responsible for epilepsy with advanced signal processing, Papadelis said.
One of the new methods has the child wearing a helmet with small coils inside to record brain activity. Corona said they collaborated with Boston Children’s Hospital to analyze the patient’s data.
Corona said the idea for her study started during a 2019 internship in Boston while developing her master’s thesis. She wanted to study functional connectivity, which, according to the Handbook of Clinical Neurology, is “the strength to which activity between a pair of brain regions covaries or correlates over time.”
Corona said she continued the rest of the project at UTA.
This study received funds from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, Papadelis said. The same institute supports Papadelis’s research at Cook Children’s Health Care System, a Fort Worth pediatric hospital.
Papadelis said the study was retrospective, meaning all the data analyzed was collected over the past decade. The next step is to use the gathered information to conduct a prospective study, where the data can help plan the surgical treatment of epileptic kids.
When epilepsy is diagnosed early in life, children have to stay on drugs for several years, Papadelis said. The longer the epilepsy is active, the more brain damage it causes, and patients can suffer from depression, intellectual disability and anxiety.
“By using these techniques, we’ll be able to identify the functional networks in the brain which are responsible for the seizures and then provide this information to the epileptologist,” he said. “By doing that, we hope that the kids will become seizure-free.”
Source: theshorthorn.com, Andrea Gonzalez
April 10, 2023 | Epilepsy, Seizures, SUDEP
- Epilepsy is a neurological condition that produces changes in the brain that can cause seizures.
- Researchers say people with the condition have a higher risk of early death than the general population.
- The risk can fluctuate depending on the severity of the epilepsy and what other health issues a person may have.
People with epilepsy have a higher risk of premature death than those without the disease, even with treatment, according to a study published today in the journal Neurology.
Researchers studied nearly 140,000 people living in Korea over a 10-year period. The participants had an average age of 49 at the start of the study.
The researchers reported that the people with epilepsy had twice the risk of death compared to those without the condition.
The researchers also reported a rural/urban divide in death risk. People with epilepsy living in urban areas had a 203% increased risk of premature death while those living in rural areas had a 247% increased risk.
What to know about epilepsy
Epilepsy is a neurological condition that produces an abnormal change in electrical activity in the brain that causes seizures.
“While I can’t speak to factors in Korea, in the U.S., people need to travel significant distances to obtain specialized epilepsy care,” said Dr. Rachel Kuperman, a pediatric neurologist and chief executive officer of Eysz, a company developing diagnostic tools for epilepsy.
“This is particularly burdensome for people with epilepsy who may not be able to drive because of the epilepsy itself,” Kuperman told Healthline. “It requires a significant support system to take time off of work, care for family and travel to obtain epilepsy care. While communities may have access to neurologists, on average in the U.S. it takes more than 17 years to be referred to a specialized epilepsy center.”
The severity of epilepsy is a factor
The risk of death among people with epilepsy was not equal, however.
Researchers reported that the severity of a person’s experience of the condition made a significant difference.
So did other health issues the study participants had.
For example, people with epilepsy with no other health conditions had a 161% higher risk of death compare to people without epilepsy.
However, a subset of study participants who had epilepsy but had been hospitalized only once or not at all had no higher risk of premature death than the general population.
Similarly, patients on a single epilepsy medication had a 156% greater risk of death than people without epilepsy during the study period.
Those taking four or more medications and almost a 500% higher risk of death.
“About one-third of people with epilepsy continue to have seizures despite medications,” Kuperman said. “So, most likely taking four or more medications is a marker for having harder-to-treat epilepsy, which would correlate with a higher seizure burden.”
Exact cause of death differed
In terms of causes of death, 19% of study participants died of cerebrovascular disease — a range of conditions including stroke that impairs blood flow to the brain — at a rate 4.5 times that of people without epilepsy.
In addition, 7% died of central nervous system cancer, at a rate 46 times higher than the general population.
Both of these conditions could be underlying causes of epilepsy itself, the researchers noted.
“Our study demonstrated a wide range of mortality risks in people with epilepsy, depending on age, disease duration, disease severity, and other health conditions,” Dr. Seo-Young Lee, a study author and researchers at Kangwon National University in Chuncheon in the Republic of Korea, said in a press release.
People with epilepsy also have increased risk of depression, which can affect their overall risk for premature death.
“We urge public health efforts to improve access to care. Active control of seizures, education about injury prevention, monitoring for suicidal thoughts, and efforts to improve accessibility to epilepsy care all contribute to reducing mortality,” Lee wrote.
“People with epilepsy need improved access to care,” she said. “Compared to other disorders of the brain, epilepsy receives significantly less research funding and investment into new treatments. People with epilepsy deserve holistic accessible just in time care that addresses not just the epilepsy but its co-morbidities. Caregivers also need the financial support to adequately care for loved ones with the disorder.”
Source: healthline.com, Christopher Curley, Maria Gifford
April 09, 2023 | Epilepsy, Human Interest Epilepsy, News, Seizure Detection, Seizures, Technology
It'll change how some scenes are displayed on your TV
While Apple TV software updates aren’t known for adding fancy new features, the tvOS 16.4 release has brought with it one very important addition.
Apple recently released tvOS 16.4 to the public after a weeks-long beta program, and while it isn’t what anyone would call laden with features, one accessibility feature will surely be well received by epilepsy sufferers around the globe.
According to the software’s release notes, owners of the Apple TV 4K and Apple TV HD can now use a feature that is designed to reduce the severity of seizure-inducing portions of content.
A more accessible Apple TV
Apple’s tvOS 16.4 release notes don’t go into great detail about the new feature, but they do confirm that it exists.
“This update adds Dim Flashing Lights, an accessibility option to automatically dim the display of video when flashes of light or strobe effects are detected,” the release notes say.
Those same release notes go on to add that the update also includes performance and stability improvements, but that’s as granular as they get. If you’ve been battling with some kind of bug or issue, update to tvOS 16.4 and cross your fingers that this update has fixed whatever was going on.
This latest update arrives not too long after tvOS 16.3.3 which itself dealt with one particularly irritating bug. That bug saw some people’s Siri remotes refuse to stay connected to the third-gen Apple TV 4K box, something that must have been maddening to try and deal with.
The tvOS 16.4 update is now available for download and you might already have it installed if you have automatic updates enabled. If not, you can of course download it manually.
While the Apple TV hardware is among the best in terms of streaming devices, it isn’t cheap. Thankfully there are tons of Apple TV alternatives to be had for much less, too.
Source: imore.com, Oliver Haslam
April 08, 2023 | Epilepsy, Human Interest Epilepsy, Medicine, Mental Health, Neurology, News, Seizures
Statistically, people with low educational attainment and income who have epilepsy suffer more than others from the condition. Not only are they hospitalized with epilepsy more often than others, but they also have less access to specialized neurological care, a University of Gothenburg thesis shows.
Epilepsy is a group of diagnoses covering brain disorders that give rise to recurrent epileptic seizures, which can reduce awareness and cause jerky limb movements, for example, along with other neurological symptoms. The seizures are caused by transient electrical discharges from the nerve cells (neurons) of the brain.
Epilepsy occurs autonomously or as a symptom of other diseases or syndromes. It may be congenital or arise after such events as stroke, tumor growth or a severe infection. Very often, its cause is impossible to pinpoint.
Most people with epilepsy stop getting seizures after a few years’ medication to treat the disorder, and can then live normal lives; but in a third of sufferers, despite drug treatment, the seizures persist. Virtually every aspect of their existence is affected: work and personal life, relationships, the ability to drive, and more.
Disparities in well-being and health care
The author of the thesis in question is Klara Andersson, who obtained her doctorate at the Institute of Health and Care Sciences, part of Sahlgrenska Academy at the University of Gothenburg. She is also a resident physician in neurology at Sahlgrenska University Hospital.
Andersson has studied the stigma associated with epilepsy. This stigma may mean that people get labeled, are discriminated against, and lose social status as a result of the diagnosis, both at work and in their relationships. This may precipitate problems with their mental health.
Andersson also studied socioeconomic factors by means of data from national registers, self-reporting questionnaires, individual interviews and focus group interviews. Thus, the results comprise both population-level statistics and qualitative individual levels of experience.
We found that, statistically, people with lower educational attainment and income level have more severe epilepsy and, at the same time, a lower degree of access to consultations with neurologists.”
Klara Andersson, Sahlgrenska University Hospital
Mental ill-health may play a part
Foreign-born people with epilepsy also rated the stigma levels as higher than their Swedish-born counterparts did, although there was no significant difference in seizure frequency between the two groups. However, the differences disappeared after adjustment for self-rated mental health and symptoms of anxiety.
“That indicates that there may be differing comorbidity in terms of mental ill-health between native Swedes and foreign-born people with epilepsy. We need to get better at detecting and treating this difference and remedying it in clinical follow-up work,” Andersson says.
Medical treatment of epilepsy seizures is the natural starting point in epilepsy care, but social aspects of the disorder also need to be considered if successful results from treatment are to be achieved, the thesis shows. Andersson emphasizes the importance of an individual attitude that takes the patients’ social circumstances into account.
“Social barriers, stigma, and complex medical situations boost requirements for specialized epilepsy care. A multidisciplinary team facilitating communication, education and training, psychological support, and collaboration with external partners is crucial for vulnerable people with epilepsy to get the support they need,” she concludes.
Source: Emily Henderson,
April 07, 2023 | Causes, Diagnosis Techniques, EEG, Epilepsy, Epilepsy Syndromes, Genetic sequencing, Medicine, Neurology, Seizures, Technology
Epileptic encephalopathy is a group of neurologic conditions that involve severe epilepsy. In epileptic encephalopathy conditions, the seizures cause additional harm to the brain.
Epileptic encephalopathy (EE) is a group of brain disorders that generally start in infancy but can begin during adulthood as well. They are characterized by severe, sometimes continuous, seizure activity that injures the brain and affects development, cognition (thinking ability), and behavior.
These conditions may be difficult to treat with antiepileptic medications and may require several medications and other treatments, including surgery.
What is epileptic encephalopathy?
The International League Against Epilepsy defines EE conditions as those in which seizure activity itself contributes to severe cognitive and behavioral impairments, greater than would be expected from the underlying condition alone. These impairments may get worse over time.
In infants with EE, seizures may be continuous, and the seizures can injure the brain, affecting cognitive and behavioral functioning. Infants may have developmental delays, regress in development, or stop progressing.
There are several types of EE that have unique causes and symptoms:
- Ohtahara syndrome
- West syndrome (infantile spasms)
- Dravet syndrome
- myoclonic status in nonprogressive encephalopathies
- Lennox-Gastaut syndrome
- Landau-Kleffner syndrome
- early myoclonic encephalopathy
- epilepsy with continuous spike waves during slow-wave sleep
What are the symptoms of epileptic encephalopathy?
The symptoms of EE will depend on the specific condition an individual has. However, all types involve frequent seizures, and most involve more than one seizure type.
The most common types of seizures seen in EE are:
- Tonic seizures: These often occur during sleep and involve stiffening of muscles in the limbs or trunk.
- Atonic seizures: Also called akinetic seizures or drop attacks, atonic seizures involve a sudden loss of muscle strength.
- Myoclonic seizures: Myoclonic seizures involve short, jerky motions and can affect a single muscle or a group of muscles.
Individuals who have EE can also experience other types of seizures, such as:
- generalized tonic-clonic seizures
- absence seizures
- focal seizures
- nonepileptic seizures
Babies and children with EE may experience developmental delays or regression — the loss of skills they had previously gained.
What causes epileptic encephalopathy?
Structural changes in an infant’s brain are the most common cause of EE. The changes may be congenital (present before birth), or they may develop after delivery because of other factors, such as a lack of oxygen to the brain before or during delivery.
EE has several other possible causes:
- Genetic mutations: Most genetic causes of epilepsy are random gene mutations that do not run in families.
- Inherited genetic changes: EE may be caused by inherited changes in genes on chromosome 2 or changes in several other single genes.
- Metabolic disorders: Metabolic disorders cause the body to make too much or too little of a protein or enzyme. They can cause seizures, and several have been linked to EE.
- Structural changes or atypical development of the brain: A baby’s brain may develop in an atypical way that could increase the risk of seizures.
- Brain injury: Injury to the brain may occur during development or delivery or after birth and may cause EE.
How is epileptic encephalopathy diagnosed?
Electroencephalogram (EEG) is the primary method of diagnosing EE. This test uses small electrodes, which are either in a cap that the baby wears or lightly glued or stuck temporarily to the baby’s head. Healthcare professionals will usually perform this test both when the infant is awake and while they are asleep.
Healthcare professionals may also use the following tests when diagnosing EE:
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): Healthcare professionals use MRI to look for structural changes in the brain.
- Metabolic screening: To check for inherited metabolic diseases, the following metabolic screens may be useful:
- arterial blood gas
- blood ammonia
- blood tandem mass spectrometry
- lactate analysis
- urine organic acid analysis
- Genetic testing: Some types of EE are associated with inherited genetic changes and spontaneous genetic mutations. Genetic testing can identify genetic changes and help with diagnosis and treatment planning.
What’s the outlook for people who have epileptic encephalopathy?
The main features of EE are severe seizures and worsening neurologic function. In some types of EE, successfully treating the seizures may improve the developmental outlook for a child.
Infants with EE will likely need lifelong care for epilepsy, developmental delays, and cognitive disabilities. Some infants with EE are more likely to die as a result of seizures or other conditions.
Frequently asked questions
Is epileptic encephalopathy fatal?
Infants with some types of EE are at a greater risk of premature death than infants who don’t have EE, but that depends on the type they have and any other underlying conditions.
Is epileptic encephalopathy curable?
Research into the treatment of EE is ongoing, but the condition is not usually curable. Depending on the type, treatment can help reduce symptoms and improve development. However, EE is associated with loss of neurologic function over time.
Is epileptic encephalopathy genetic?
Yes, it can be. Some forms of EE have been linked to inherited genetic changes and random genetic mutations.
EE is a group of conditions characterized by severe seizures that cause brain injury and cognitive and behavioral delays. Treating these seizures may help improve development. However, some types of EE may not respond well to antiepileptic medications.
EE occurs mainly in babies and young children but can also occur in adults. Individuals with EE will likely need lifelong care and treatment.
Source: healthline.com, Deborah L. Nurmi, MS, Heidi Moawad, MD
April 06, 2023 | Epilepsy, Epilepsy in women, Family and Friends, Medicine, Neurology, Pregnancy
More than half of UK women with epilepsy under the age of 24 are not aware of the risks of some epilepsy medicines in pregnancy, a new survey by three epilepsy charities has found.
Epilepsy Action, Epilepsy Society and Young Epilepsy conducted a survey of over 1,200 women and girls with epilepsy across the UK in November and December 2022, to gauge awareness around the risks of some epilepsy medicines if taken in pregnancy.
The Epilepsy Medication in Pregnancy survey showed that 53% of women under 24 years old were not aware of potential risks of taking some epilepsy medicines, such as topiramate, carbamazepine, phenobarbital, phenytoin or pregabalin, in pregnancy.
These medicines, alongside sodium valproate, can increase the risk of babies being born with physical birth abnormalities if taken during pregnancy.
Nearly two fifths (39%) of under 24-year-olds said they were not satisfied with the information they received about these risks.
53% of women with epilepsy under 24
were NOT AWARE of the risks of taking some epilepsy medicines in pregnancy
39% of women with epilepsy under 24
said they were NOT SATISFIED with the information they received
33% of women with epilepsy overall
were NOT AWARE of the risks of taking some epilepsy medicines in pregnancy
31% of women with epilepsy overall
had NEVER spoken to a doctor about the risks of taking epilepsy medicines in pregnancy
Communication must be improved
Overall, a third (33%) of women taking these medicines were not aware of the risks they carry in pregnancy.
The survey did show that awareness around the risks of taking sodium valproate in pregnancy is improving, with only 9% of responders unaware. However, the level of awareness was different between age groups, with a fifth (20%) of over 45-year-olds unaware of the risks, compared to just 2% of 25-44-year-olds.
The charities say the overall results show that communication around epilepsy medicines and pregnancy must be improved.
Over a third of the responders (36%) said the information they received about the risks from their medicines was not adequate, including one in responders (17%) who said they weren’t at all satisfied.
“We have received multiple testimonies from women with epilepsy saying no discussions were ever held with them about the risks of taking certain medications while pregnant, some of which were really upsetting.”
Alison Fuller, director of Health Improvement and Influencing at Epilepsy Action, said: “While it is encouraging that there has been an increase in the proportion of people who are aware of the risks of valproate medicines, it is very concerning that a significant number of women and girls were unaware of the risks of other epilepsy medicines.
“We have received multiple testimonies from women with epilepsy saying no discussions were ever held with them about the risks of taking certain medications while pregnant, some of which were really upsetting.
“Our report on the survey results outlines recommendations for key stakeholders on how to address safety by communicating the risks of these medications, and ensure that the historic mistakes made with sodium valproate are not repeated.
“These include a national review of pre-conception counselling services to ensure that all women and girls with epilepsy are provided with the right information, at the right time and by the right healthcare professional.
“We will actively be pursuing and monitoring their implementation.
“We would also encourage all women and girls affected to raise this issue with their MPs, asking them to support our call for a national commitment to fund research on the effects of taking ASMs on pregnancy.”
The charities are calling for better communication and more information from healthcare professionals, and more research in the area.
It is vital that anyone taking epilepsy medications does not suddenly stop taking them as doing so could cause breakthrough seizures which could be harmful. The charities encourage anyone with any concerns to talk directly to their doctor about their treatment options.
April 04, 2023 | Education, EEG, Epilepsy, Human Interest Epilepsy, Medicine, Neurology, Research, Seizures, Technology
If you’re unsure about what it means for someone to have epilepsy, that’s totally OK. Unfortunately, it’s not as widely discussed as it should be.
Epilepsy can be complex, which can make it hard to understand. It’s a common condition that carries a huge stigma — largely because of the myths and misconceptions surrounding it.
Popular media has a unique way of inserting fear and judgment into the life experiences of people with epilepsy. Movie scenes overdramatize seizures, which perpetuates myths and increases negative stigma.
What causes epilepsy?
First, epilepsy is a chronic, neurological condition in which a person has recurrent seizures that aren’t provoked by other factors like a high fever, brain infection or metabolic problem (such as low blood sugar).
“The two important aspects here are ‘unprovoked’ and ‘epileptic,’” says Dr. Wolfgang Muhlhofer, a UW Medicine neurologist who specializes in seizures and epilepsy diagnosis. “In theory, any one of us can have a seizure. It’s just a matter of how sick we get or how much stress is put on our brains. ‘Epileptic’ means that the seizure is the result of abnormal electrical activity in the brain.”
Think of it like an electrical storm that swipes over the brain and causes involuntary activation of various brain regions. Seizures are caused by excessive firing of millions of brain cells (neurons) at the same time.
Now let’s debunk some myths about these seizures and living with epilepsy.
Myths about epilepsy
Myth: Seizures are always “dramatic”
The reality is: Different types of seizures can result in different symptoms, and not all are dramatic.
“The signs and symptoms we see during a seizure depend on what regions of the brain are affected by this electrical storm and whether the person stays aware during parts of the seizure,” says Muhlhofer.
The seizures we see in movies typically show the actor falling and shaking uncontrollably. These represent what are called grand mal seizures.
“There are seizure types that can make people shout out loudly, followed by thrashing, at times, violent, uncontrollable movements that make someone appear as if they might be intoxicated or having a temper tantrum,” says Muhlhofer. “But others can look like they are having a stroke, as they start talking gibberish, have difficulties expressing themselves, complain of ‘funny’ feelings or lose control over various body parts because of their seizure.”
Here’s a quick breakdown:
Grand mal seizures are the most common seizure types. Muhlhofer explains that you’ll typically see whole-body stiffening, often followed by rhythmic jerking and twitching. When the person having the seizure comes around, they’re often pretty disoriented.
Petit mal or absence seizures are the second-most common type.
“Someone who has an absence seizure typically just stops what they’re doing or stops talking mid-sentence and stares off into space,” says Muhlhofer.
After an absence seizure, the person will simply pick up where they left off without realizing what happened.
Focal onset seizures start in one particular part or region of the brain and are much more common in adults than kids. While it starts in one side of the brain, it can spread to other parts. Muhlhofer says that someone experiencing a focal onset seizure might see, hear, smell or taste things that aren’t there. These “partial” seizures are the most common in people with epilepsy.
Myth: A seizure requires an urgent trip to the emergency room
It’s often unnecessary to call 911 or take someone with epilepsy to the emergency department unless they injure themselves because of a grand mal seizure, the seizure lasts longer than three minutes or they are severely lethargic and unresponsive for 10 to 20 minutes following the seizure.
If someone has a seizure and they don’t have a known history of epilepsy, this is another situation where you should call 911.
Myth: You should hold someone down during a seizure
This myth is one of the most common — and could be one of the most dangerous. As a bystander, you might feel the need to restrain or guard a person in these situations, but that bares a risk of injury for you and the person going through the seizure.
“If someone is convulsing, turning them on their side to help their breathing makes it easier for any excessive saliva or blood to drain from their mouth,” says Muhlhofer. “Removing any sharp or restraining objects on their body or around them is the best and safest course of action.”
No one should ever put anything in the mouth of a seizing person. This can block their airway and actually worsen the outcome of a seizure.
“Following seizures, people can also appear very agitated, scared, confused, disoriented and even combative,” says Muhlhofer. “This is when it’s important to stay calm, redirect and reorient the person and try to keep them within a safe space.”
Myth: Epilepsy is untreatable
In fact, there are more than 30 prescription medications on the U.S. market to treat epileptic seizures, and more are constantly in development. For some, these medications allow some people to live seizure-free lives.
“There’s about a 64% chance for patients with epilepsy to achieve long-term seizure freedom on antiseizure medications alone,” says Muhlhofer. “If a specific antiseizure medication fails, then an add-on of a second or third medication provides an additional 11.6%-4.4% likelihood of seizure freedom, respectively.”
Myth: People with epilepsy can’t live normal lives
While epilepsy can be a disruptive condition, about two-thirds of patients with epilepsy experience long, seizure-free periods with just one antiseizure medication.
“People with epilepsy live very normal, productive and successful lives,” says Muhlhofer. “I have plenty of patients in leadership positions at larger corporations, healthcare professionals, artists, freelancers, construction workers or engineers.”
Muhlhofer explains that as long as you are seizure free for at least six months, you can drive and maintain your independence. “We’ve also learned a lot about the safety profile of antiseizure medications in pregnancy so that we can reduce the risk for the mother and the unborn child,” he says.
Myth: Epilepsy or seizures are an unmanageable, life-long condition
Muhlhofer suggests a deeper, careful look into this myth.
“It’s true that an epilepsy diagnosis made in adulthood tends to be a chronic medical condition that sticks with a person lifelong,” he says. “I’ve found that naturally occurring changes in our bodies, in particular hormonal changes, as well as changes in our lifestyle that tend to occur naturally over our lifetime, can affect how strongly that underlying tendency shows itself.”
Here’s an example: Women who used to have relatively predictable seizure clusters around their menstrual cycle could see a drastic reduction in seizure frequency as they transitioned into menopause.
“So, while epilepsy tends to be a lifelong condition in adults, its severity can fluctuate naturally, and antiseizure medications may be adjusted accordingly,” says Muhlhofer. “In certain epilepsy surgery cases, we see epilepsy patients becoming seizure-free off all their antiseizure medications. These patients are in remission, similar to becoming free of cancer.”
It’s a little different with kids. Children can have “benign” epilepsy syndromes between ages three and ten that they outgrow as they get older. They might not need treatment or medications for the rest of their life.
Myth: Prescription medication is the only treatment for epilepsy
It turns out, there’s a solid amount of research out there that explored the benefits of dietary treatments, such as the ketogenic or modified Atkinson diet.
In Muhlhofer’s words: there are ways for people to directly influence their seizure frequency and intensity through their behavior and lifestyle decisions.
Other alternative treatment options include implantable devices such as the vagus nerve stimulator, the deep brain stimulator, the brain-responsive neurostimulator and epilepsy surgery.
In addition, epilepsy surgery, especially under optimal conditions, can result in long-term seizure-free rates of 60 to 70%, including the chance to reduce or even eliminate the need to take multiple antiseizure medications.
Certain types of cognitive behavioral therapy and mindfulness training can also act as supportive treatments for seizures.
Ultimately, epilepsy deserves more understanding and respect than we get from popular media, and people living with epilepsy deserve to be seen as they are.
“Listening to my patients’ stories and trying to help them navigate their lives with epilepsy, it becomes very clear to me: epilepsy is an ‘invisible disability,’” says Muhlhofer. “Patients often struggle with side effects from medications, memory and cognitive difficulties, mental health conditions and on top of that, social stigma and hidden discrimination that remains unbroken despite all public health education. It is our responsibility to educate people about seizures and foster a better understanding and support for them.”
Source: rightasrain.uwmedicine.org, Ari Cofer
April 03, 2023 | Depression, Epilepsy, Mental Health, Neurology, Seizures
Source: bizjournals.com, Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Dr. Heidi Munger Clary
April 02, 2023 | Diagnosis Techniques, Epilepsy, Mental Health, Neurology, Seizures
People with epilepsy (PWE) have excess mortality, even those without comorbidities and receiving monotherapy, according to a study published online March 22 in Neurology.
Hye-Jin Moon, M.D., Ph.D., from Soonchunhyang University Bucheon Hospital in South Korea, and colleagues estimated the risk and causes of death in PWE according to age, disease severity, disease course, comorbidities, and socioeconomic status in a population-based retrospective cohort study using the National Health Insurance database linked with the national death register for Korea.
The researchers identified 20,095 deaths among 138,998 PWE during a mean follow-up of 4.79 years. In the overall group of PWE, the standardized mortality ratio (SMR) was 2.25, with a higher value seen in the younger age group at diagnosis and a shorter interval after diagnosis. The SMR was 1.56 and 4.93 among patients receiving monotherapy and those receiving four or more antiseizure medications, respectively. The SMR was 1.61 for PWE without any comorbidities. SMR was higher for PWE who were rural versus urban residents (2.47 versus 2.03). Among PWE, the causes of death were cerebrovascular disease, malignant neoplasms outside the central nervous system (CNS), malignant neoplasms of the CNS, pneumonia, and external causes, including suicide (SMRs, 4.50, 1.37, 46.95, 2.08, 2.17, and 2.07, respectively). Overall, 1.9 percent of deaths were accounted for by epilepsy itself and status epilepticus.
“Active control of seizures, education about injury prevention, monitoring for suicidal thoughts, and efforts to improve accessibility to epilepsy care all contribute to reducing mortality,” a coauthor said in a statement.
April 01, 2023 | Cannabis Derived Medicine, Epilepsy, Epilepsy in children, Epilepsy in seniors, Epilepsy in women, Epilepsy Syndromes, Research, Seizures, Stress and Epilepsy, Treatment, Women and Epilepsy
CBD is rising in trend as people are getting aware of its health benefits. For many years, the use of Cannabidiol was considered illegal, just like the online Neosurf casino, but now you can use it legally in several forms. You may see CBD powder used in gyms to add to post-workout smoothies, use CBD oil for pain relief, and even sports bras infused with CBD.
Although CBD is obtained from cannabis, it has several medical benefits. Unlike other components that make you buzzed, CBD use in safe amounts helps you deal with several health issues. Through a massive amount of research and their results, CBD is tagged to improve overall mental and physical health as follows:
Anxiety prevails throughout the world every day, and you need to help yourself not to fall victim. It is a leading cause of mental health disorders. Several types of anxiety disorders can affect your mental health. You might not know, but panic disorder and PTSD are also forms of anxiety. CBD has been shown to reduce the symptoms of anxiety to several degrees.
Although CBD oils are effective and have attracted the attention of a large population, you should consult with your healthcare provider and let them diagnose your condition before incorporating CBD into your routine.
Relieve Chronic Pains
Chronic pains are torturous; often, the medicines stop working after some time, and you have to switch to more heavy doses. But it is worth a shot to find an alternative treatment choice that can provide you with the same health benefits without the hassle. CBD products are approved by authorities to relieve several types of pains that make your lives difficult.
The human body naturally produces endocannabinoid neurotransmitters to regulate sleep, appetite, pain, and immune response. These neurotransmitters bind to the cannabinoid receptors to perform their action. Similarly, CBD binds to these receptors to regulate your body’s natural mechanism without adverse effects.
Reduce Symptoms Of Epilepsy
Epilepsy is a mental disorder where you have fits of attack with specific triggers. People with epilepsy are under several medications to prevent the symptoms and frequency of epileptic seizures. But instead of burdening your stomach and liver with the medicines, you should switch to healthy CBD products.
CBD is approved globally to treat epilepsy disorders, no matter the type. It is even more effective than using the placebo to reduce seizures and their frequency. However, checking in with your doctor before starting any alternative treatment is always a good practice. Let them know about your intentions, and they can guide you on whether to use the medication and CBD products.
Helps With Insomnia
Insomnia is a sleep disorder where you can’t fall asleep no matter what. People with severe insomnia can even stay awake for many days with a shut eye due to exhaustion. If it is happening to you and you spend your night playing on No minimum deposit casinos 1$ for a time pass, Invest in CBD products.
CBD can not only help you to fall asleep but also help you to stay asleep to rejuvenate your exhausted mind and body. So, please remove your sleeping tablets resting on your nightstand and replace them with CBD oil.
CBD products are gaining recognition from many people worldwide. And therefore, manufacturing companies are designing newer products like oils, extracts, patches, vapes, capsules, and topical preparations for their ease of use. But remember, if you are taking any prescribed medication for any health condition, you must consult your doctor about using CBD products.
March 31, 2023 | Causes, Depression, Education, Epilepsy, Epilepsy in women, Human Interest Epilepsy, Migraine, Pregnancy, Prevention, Seizures, Technology
Male and female brains are also different when it comes to epilepsy. And these differences are already formed during a pregnancy: thanks to the hypothalamus which is the cortical region that controls all our peripheral glands, the brain therefore differentiates into female and male.
The main difference can be found above all in the onset of epilepsy which can be different in terms of age of onset of the manifestations, although in reality the type of seizure is more or less always the same, and in the ability and sensitivity to respond to any drugs. In addition, neurotransmitters play an important role in our brain, including hormone receptors that can modify electrical activity and facilitate the onset of seizures; for this reason in women crises can occur more easily in the premenstrual period and in the ovulation period. The incidence of epilepsy is slightly higher in men than in women, regardless of country of origin.
This gender difference could be due to the genotype, to a different prevalence of risk factors in the two sexes or to the concealment of the pathology in women for socio-cultural reasons. Epileptic seizures break into daily life in both sexes and have a significant impact in school, work and society, especially in the lives of women, due to their central role in childcare. Furthermore, the use of anti-seizure drugs can have a negative impact on hormonal and reproductive levels: menstrual cycle, use of contraceptives, pregnancy, fetal health and breastfeeding. Regarding the response to drugs in women and men, the studies currently available have not yet shown significant responses.
“Although there is no scientific evidence – explains Laura Tassi, President of LICE, the Italian League against Epilepsy and Chief Medical Officer in Epilepsy and Parkinson’s Surgery at the ASST Grande Ospedale Metropolitano Niguarda (Milan) – we can say that probably the answer to drugs in women and men is the same. As doctors our difficulty lies above all in the therapeutic choice, because drugs can modify the hormonal balance especially in women and cause, for example, a polycystic ovary which contributes to reducing fertility in long-term, although we know that the proportion of women who have epilepsy-associated polycystic ovary is much higher overall and is independent of medication.” The pharmacological approach is the first treatment strategy and is therefore based on the regular administration of anti-seizure drugs which, with various mechanisms, stabilize the electrical properties of the nerve cell membrane. The drug intake is daily and it is essential that it be regular and constant, the sudden interruption of the drug could cause the onset of crises.
“Epilepsy is surrounded by many prejudices – intervenes Oriano Mecarelli, LICE Past President – and this implies that, also from a social point of view, there are serious repercussions: people with epilepsy, still today, suffer discrimination at school, on the work and in many other contexts. This strongly penalizes their quality of life. If intervention is made with a correct and early diagnosis and adequate therapy, the pathology can be kept under control in about 70% of cases, but it still remains to be addressed 30% of drug-resistant forms. Furthermore, there are some data in the literature documenting that women with epilepsy are more subject to violence and discrimination, even in the family environment and that women who have suffered sexual violence in adolescence may present more frequently psychogenic non-epileptic seizures, but they are often misdiagnosed and treated as seizures. Moreover, women with epilepsy experience have more difficulty than the others in carrying on stable emotional relationships and, on average, have fewer children”. These are the 10 most frequent fears in women with Epilepsy, to which the Lice answers: – Can Epilepsy or drugs for Epilepsy cause menstrual cycle irregularities? Menstrual irregularities could be partly associated with an increased frequency of polycystic ovarian syndrome in women with epilepsy under treatment, although not confirmed by all studies. – Epilepsy and anti-seizure drugs interfere with sex life? People with Epilepsy report sexual disturbances more frequently. Some drugs that interfere with sex hormones have been implicated in causing a less satisfying sex life in men and women. It is also possible that drugs with a more “sedative” effect on the central nervous system reduce cravings. – Does epilepsy affect fertility? Studies have shown that women and men with epilepsy become parents less frequently. A slight reduction in fertility, due to a direct effect of seizures or anti-seizure drugs on reproductive hormones, and psychological and social factors may be implicated. Furthermore, there are important differences related to the type of epilepsy and any associated disorders that can influence the intention to become parents.
Is it possible to use a hormonal contraceptive? Combined contraceptives (estrogens and progestogens) interact with some medications. This leads to a reduction in contraceptive efficacy. This applies not only to the “pill”, but also to the plaster and vaginal ring forms. – Is Epilepsy genetically transmissible? Epilepsy is very rarely genetically determined and transmissible to one’s children. – Can anti-seizure drugs cause birth defects? The drugs can be teratogenic, thus inducing malformations. A pregnancy is possible but must be planned. In the 3-4 months before the beginning of each pregnancy, folic acid must be taken, which is a neuroprotector and it is important to choose suitable drugs in order to have a pregnancy in which the risks are more or less equal to those of women who do not suffer from Epilepsy. You should always contact your epileptologist or the main epilepsy and pregnancy centers. – In menopause or in pregnancy, will the trend of the crises change? The effects of menopause and pregnancy on crises are not always predictable and these can increase, decrease or remain unchanged. Women who have always had a tendency to have seizures in the menstrual period may have an increase in seizures just before menopause, and then experience, usually a decrease after menopause has definitively established. – Is it possible to take hormone replacement therapy or are there any contraindications? There are no absolute contraindications to hormone replacement therapy, however it should be borne in mind that it has been reported that this can be associated with a worsening of crises in some circumstances and, above all, in some high-dose formulations. – Is there an increased risk of osteoporosis due to the disease or the anti-seizure drugs? The risk of osteoporosis is increased by 2-3 times in people with epilepsy, in relation to the use of certain drugs. – Are there any special recommendations for bone health in people with epilepsy? In general, the recommendations are those that apply to the entire population: a balanced diet rich in calcium and vitamin D, maintaining a healthy weight, regular physical activity, possibly in the open air, avoiding alcohol and smoking.
With over 50 million people affected worldwide, epilepsy is one of the most widespread neurological diseases, which is why the World Health Organization has recognized epilepsy as a social disease. It is estimated that in industrialized countries it affects about 1 in 100 people: in Italy about 600,000 people suffer from Epilepsy, as many as 6 million in Europe. In high-income countries the incidence of epilepsy has two peaks, respectively in the first year of life and after the age of 75: in Italy it is estimated that 86 new cases of epilepsy occur every year in the first year of life, 20-30 in youth/adulthood and 180 after the age of 75.
March 29, 2023 | Education, Epilepsy, Medicine, Seizures, Treatment
The term ‘epilepsy’ encompasses various symptoms that vary in nature and severity, and are different from what is typically portrayed on TV or in movies; an Israeli expert shares everything you should know about the condition that affects approximately 1% of the population
A lot of people associate epilepsy with uncontrollable convulsions and a frothing mouth, but in reality, the condition presents itself in various ways and with varying degrees of severity, and there are different approaches to treating it.
Based on estimates, at least one percent of the population is affected by epilepsy, which manifests in different types and degrees of severity. Epilepsy is fundamentally characterized by abnormal electrical activity in a group of cells or the entire brain, which can result in cognitive, sensory, or behavioral abnormalities.
These abnormalities are typically sudden, recurring, and unpredictable, and they interrupt normal brain activity.
As the International Epilepsy Awareness Day on March 26 draws near, it’s important to be aware of some key information about this condition.
What are the symptoms of epilepsy?
They may include flashing lights or tingling sensations in a particular part of the body, feelings of fear or anxiety, sudden jerking movements of limbs, and seizures.
What causes these symptoms?
The answer lies in the location of the abnormal electrical activity in the brain. The impact of epilepsy is determined by the specific group of cells affected and their function. An epileptic episode can be limited to a specific group of cells and result in partial symptoms, or it can spread throughout the brain, causing seizures, loss of consciousness, and other serious symptoms.
How is epilepsy diagnosed?
Typically, when seizures occur repeatedly, the patient will undergo an examination. The diagnostic process involves interviewing the patient to gain insight into the nature of the seizures. In some cases, a witness who observed the seizures, particularly during episodes of loss of consciousness, may also be interviewed.
If epilepsy is suspected, the patient will be referred for an EEG test to analyze the electrical activity in the brain.
As the test is usually not conducted during an active seizure, a negative result does not necessarily rule out the presence of epilepsy. In such cases, additional tests may be conducted, such as monitoring the patient for at least 24 hours using CCTV. This test is referred to as “video EEG monitoring.” Furthermore, the patient may also be tested after prolonged periods of sleep deprivation.
The tests will examine the underlying cause of the seizure. Potential causes may include abnormalities in brain structure, such as tumors or irregular blood vessels, metabolic dysfunction, genetic factors, and inflammatory brain disorders. Ultimately, doctors will try to identify the specific group of cells in the brain that are responsible for the seizures.
What are the treatments for epilepsy?
There are various types of treatments available. The first is drug therapy aimed at preventing seizures. There are numerous medications that can help to reduce abnormal brain activity. For drug therapy to be effective, it is crucial that the patient takes the prescribed medication regularly and maintains good communication with their doctor.
If the tests reveal a structural issue in the brain, such as a tumor or abnormal blood vessels, surgical treatment such as tumor removal may be necessary. If drug therapy is ineffective in controlling epilepsy, and the problematic area in the brain is identified, it may be possible to remove it surgically, as long as it does not serve a critical bodily function.
Another approach may involve implanting an electrical pacemaker or other advanced treatment options that enable seizure control. However, these options may not be suitable for everyone and may be limited in their effectiveness against the condition.
Source: ynetnews.com, Dr. Baruch Elad
March 28, 2023 | EEG, Epilepsy, Neurology, PNES, Research, Seizures, Support, Technology
Summary: Higher levels of immune proteins are present in the blood both before and after an epileptic seizure. Researchers say the biomarkers can be identified via a simple blood test.
Source: Lund University
Researchers from Lund University in Sweden have discovered higher levels of immune proteins in the blood before and after an epileptic seizure. The possible biomarkers can be identified using a simple blood test.
Diagnosing epilepsy is currently resource intensive, and distinguishing it from other conditions can be challenging. Better diagnostic methods as soon as the patient seeks medical care after a suspected seizure are therefore an urgent necessity.
Epilepsy is the collective name for abnormal activity in the brain that causes temporary loss of control of behavior and movement. The condition can be congenital, be caused by a tumor, stroke or infection in the brain and cause very different symptoms depending on which part of the brain the episode begins in or spreads to. Inflammation processes that start as an immune response in the body can also provoke a seizure.
That is why researchers started to look for possible biomarkers for epilepsy within the immune system. Previous studies exist, but the results have so far been mixed and difficult to interpret:
“In our study, we have a carefully selected group of participants and we have a lot of background information on each person. We have also taken into account a number of confounding factors that may affect the immune system such as other neurological and immunological illnesses, infections and various psychiatric conditions,” says Christine Ekdahl Clementson
She is a group leader and associate professor at Lund University and a Consultant in Clinical Neurophysiology at Skåne University Hospital. Her focus is on advanced epilepsy investigations and she has led the research study. The research team have also compared epileptic seizures with what are known as psychogenic non-epileptic seizures.
Psychogenic seizure is a psychiatric diagnosis that manifests itself through clinical symptoms that can easily be mistaken for epilepsy. It is a chronic condition that is believed to be underdiagnosed and as a result is often mistakenly treated with epilepsy medication. That is why there is a great need to be able to distinguish between the conditions more easily.
“The investigation to establish whether someone is suffering from epilepsy or is affected by psychogenic seizures is resource intensive. It may require the patient to be admitted to hospital for several days with constant video and EEG surveillance, with medical staff on hand around the clock. It is hard on the patient that it takes time to reach a diagnosis,” says Marie Taylor, physician and doctoral student in the research team.
Researchers discovered that levels of five inflammation markers—proteins—were elevated acutely in people who had experienced an epileptic seizure.
“We call these markers ‘fingerprints’ since they involve several inflammation-related proteins with different reaction patterns. The patients who had epilepsy showed raised levels of one of the five proteins—IL-6—even before their seizures, a value that transiently raised even further directly after the seizure,” says Marie Taylor.
Among patients with psychogenic seizures, however, there was no change in the biomarkers. This might mean that a simple blood test on a patient arriving at A&E after a seizure can show whether the immunological response is elevated. If it is not, there is a greater chance that it is a matter of a psychogenic seizure, which provides a first indication of how the patient should be further assessed.
“The next stage is to repeat our studies on a broader and less homogenous patient group, where we investigate the ‘fingerprint’ in adults with epilepsy. We also want to see whether the biomarkers respond in the same way in children, where the causes of epilepsy are more often genetic.
“We are doing this through an ongoing study in Lund, in collaboration with child and adolescent psychiatry as well as pediatric neurology,” Christine Ekdahl Clementson concludes.
Source: neurosciencenews.com, Matilda Ahl et al. Heliyon
March 28, 2023 | Causes, Epilepsy, Human Interest Epilepsy, Seizures
Neurodivergent and disabled people are speaking out and demanding space in live music venues and two music festivals have answered the call.
The festivals based in Victoria announced they would be easing the use of strobe lights at future events to make them more inclusive for people who suffer from epilepsy.
Thousands will flock to Golden Plains Festival this Labor Day long weekend for three days of live music on private farmland between Geelong and Ballarat.
The annual festival is host to a stacked line-up of homegrown and global stars, including Bikini Kill, Angel Olson, Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever and Carly Rae Jepsen.
“We are in the process of making The Sup (stage) more accessible, which includes making significant changes to stage lighting,” the festival organizers said in a statement this week.
All acts that take to the natural amphitheater stage, known as The Sup, have committed to playing without strobe lights.
The festival has also made efforts to redesign lighting controls to limit brightness, flash rate, fade time and duration as well as retrain lighting operators.
The operators – who are also behind the Meredith Music Festival hosted at the same site every December – have committed to seeing the changes through at both festivals.
“For many, exposure to these effects can be uncomfortable or debilitating. For some, they can pose serious health and safety risks,” organizers said.
“After consultation and consideration, we have taken steps to greatly reduce the potentially harmful use of these effects in The Sup.”
The major change comes after Melbourne artist Our Carlson, who suffers from epilepsy, called out the Meredith music festival for using strobe lights last December.
“If any of you have got strobe lights in your sets you’re ‘F*****’ ableist … If you see someone using strobes later, normalize booing and just boo ’em,” Carlson told The Guardian.
“Then we can all have fun together safely.”
Heartbreak High star Chloéo Hayden and radio personality Em Rusciano both made waves this week when they spoke about their experiences at the Australian leg of Harry Styles’ Love on Tour.
Hayden was turned away from Melbourne’s Marvel Stadium sensory room after staff told her she didn’t appear to “look autistic enough”.
The week before, Rusciano told her Instagram followers how thrilled she was about using that very room if she became overwhelmed and praised the stadium for making strides towards inclusivity.
Other ticketholders reached out to the two stars after the concert, sharing similar experiences of “ableism” or discrimination towards people with disability.
Research psychologist and autistic person Dr Jac den Houting said it comes down to the fact that disabled people have every right to enjoy live music and events that non-disabled people enjoy.
“Maybe it sounds a bit strange for an autistic person but I actually like the sensory overload of being in the front row of a live gig when one of my favorite bands is playing,” they said.
Research shows that more than 90 per cent of autistic people have sensory processing differences which could mean they are more or less sensitive to things like sound or light.
“Something that might be a tolerable level of sound or light for a neurotypical person might for an autistic person feel like standing next to a jumbo jet or having a torch shone directly in your eyes,” Dr den Houting said.
They said it can often come down to a sense of control over the the sensory input they are receiving which proves the simple but powerful effect of creating spaces like sensory rooms.
Chloé Hayden set up an interview with Marvel Stadium chief executive Michael Green and updated her followers with news he accepted a number of commitments, including the construction of a second sensory room and retraining venue staff.
“I will never stop fighting this fight, and I will never not be thankful for having an army to fight it alongside me,” Hayden said.
“Just the presence of those features creates a sense of safety, that if something unexpected happens, and I do need it, it‘s there,” Dr den Houting said.
“It says something about the attitudes of the organizers and it also sends a message to the crowd to expect to see disabled people here, that we are part of the community.”
Hayden and Dr den Houting are speaking on the Actually Autistic panel at the Sydney Opera House’s All About Women event this weekend alongside former Australian of the Year Grace Tame.
NCA NewsWire reached out to other major Australian music festivals to provide detail on how they were making their venues more accessible but none were provided.
Source: thewest.com.au, Madeleine Achenza
March 25, 2023 | Education, Epilepsy, Human Interest Epilepsy, Purple Day, Seizures
AN APPLEBY based artist is raising money for Purple Day – a day dedicated to increasing awareness about epilepsy worldwide.
Known for her business Lauren’s Cows, 33-year-old artist Lauren Terry was diagnosed with epilepsy when she was 10 years old and it’s a condition that still affects her today.
She said: “Epilepsy is a widely misunderstood condition that has many stigma attached to it. Purple Day is so important, not only as a way to raise funds for families requiring support, but to help people understand epilepsy and not be afraid of it.”
While working as an actor in London, Lauren took up painting in her free time but it was a single painting of a cow that kick started her change of career.
Encouraged by a local gallery owner, Lauren agreed to paint a collection of twenty cows for an exhibition and so Lauren’s Cows was born.
Now with a range of luxury homeware, cards and prints, Lauren’s characterful cattle have become a household name.
Lauren said: “Stress is one of the foremost triggers for epileptics. I find the act of painting very cathartic, so to be able to make a living from it has improved my quality of life no end!
“Although running a business has its challenges, nothing is more relaxing for me than hanging out in a field with my camera and a herd of cows. They just make me smile.”
Purple Day is a global event held on the March 26 every year where people are encouraged to wear purple in support of Epilepsy Awareness.
The fundraising event will run from 11am to 4pm on Sunday March 26 at Lauren’s Cows headquarters, The Cows Shed, Kings Barn, Crackenthorpe.
Visitors will be able to shop the Lauren’s Cows collection with 20% of all sales going to Epilepsy Action.
Join Lauren and Jude for cake, coffee and a raffle full of fantastic prizes from local businesses, it’s a great day out for all the family.
Source: thewestmorlandgazette.co.uk, Filipa Gaspar,
March 24, 2023 | Epilepsy, Human Interest Epilepsy, Seizures
Ness Bridge will light up purple to help raise awareness of epilepsy for Purple Day on Sunday.
Purple Day was founded in Canada in 2008 by nine-year-old Cassidy Megan and is a great opportunity to get people talking about epilepsy and dispel the myths and stigma attached to the condition.
More than 40 buildings and landmarks across Scotland will be lit up purple for the day and Epilepsy Scotland is asking schools, local communities and people in their workplaces to wear something purple during March to help raise awareness and help support the estimated 58,000 people living with epilepsy in Scotland.
The charity’s campaign has been supported by football clubs Queen’s Park and Raith Rovers and ice hockey team, the Glasgow Clan.
Epilepsy Scotland chief executive Lesslie Young said: “We are delighted so many landmarks across Scotland will light up purple for Purple Day.
“These displays help us raise awareness of epilepsy with the aim of diminishing the social stigma that can surround it.
“Awareness days such as Purple Day are a great opportunity for people to learn more about epilepsy and to support our vital services, including our national helpline, wellbeing services, and information available through our website.
“We would really like to see people sharing photos of their own purple day activities as well as pictures of landmarks and buildings being lit up in their areas. It should be a fun day for all but with the aim of helping others.”
Source: inverness-courier.co.uk, Gregor White
March 20, 2023 | Depression, Epilepsy, Human Interest Epilepsy, Medicine
The UN insists in a report published this Thursday on the importance of people suffering from mental health problems having adequate access to psychotropic substances for medical use and warns that 75% of these patients live in countries where their treatment is insufficient. “Despite the universal recognition that psychotropic substances are indispensable from a medical point of view, millions of people continue to suffer,” denounces the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) in its 2022 report on the drug market in the world. This organization of the United Nations system gives examples of problems such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, or substance addiction, recalling that mental health is among the UN Millennium Goals.
Although the report admits that this has contributed to raising awareness about these problems, it also warns that investments in medical care “have not met the demand of the population affected by mental health problems.” The INCB recalls that the World Health Organization (WHO) states that at least three-quarters of the world’s population with mental, neurological, and substance use disorders live in low- and middle-income countries, where mental health services and the availability of medicines are insufficient. “Between 76 and 85% of people with severe mental health disorders in low- and middle-income countries do not receive treatment for these disorders, including people living with epilepsy, of whom nearly 80 % reside in those countries,” says the INCB. In addition, it warns that humanitarian crises due to wars, climate change, or health crises have a “profound effect” on people’s mental health.
It especially cites health and emergency personnel, the elderly, children, and those who have problems with drugs or previous mental disorders. The Board refers to the double problem that the availability and access to psychotropic substances are insufficient in most of the world and that, in parallel, in some countries, there is an excess of prescription and self-medication with psychoactive substances. “Governments are reminded to ensure that those living with mental health problems have access to adequate treatment and the necessary medicines to alleviate their suffering and, therefore, can fully participate in society without stigma or discrimination,” claims the INCB.
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