Epilepsy and Pregnancy Faq

What is epilepsy ?
 
Epilepsy is a disorder of the brain & Central Nervous System. In people with epilepsy, brain cell create abnormal electricity that causes seizures. A seizure may cause ďjerkingĒ movements. In some cases, seizures cause only a loss of consciousness, a period of confusion, a staring spell or muscle spasms. A single seizure is not considered epilepsy. People with epilepsy have repeated episodes of seizures.
 
What causes epilepsy ?
 
There is a fine balance in the brain between factors that begin electrical activity and factors that restrict it, and there are also systems that limit the spread of electrical activity. During a seizure, these limits break down, and abnormal electrical discharges can occur and spread to whole groups of neighboring cells at once. This linkage of electrical discharges creates a ďstormĒ of electrical activity in the brain. This is called epileptic seizure. When a person has had at least two of these seizures, thatís called epilepsy.
 
I don't lose consciousness, but i do have other attacks could it be epilepsy ?
 
Yes, Some seizures are hardly noticed perhaps only a felling of ďpins and needlesĒ in one thumb for a few seconds. During other seizures, the person may become unconscious, fall to the floor and jerk violently for several minutes. Between these extremes is an astonishing range of feelings and actions.
 
Many people (including some people with seizures) think that the only real seizures are ones with strong, uncontrolled movements. They think that having a strange felling in the stomach , blanking out for a few seconds , or jerking one arm a few times is nothing important, at most a minor ďspellĒ. But in fact, any change in feeling or behavior that results from an uncontrolled discharge of electricity in the brain is a seizure.
 
Do seizures cause brain damage ?
 
In a Tonic Ė Clonic seizure, the person loses consciousness, the body stiffens & then they fall to the ground. This is followed by jerking movements. After a minute or two, the jerking movements usually stops & consciousness slowly returns. Tonic- Clonic seizures lasting less than 5-10 minutes are not known to cause brain damage or injury. However, there is evidence that more frequent and more prolonged tonic-colonic seizures may in some patients injure the brain. Prolonged or repetitive complex partial seizures (a type of seizure that occurs in clusters without an intervening return of consciousness) also can potentially cause long- lasting impairment of brain function.
 
Some people have difficulty with memory and other intellectual functions after a seizure. These problems may be caused by the aftereffects of the seizure on the brain , by the effects of seizure medicines, or both. Usually, however, these problems do not mean that the brain has been damaged by the seizure. There may be a cumulative, negative effect of many tonic-clonic or complex partial seizures on brain function, but this effect appears to be rare.
 
What should be done when someone has a seizure ?
 
If someone near you has a seizure, use the following general guidelines :

  • Stay calm
  • Donít try keep the person from moving
  • Take away items that could cause injury if the person falls or bumps into them
  • Donít move the person to another place
  • Gently turn the person on his or her side so any fluid in the mouth can safely come out. Never try to force the personís mouth   open or put anything it.
  • It may help you to know that most seizures arenít life-threatening. You donít need to call a doctor or an ambulance unless the   person isnít known to have epilepsy or unless the seizure lasts longer than 10 to 15 minutes.
  • When the seizure is over, watch the person for signs of confusion. Allow the person to rest or sleep if he or she wishes.

What factor make it more likely that seizures will recur after treatment has been stopped ?
 
If someone near you has a seizure, use the following general guidelines:

  • Age greater than 16 years at the onset of seizures
  • H/Q seizures after treatment started
  • Tonic-clonic seizures
  • Myoclonic sizures
  • An abnormal EEG, But only in children. Particularly the presence of spike and wave discharges

Note : Decision to start treatment after a single seizure and to stop treatment in partnership with the patient. situations in which a decision whether to continue treatment needs to be carefully considered are occupations where another seizure may be hazardous, such as driving, and proposed pregnancy when the future mother may wish to discontinue treatment.
 
Is epilepsy inherited ?
 
Most cases of epilepsy are not inherited, although some types are genetically transmitted (That is, passed on though the family). Most of these types are easily controlled with seizure medicines.
 
Is epilepsy a curse ?
 
Epilepsy has nothing to do with curses, possession, or other supernatural processes, such as punishment for past sins, Epilepsy is not a mental illness, and it is not a sign of low intelligence. It is also not contagious. Between seizures, a person with epilepsy is no different from anyone else. Like asthma, diabetes, and high blood pressure, epilepsy is a medical problem.
 
Should epilepsy be a barrier success ?
 
Epilepsy is perfectly compatible with a normal, happy, and full life. The personís quality of life, however, may be affected by the frequency and severity of the seizures, the effects of medications, reactions of onlookers to seizures, and other disorders that are often associated with or caused by epilepsy. However with proper treatment and care, the patientís quality of life cab be improved.
 
If I have epilepsy, do I have to take medicines everyday ?
 
Yes. You must take you medicine every day, even when you arenít having seizures or when you think you wonít have a seizure till the time your physician asks to change or stop. To prevent seizures, you have to take the medicine regularly, just as your doctor tells you.
 
What should I do if I forget to take my medicine ?
 
Usually you should take your medicine as soon as you know you forgot a dose. If more than 24 hours have passed since your last dose, ask your doctor what to do.
 
Should I take extra medicine if I think Iím about to have a seizure ?
 
No. The amount of medicine you take is carefully set for your own needs. No extra medicine should be taken without your doctorís approval.
 
Will I have to take the medicine forever ?
 
It may be possible for some people with epilepsy to stop taking medicine. However, this decision must be made by your doctor. Before you and your doctor can decide to stop the medicine, several questions should be considered. These include how quickly your seizures were controlled, how long you have been free of seizures, and if you have other illnesses that may affect your problem.
 
Can I take other drugs while taking anti-epilepsy drugs ?
 
Because many drugs affect the ability of your epilepsy medicine to control your seizures, ask your doctor of pharmacist before taking other drugs, even drugs you can buy without a prescription.
 
Can I drive if my seizures are under control ?
 
Ask your doctor if you are fit enough to drive. If so, make sure to have regular check-ups with your doctor and report any change in health to be sure that your driving license remains valid.
 
Safety precautions when driving are the same for you as for everyone :

  • Donít drink and drive
  • Donít drive if you are tired
  • Avoid driving long distance
  • Avoid driving at night
  • Have a companion with you while driving

If you donít want to drive, if you have forgotten your anti-epileptic medication or if you think a seizure might occur, leave the driving to someone else.
 
Lastly, if you are in the slightest doubt about driving, ask advice from your doctor.
 
Can I get employment of my choice with epilepsy ?
 
Like everyone else, look for employment that corresponds to your professional qualifications as well as your aptitudes and preferences. Take professional help to decide on a job that suits your condition.
 
But there are other riskYou can work with computers if the conditions are well managed.

  • Computer screens are better at avoiding glare and reflections that may trigger a seizure.
  • Look at the possibility of fitting a filter to further reduce irritating reflections.

Can I go for a holiday?
 
Travel is much easier if your epilepsy is well controlled! Means of transport (Plane , Train or car) are not factors that aggravate epilepsy buy may cause stress and or lack of sleep that could trigger a seizure.