Epilepsy is a rather widespread disease. It affects approximately 0.3% of the population. Frequently, there are people among our acquaintances, relatives or friends who also suffer from this disease.

Notwithstanding today’s treatment possibilities, there is a common belief that it is an incurable disease or that there is no significant help for the patients. People consider that epilepsy is expressed only as falling on the ground with the accompanying convulsions and foam from the mouth. Epilepsy’s forms, which occur without convulsions, are not recognised as such quite frequently, as well as loss of consciousness similar to fainting.

These forms of epilepsy are often missed in children.

. They often experience short-term loss of consciousness, freezing, lack of awareness.

Even when this is noticed by family members or teachers, such behavior is explained with inattentiveness or wandering in thoughts.

Epilepsy can also manifest as weird behavior onsets, inadequate expression of emotions. One can experience sudden anger or aggression which can be very out of character for the person, or sudden screaming, laughing or attaching to others. People with these onsets do not realize that they are inadequate, failing to recognize that this is a disease and thus failing to visit a specialist. I have seen several cases like these in my practice. One of the most notable cases affected a girl who yelled loudly during disease onsets. Often this happened at school; since she felt the onset approaching, she ran out of the classroom and headed to toilet where she locked herself in while the onset passed. The girl was seen as mentally ill, she was sent to psychiatrists. When the girl was tested with electroencephalography, a pathological nidus was found in her brain and anti-epilepsy medication was prescribed. The disease onsets disappeared, and the child now is joyful, dances in a collective and feels completely healthy.

Another example is a young man who could suddenly become aggressive – he attached other people and broke windows of a house. He was very ashamed of this and used medicines which allowed to limit his onsets.

Rather often short-term loss of consciousness is mixed with fainting.

Many mothers argue that their adolescent children simply have fainted. While we are on the subject of adolescents, they often suffer from epilepsy caused by photosensitive flickering of light. Loss of consciousness can be caused by monotonous flickering of light, just like in discos, when road poles quickly run in front of our eyes while driving in a car, flickering of electrical bulbs in superstores.

First onset of epilepsy in adult age is a serious signal about brain disease. This can be the sole symptom of a brain tumor or brain vascular knot.

Epilepsy can also be suffered as a complication after head trauma, stroke, acute poisoning, alcohol consumption for several days.

When a person suffers any onset with or without loss of consciousness, with our without seizures, sudden inadequate behavior, perception or thinking disorders, it is necessary to properly diagnose and treat the issue.

Epilepsy diagnostics is basically a nuclear magnetic resonance test allowing to explore changes in your brain; and electroencephalography – nidus determination and localization, In the most complex cases, electroencephalography with long-term video surveillance is employed. If the issue is diagnosed, treatment is required with modern medicines and rational combination thereof. One must remember that the use of medicines causes significantly less side-effect than the disease onsets without medicines.

Medicines are most often neglected by pregnant women who suffer from epilepsy.

That should not be like this. Properly prescribed anti-epilepsy medicines preventing disease onsets can be more beneficial to the child than disease onsets during the pregnancy which might subject the child to oxygen-starvation and cause possible traumas.

If you or anyone in your family suffers from epilepsy or mysterious onsets, go to a neurologist and describe the symptoms in detail; you will receive a referral to an MRI test and EEG which will help to clarify what is going on.

There are many medicines available to fight epilepsy; these medicines are also included in the list of reimbursable medicines.

Treat yourself and be healthy!

Neurologist, Ilona Puriņa, MD