On an average, about 150,000 people in America are diagnosed with the disorder of central nervous system each year, which causes seizures. There can be a range of symptoms of seizures, such as staring blankly momentarily, uncontrollable twitching and loss of awareness. Although some seizures can be a bit mild than others, even they can be extremely dangerous for anyone, especially if they occur while driving or swimming.
The following are the things you must know:
At a broader level, it is estimated that 1 in every 26 people in the USA will be diagnosed with epilepsy. In fact, after migraine, Alzheimer’s and stroke, epilepsy is the fourth most common neurological disease.
Types of Epilepsy
As of 2017, there are two main groups to three as per the classifications of seizures by ILAE (International League Against Epilepsy) based on the following three features:
- Seizures start in the brain
- The awareness level during a seizure
- Features of seizures, viz. auras and motor skills
Types of Seizures – Focal onset, Unknown onset and Generalized.
- 60% of epileptics seizures are focal seizures
- 20% of people with epilepsy experience NES (non-epileptic seizures)
- 30% of people with epilepsy experience generalised epilepsy
As per an estimate, about 3.4 million people in the US – comes out to be 1.2% of the population nationwide – have active epilepsy. It we talk about epilepsy worldwide, the count is more than 65 million.
The studies have not yet identified the prime age of diagnosis, as it can begin at any time in one’s lifetime. However, the rate of incidence is higher in children below age 2 years and in adults aged 55 years or more.
The Child Neurology Foundation says that about 50 to 60% children with seizures will eventually defeat seizures and never experience them again as adults.
One-fourth of newly diagnosed cases of epilepsy worldwide are in children. Out of over 3 million Americans diagnosed with epilepsy, about 470,000 are children. The most common age of epilepsy diagnosis is before age 20 and after 65. The new cases of diagnosis are mostly in individuals after 55 and people after this age commonly develop tumours, strokes, and Alzheimer’s. Epilepsy Statistics as per Child Neurology Foundation:
- 30 to 40% children have epilepsy without seizures
- 20% children have intellectual disability
- 20 to 50% children have specific learning disability
Only a small number of children have a serious neurological disorder, viz. cerebral palsy.
Whether or not ethnicity plays a role in developing epilepsy is not yet clear. They have a pretty hard time finding out a significant cause for epilepsy development. However, the Epilepsy Foundation has the following points for your consideration:
- Hispanics are more prone to epilepsy than non-Hispanics.
- White people are more prone to active epilepsy than black people.
- Black people have higher lifetime prevalence than white people.
- About 1.5% of the Asian Americans have epilepsy at present.
Epilepsy is not gender-specific. This means anyone can develop certain sub-types of epilepsy.
A study in 2008 revealed that men are more prone to symptomatic epilepsies than women, whereas idiopathic generalised epilepsies are more common in women than men. If there are any differences, they might be attributed to biological differences between the two genders, social function and hormonal changes.
There can be a range of risk factors that result in higher chances of epilepsy development, including the following:
Age of an Individual: Although there is no specific age for epilepsy development, chances are higher in two distinct phases are “Early Childhood” and “After the Age of 55”.
Childhood Seizures – Children often develop seizures which might not be related to epilepsy but due to high fevers. Some of these children may develop epilepsy, if not all.
Brain Infections – Brain and spinal cord inflammation are induced by Meningitis and can increase the risk of developing epilepsy.
Dementia – The decrease in mental function, especially in adults, can lead to epilepsy development.
Vascular Diseases – Decreasing blood vessels and strokes can damage one’s brain. Even a small damage to any part of the brain can cause seizures and then epilepsy later on. To avoid this from happening, avoid tobacco and excessive consumption of alcohol.
Family History – If someone in your close family has epilepsy, then you may also develop this disorder sooner or later. Children are at 5% risk of developing epilepsy if any of their parents have this disorder.
The symptoms of epilepsy are dependent on which part of the brain is affected and the type of seizures being experience. Some common symptoms are:
- Loss of recognition or consciousness
- Uncontrollable movements, viz. Pulling and Jerking
- Recurrent movements
People with epilepsy are 15 to 19 times more likely to drown as compared to others. These people experience anxiety and depression, which can lead to the following complications:
Car Accident – Loss of awareness can suddenly affect one’s ability to drive/control a car. Resultantly, they could injure themselves as well as pedestrians/other vehicle.
Drowning – Such individuals are more likely to drown than others. Seizures while swimming may lead to an unforeseen scenario.
Emotional Behaviour – People with epilepsy experience anxiety and depression and they are 22% more likely to commit suicide.
Pregnancy-related Risks – About 15 to 20% individuals with epilepsy have worse seizures. Also, newborns may have birth-defects.
About 70% people with epilepsy are likely to get relief from their symptoms if they get the right and adequate treatment. Below are some common treatments of epilepsy:
Medication – More than 20 anti-seizure medications have been effective for most people with epilepsy.
Diets – Ketogenic diet has been effective for most people with this condition.
Surgery – Imaging test can find out the affected area(s) of the brain, which doctors may remove by performing a surgery.