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What is epilepsy? The chronic disorder is defined as an unprovoked seizure, which is conducive to many types of seizures. The reasons are unknown as these seizures are not provoked. It happens when there is a disorder where cell activity in the brain that causes seizures. This chronic condition is recurrent and can affect any parts of the body and many suffer from other neurological issues as well. This illness can wreck havoc on a plethora things and relationships, as it can strike at any moment. The Epilepsy Foundation explained the terms of “a seizure is a disruption of the electrical communication between neurons.” There are five million people all over the world who have epilepsy. In America, there is an estimated three million who suffer from the condition according of the Epilepsy Foundation. And one in 26 people in the U.S. will experience epilepsy during their lives.

What is staggering is the Foundation found that six out of 10 people in the U.S. will end up experiencing this illness in their lives. Furthermore, about one-third of suffers will live with seizures since they do not know the cause and it can’t be effectively treated. Having seizures and epilepsy can affect a person’s life, and can hurt relationships, the ability to work, and the ability to drive. Additionally, people need to watch being around large bodies of water, or use caution when they are using a hot iron, or when cooking as seizures are unpredictable. Epilepsy Foundation, which works to educate the public about the misconceptions and facts regarding the condition shared that “public perception and treatment of people with epilepsy are often bigger problems than actual seizures.” Epilepsy can be treated, but not cured. Split-brain surgery can be done if drug therapy is not working. This is when the surgeon cuts the corpus callosum to stop the spread of the seizure from hemisphere to hemisphere, as the brain is divided into two halves.

The causes of epilepsy could be from a brain injury or from an accident or a stroke. It can be a result of a genetic disorder. The Mayo Clinic explained that the cause could also be from infectious diseases like AIDS and meningitis. There could have been prenatal injury where a baby suffered brain damage or suffered an “infection in the mother, poor nutrition or oxygen deficiencies. This brain damage can result in epilepsy or cerebral palsy.” Additionally, developmental disorders could also be a culprit for the reason for child experiencing epilepsy and seizures. The risk is also higher in children who have high fevers and many times epilepsy can closely associated with developmental disorders, such as autism and neurofibromatosis, the site shared.

When a person experiences a seizure they lose consciousness, exhibit abnormal behavior. Seizures affect people in different ways and will have a beginning, middle and end. It can start with the aura where people experience seeing strange lights, hearing strange things, and smelling odors or have confusing thoughts. The middle is called the phase that in related to the electrical seizure activity in the brain. Finally, the postictal phase happens. This is the recovery period that can last for hours and minutes in some people. There are also six generalized seizures. There is the absence seizure where one will just stare into space, or there is lip smacking. This may happen in clusters and cause a loss if awareness. Tonic seizures are when the muscles stiffen in the back, neck, arms, and legs. Drop seizures or atonic seizures cause a loss of muscle control. Clonic seizures are associated with repeated or rhythmic, jerking muscle movements. The neck, arms, legs, and face are affected. Myoclonic seizures are sudden brief jerks or twitches of the arms and legs.

Outside of drug therapy and medication, people can change their lifestyle to cope to control the condition. Make sure you are getting adequate sleep as this can set seizures off. Smoking and drinking alcohol should be avoided. Wearing a medical alert bracelet will help medical professionals informed if you are being treated. Learn relaxation methods like deep breathing, yoga, cognitive therapy and the use of meditation techniques could help with stress. Avoid flashing lights like strobe lights, the New York Times suggested in a study. Researchers found that people who watched cartoons reported having seizures in Japan due to the rapidly fluctuating colors and quick flashes. However, “screens that emit a lower hertz (such as 50 Hz) are more likely to cause seizures in people with epilepsy than a higher-hertz screen (such as 100 Hz or higher).”

Here are other notable facts the Epilepsy Foundation wants people to know about. You can’t swallow your tongue, this is false. Never restrain someone from having a seizure, you need to roll the person to the side and follow first aid. The condition is not contagious, and is not rare. There are as many people with the disorder as with other conditions such as Alzheimer's, cystic fibrosis, multiple sclerosis, and cerebral palsy. Furthermore, people with epilepsy can live a normal life and they can handle responsibility of work. They can work most jobs in business and other professions. Only jobs that would physically put one at risk are something that they should avoid because of safety concerns. People are limited physically after a seizure. They could have issues moving and feeling like themselves.

English neurologist Dr. John Hughlings Jackson discovered epilepsy during the 1930s, when he found an unusual electrical pattern in the brain during a seizure when he invented the electroencephalogram, which tracks brain wave patterns. Science has come a long way to help people who are suffering from epilepsy with surgery and medication. Yet, it is important to pay attention to lifestyle, and find ways to cope with the stress that may trigger an attack. By eating right, drinking enough water, exercising, getting enough sleep, stopping the smoking and being educated on safety can help one still live a productive life, regardless of the condition.

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