What is Epilepsy?
The term ‘epilepsy’ comes from a Greek word meaning ‘to take hold of‘ hence the use of term ‘seizure‘ to describe its effects. Epilepsy may also be looked upon as a tendency to have repeated seizures. The seizures are an outward, visible sign that a part of the brain is not working as it should. Its activity of transmitting and receiving electrical and chemical messages becomes disrupted.
The neurons (nerve cells) that carry messages around to different parts of the brain send them in a different order, or too strongly (excessive discharge). This results in the patient having a seizure. The way in which a seizure affects or feels, depends upon where in the brain the problem is and how far the disruption spreads. A seizure can start by affecting one part of the brain and then spreading to another part or can even go on to affect the whole brain. This is why people can experience different types of seizure, lasting from a few seconds to several minutes.
Having epilepsy does not mean you are mentally ill or automatically have difficulties in learning, or have to take medicines for the rest of your life. Nor does it mean that if epilepsy happens in childhood it will stay with the child into adulthood. A substantial number of children grow out of their seizures as they enter adulthood; others may not encounter epilepsy until adolescence. Having epilepsy does not necessarily mean the child cannot live the way his or her friends live, or share in the same activities. Support arrangements may be needed in order for this to happen.
While living with epilepsy is not easy, the affected children and their parents should be actively encouraged to develop a positive attitude to the condition— looking at what it enables them to participate in and taking control of it, rather than viewing it as an illness or disabling condition that will blight the rest of their lives.
Parents often ask why their child has epilepsy and seem surprised when the doctor cannot given them a definite answer. This is because despite having carried out a range of diagnostic tests, which may include blood tests and brain scans of various kinds, taken a careful case history and looked at the electrical activity in the child’s brain with an EEG (electroencephalogram), doctors are unable to find the cause in upto 75% of patients. Children with this type of epilepsy are often described as having idiopathic epilepsy, where the cause is not known.
Causes of Epilepsy
- An infection in the brain, e.g. meningitis or encephalitis or abscess.
- Head injury
- Part of a metabolic disorder – including uremia, hyponatremia and other deficiency state.
- The way the child’s brain developed before birth
- Recreational drugs or alcohol – such as cocaine, amphetamines, and alcohol withdrawal.
- Brain tumors
- Part of an inherited condition, e.g. tuberous sclerosis, Rett’s syndrome, Angelman syndrome, Sturge-Weber syndrome, Fragile X syndrome, neurofibromatosis and Down’s syndrome.
- Subacute conditions – such as Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease and sub acute sclerosing panencephalitis
- Toxins, such as lead poisoning (especially in children) and mercury poisoning in adults
- Conditions causing syncope – including vasovagal episodes, postural hypotension, and arrhythmia
- Asphyxia – from hypoxia, carbon monoxide poisoning, or birth injury
- Idiopathic seizures – in which no clear etiology is found
At least 10% of children have a positive family history of seizure occurring with fever under the age of 5 years (febrile convulsion). However, the presence of such seizures (or convulsions) does not mean the child will necessarily go on to develop full- blown epilepsy.
Symptoms of Epilepsy
- Convulsion without fever
- Intermittent fainting spells
- Loss of bladder and bowel control during fainting spells
- Extreme weakness and fatigue after attack
- Sudden stiffness
- Confusion of memory
- Sudden bouts of blinking and chewing without any obvious cause or stimuli
- Changes in sense of smell, touch and sound
- Jerking of body, arms and legs.
Generalized seizures type
- Tonic-clonic seizure – complete loss of consciousness, falling, jerking movements, urine incontinence.
- Absence seizure – brief loss of consciousness.
- Myoclonic seizure – brief jerking movements.
Partial seizure types
- Simple partial seizure – stays conscious, and weakness, numbness, unusual smells or testes, muscle twitching, turning head to side, visual changes, or vertigo may occur.
- Complex partial seizure – altered consciousness, automatic repetitive behavior, uncontrolled laughing, unusual thoughts, hallucinations, fears, or smells odd odors.
Diagnosis of Epilepsy
Clinically, the diagnosis of epilepsy is based on the occurrence of one or more epilepsy attack and proof or more seizures and proof or the assumption that the condition that led to them is still present.
Diagnosis information is obtained from the patient’s history and description of seizure activity, physical and neurological examination, and CT scan or magnetic resonance imaging. These scans offer density readings of the brain and may indicate abnormalities and the EEG confirms the diagnosis by providing evidence of the continuing tendency to have seizures. A negative EEG doesn’t rule out seizure disorder because the paroxysmal abnormalities occur intermittently. Other tests may include serum glucose and calcium studies, skull X-rays, lumber puncture, brain scan, and cerebral angiography.
Age of onset –
(A) infancy – metabolic disturbances associated with febrile illness, epilepsy, congenital diplegia, congenital hemiplagia and cerebral damage resulting from birth injury.
(B) Childhood – any of the congenital or acquired lesions above mentioned. Idiopathic epilepsy, encephalitis.
(C) Adult life – idiopathic epilepsy rarely begins after age of 25. Penetrating head injury involving meninges, intracranial tumor, cysticercosis.
(D) After 50 – epilepsy most often due to cerebral arteriosclerosis. Other causes such as Stokes-Adams attacks, and spontaneous hypoglycemia.
Description of fit from witness or family
Circumstances under which fit occurs
Family history – fits which cause sudden loss of conscious with falling, followed by some confusion should be classified as grand mal
History of febrile convulsions in children
- Presence of neurological signs (e.g. dysphasia, hemiparesis, field defect, may localize a structural lesion.
- Learning disability may suggest a chromosomal disorder.
- Progressive features (e.g. dementia, ataxia) suggest a neurodegenerative disease
- A cardiovascular examination is essential. The pupils may dilate during seizure.
Investigations for Epilepsy
Confirming the diagnosis
- EEG – is of value in establishing the diagnosis of epilepsy and an aid in determining the type of seizure.
- EEG telemetry – in the form of ambulatory recording or video telemetry may be necessary if diagnosis is in doubt despite apparently frequent seizure.
- Further investigations – may be necessary. Hypoglycemia needs to be ruled out, particularly in patient’s with early morning seizures.
- Investigating the cause – MRI provides reliable diagnosis of hippocampal sclerosis, cortical dysgenesis and small foreign tissue lesions.
Epilepsy treatment entirely depends upon cause and medical condition.
Epilepsy treatment with homeopathy
Homeopathy is one of the most popular holistic systems of medicine. The selection of remedy is based upon the theory of individualization and symptoms similarity by using holistic approach.
This is the only way through which a state of complete health can be regained by removing all the sign and symptoms from which the patient is suffering. The aim of homeopathy is not only to treat epilepsy but to address its underlying cause and individual susceptibility. As far as therapeutic medication is concerned, several medicines are available for epilepsy treatment that can be selected on the basis of cause, sensation and modalities of the complaints. For individualized remedy selection and treatment, the patient should consult a qualified homeopathic doctor in person. Some important remedies are given below for epilepsy treatment:
Causticum – epilepsy at the age of puberty due to menstrual irregularity or suppression of eruptions or to some fright, worse during new moon; Involuntary urination; Better by drinking cold water. Hystero epilepsy; Extra ordinary mental or physical vigor, headache especially through temples, with vertigo, redness of conjunctiva; convulsions with screams.
Passiflora inc – excellent remedy for epilepsy treatment, attacks coming on the menstrual period. The aura is a tight feeling in the chest.
Plumbum met – epilepsy due to cerebral sclerosis or tumors; Heaviness and paralytic sensation before the attack and there is often paralysis and prolonged snoring thereafter. Constipation severe.
Belladonna – in recent cases of epilepsy only; the convulsions begin in the upper extremities and extend to the face, eyes and mouth; fits of short duration several times during the day and passing off suddenly.
Argentum nitricum – epilepsy caused by fright or at the time of menses. Dilatation of pupils for days or hours before the attack and restlessness and trembling of hands after the attack. Sharp cry. Violent muscular twitching, especially of the throat; complete unconsciousness with frothing at mouth; often bites her tongue, then a deep sleep for about three hours. Fit comes by taking sweet fruits. Epilepsy in persons suffering from indigestion, loud belching during the attack or before it; the patient is withered and dried in constitution.
Cuprum met – the aura begins in the lower extremities and ascends to the hypogastric region when unconsciousness, convulsions and foaming of the mouth supervene. The patient continuously protrudes and retracts tongue during the attack. Worse in warm room; Oppressive headache preceding the attack. Nocturnal epilepsy, or when the fits return at regular intervals, beginning with sudden scrams, loss of sensibility and throwing the body upward and forward, convulsions commencing at the fingers or toes or in the arms, with coldness of the hands and feet, and pallor or lividity of face. Convulsions in children during dentition.
Natrum mur – twitching of arms and legs before and during the attack; aversion to bread. Dullness, difficulty of thinking, depression and irritability; Aura begins in the arms or may be as if mouse ran up the leg to right side of abdomen. Attacks preceded by vertigo, sleep, gritting of teeth, nausea and vomiting, froth at mouth. Trembling; Body jerks, legs rapidly drawn up, hands clinched, thumbs not drawn in. chronic cases of psoric taint, suppressed itch.
Natrum sulph – epilepsy from concussions of brain, after injuries on head, great irritability and disgust of life, great exhaustion and prostration.
Melilotus – epilepsy from the blow on head.
Helleborus – epilepsy in infants; during the paroxysm , the child remains sensible and the paroxysm may occur several times during the same day and after the attack, the child goes to sleep; bad effects from earlier head injuries.
Nux vom – remarkable remedy for epilepsy treatment, convulsions of epilepsy with consciousness, worse with anger, touch, emotion, moving, indigestion. Convulsions with titanic rigidity, opisthotonos, red face and closed eyes. Involuntary defecation and urination in fit; Aura from epigastrium; Deep sleep follows the attack. Worse in open air
Bufo – in cases of epilepsy when due to masturbation or sexual excesses; The fit may return during coition. An awful sensation of anxiety in the abdomen and then there is sudden loss of consciousness. Pupils largely dilated and unaffected by light before the attack. Aura starts from sexual organs or abdomen or from solar plexus. Mouth wide open before an attack and dropping g of the jaw after the attack; Urine passes involuntarily after the attack or epilepsy occurs during sleep. Epilepsy from excessive masturbation, longs for solitude to give himself up to his vice, epileptic aura from uterus to stomach in females, menses suppressed, or fits worse at times of menses; severe cases, head down to one side, then backward before the fit, with numbness of brain, falls down unconscious, followed by severe clonic and tonic spasm.
Kali brom – when the fit comes at the new moon and headache follows the fit. Mental dullness, slowness of expression, vertigo, uncertain gait, morose and sleepy;
Baryta mur – epilepsy with distension of blood vessels, emaciation, fainting spells. Complaints worse in spring; Formication all over the body;
Borax – a valuable remedy in epilepsy of children; whether recurrent or old, children is afraid of downward motion so much so that the child cries when an attempt is made to put him down on the bed and is very sensitive to noises.
Alumina – the fits come on mostly while passing stools.
Ignatia – epileptic fits which occur after mortification or great fright from anger with silent grief; from anxiety; unhappy love. Recent cases of epilepsy, epilepsy due to excess of emotions; partial spasms of the extremities, silent stupid state with jerking of the body, lassitude after a fit, convulsions return at the same hour in day time or at night.
Thuja – epileptic fits occurring after vaccination, when pustules disappear which had appeared, as a result of vaccination. Ears feel numbed before attack.
Silicea – epilepsy in slender, tall, dark, chilly, arrogant, thirst less persons, constipated with clammy, sweaty palms, and unhealthy skin. Nightly attacks occurring about new and full moon; fits during sleep; nervous irritability; ill effects of vaccination; sensation of coldness before an attack, indicated in children with a large head and large abdomen.
Viscum album – for epilepsy when vertigo persists after the attack.
Absinthiam – suited well when the fit is preceded by trembling, vertigo and giddiness, loss of memory after the attack.
Calcarea carb – it is a very good remedy for epilepsy treatment, epilepsy in children with open fontanelles and late dentition; sweating of the head and neck; Dread of an attack and broods over his affliction which makes him melancholic; convulsions due to suppression of eruptions, orgasm or sexual excess; Sensation of something burning in arms, or from pit of stomach downwards; sudden attack of vertigo, loss of consciousness without convulsions; chewing motion of mouth before the attacks
Cicuta virosa – sudden rigidity followed by jerks and violent distortions, oppression of breathing, lock jaw, face dark red, frothing at the mouth with opisthotonos. Concussions of brain, congestion at the base of the brain and in the medulla oblongata,. Excessively violent convulsions, tonic and clonic, and continuous distortions of extremities, after the attack profound exhaustion.
Opium – convulsions in night, especially in those persons who are constipated much drowsiness after an attack.
Hyoscyamus – twitching and jerking with frothing at the mouth and biting of the tongue. Hunger previous to the attacks
Nitric acid – epileptic fits after midnight; biting tongue, snoring during sleep, aura begins in left arm, excessive irritability with debility.
Agaricus muscaris – in epilepsy when after the attack there is great flow of ideas and the patient talks too much. Fit of epilepsy every seven days.
Glonine – most violent, pulsating and pressing headache before the attack; It is worse in warm room and by warm application.