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Epilepsy... by Dr.Nandita Bajaj(Consultant paediatric neurologist, Germany)

June 19, 2020, 5:29 p.m. by Dr Nandita Bajaj ( 537 views)

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Epilepsy, also known as “Mirgirog”or“Apasmar rog” in the Ayurvedic literature of Charaka Samhita, is a brain condition that causes repeated episodes of sudden, brief changes in the brain’s electrical activity.

Epilepsy |EEG |Karuwakispeaks

It manifests itself most commonly as brief episodes or seizures with violent convulsive or jerky movements of the whole body, loss of consciousness, fall to the ground and frothing at the mouth sometimes accompanied by tongue bite or involuntary urination. Anyone who has witnessed this frightening sight can never forget it and when it happens to a child the parents panic and fear that the child will die. These are called generalized tonic-clonic seizures. But thankfully most of these seizures stop by themselves within 2-3 minutes and the person recovers consciousness gradually even without medical treatment.

During the seizure it should be assured that the person lies in a safe place so that he does not get injured for example away from sharp objects or fire, if possible he should be laid sideways, no object should be attempted to force between his teeth with the intention of preventing tongue-bite (it will only cause more injury), nothing should be offered to drink or eat till he regains consciousness completely and crowding should be avoided in order to allow fresh air for breathing. Appropriate and speedy medical care should be organized. Old practices like placing a shoe in front of the nose etc. have no scientific basis.

Other less severe manifestations of epilepsy are called absence seizures during which the person stares blankly for a few secondswithout responding and without losing consciousness completely. Some other seizures consist of short jerks of a single limb or one half of the body.

Epilepsy is a disease of the brain known since ancient times. In the last few decades we have acquired a tremendous amount of knowledge about this disease and its causes, some of which are:Brain injury, either before or after birth, structural abnormalities of the developing brain in the newborn baby, biochemical diseases, brain tumours, infections, especially meningitis and encephalitis, tapeworm Infection in the brain, stroke, genetic conditions, abnormal blood vessels in the brain etc. Some seizures occur only for a short time or only once, for example seizures during high fever in children or after head injury. The diagnosis of epilepsy is established by an Electroencephalography (EEG) which is a test performed by placing electrodes on the head and recording the abnormal brain activity (similar to performing an ECG for the heart). Structural defects of the brain can be diagnosed by performing brain imaging like an MRI scan.

Whatever the cause, thanks to the great advancements in treatment, in about 70-80 percent of cases the epilepsy can be controlled with medicines. Some genetic types of epilepsies occurring in childhood disappear by themselves when the child grows up.Many new genes causing epilepsy are being constantly discovered leading to accurate diagnosis especially of the hereditary forms of the condition. Nowadays many localized brain abnormalities like tumours or structural abnormalities in children causing epilepsy can be cured surgically in specialized epilepsy surgery centres.

Epilepsy |Brain |Karuwakispeaks

In the olden days epilepsy was not known to be a disease of the brain and was considered to be a manifestation of evil spirits or demons. The patients were subjected to torture through witchcraft or priests and other self-proclaimed healers and were ostracised by the society. Unfortunately even in the modern times the disease still carries a lot of social stigma in the society and the patients face problems in marriage, education, hobbies and job-opportunities.

As I have explained the epilepsies are not all similar in severity and type. Only a minority of patients suffer a severe form of the disease. The rest of the patients can lead almost normal lives under proper medical advice. There is no need to be ashamed of this disease and also no need to despair. It is important to seek immediate medical help preferably from a neurologist. In case of children, if possible, a child neurologist should be consulted because the spectrum of conditions causing epilepsy in children and newborn babies can be quite different from that in the adults.

Epilepsy |Brain Tumors |Karuwakispeaks

Also help can be obtained from the many self-help groups and local and international organizations with branches all over the world for example national epilepsy societies, the International Bureau for Epilepsy (IBE) and many voluntary organizations who are working to spread social awareness about the disease and organize medical care even in remote areas of the world. Here are some links:




Epilepsy |First seizures |Karuwakispeaks

(NOTE:Photos from internet for Illustrative purpose)

-Dr Nandita Bajaj(Consultant paediatric neurologist, Germany)

MBBS: SCB medical college, Cuttack, India

Residency in Paediatrics: Ramkrishna Mission sevaPratisthan, Kolkata

MD Paediatrics: MKCG hospital, Berhampur, India

Lecturer in Paediatrics and Epilepsy: B.J. WadiaChildrens Hospital, Mumbai, India

Comments (3)

AnonymousUser 3 months, 1 week ago
AnonymousUser 3 months, 1 week ago
Kudos Nandita
AnonymousUser 3 months, 1 week ago
So simply explained, every one should be aware of it.