More often than not, epilepsy usually goes hand-in-hand with seizures. But the connection between seizures and epilepsy isn’t as clear-cut as people usually make it. Most times, seizures don’t translate to an exact case of epilepsy, which then goes to mean that seizures can be a manifestation as a result of some other underlying condition. It takes a healthcare specialist to actually confirm that a particular individual has epilepsy specifically due to the exact type of seizures one has over a given period of time.
Epilepsy is not a disease, exactly. It is a condition whereby a group of related disorders is characterized by the onset of recurrent seizures. Seizures, on the other hand, are abnormal patterns of behavior that take root as a result of strange or unusual brain activity. A good portion of the global population has epilepsy. Statistics actually highlights that an estimate of 1 in 26 people will develop epilepsy in their lifetime.
Seizures and epilepsy
Seizures are normal symptoms of epilepsy. The exception is that not all seizures signal a condition of epilepsy. What that means is that there are different types of seizures beyond the sphere of epilepsy; the kind that are referred to as non-epileptic seizures. These non-epileptic seizures or pseudo-seizures then signal other underlying conditions like a psychological disorder or may even be an indicator that an individual has stress. Even so, pseudo-seizures may manifest themselves in a way that is difficult to diagnose and even differentiate them from epileptic seizures. However, it is worth noting that normal epileptic medication fails against pseudo-seizures, and that can be a clue of their presence. The main takeaway here is that not all seizures signal the presence of epilepsy.
Diagnosing and categorizing epilepsy
Epilepsy is not just one condition. Rather, it is a group of specific disorders in the body that are collectively known as epilepsy. That means there are classes of epilepsy, each with their own unique type of diagnosis as well as medication. Basically, diagnosing epilepsy is done by carefully analyzing the type of seizures a particular individual may have. With that objective in mind, your doctor will work to find out the type of epileptic seizures you had, which will inevitably lead to a specific type of epilepsy.
To achieve this, various questions are raised, and tests are conducted either using an electroencephalogram (EEG) or an MRI to check normal brain function. Bringing someone who was present in the attack also helps a great deal, which also means you can present video evidence of the attack to help your doctor narrow down his search.
Once all the tests are done, and your health specialist has established whether you have a particular epilepsy syndrome or not, the verdict is one of the four types of epilepsies:
- Focal epilepsy
- Generalized and focal epilepsy
- Generalized epilepsy
- Unknown if generalized or focal epilepsy
After the diagnosis of the type of epilepsy you have, your doctor will advise and direct you on the best type of treatment. Epileptic treatment varies, and some of those treatments naturally work better than others depending on the type you have. For instance, broad-spectrum treatment and medication usually work better for those with generalized epilepsy. On the other hand, the hard-to-treat kind, like focal epilepsy, which doesn’t work with medication, options like surgery, usually work well.