Epilepsy is a neurological disorder that causes a variety of symptoms that involve brain activity. According to the Epilepsy Foundation, there are 3.4 million people with active epilepsy in the United States, and 150,000 people are diagnosed each year. The condition can affect people of all ages, genders, and ethnicities, and 1 in 26 people will be diagnosed with epilepsy at some point in their lives. While epilepsy impacts thousands of people, it is still very possible for these individuals to live happy, safe and fulfilling lives with the right care and support.
What is Epilepsy?
Epilepsy affects the central nervous system, and it can cause symptoms like seizures, periods of abnormal behavior, or loss of awareness. There are a variety of symptoms associated with epilepsy, and both medication and surgery can be successful at treating the disease. Children who are diagnosed with epilepsy can outgrow the condition while others continue to live with the disease for the duration of their lives. People with epilepsy often suffer from seizures. Symptoms of seizures include:
- Moments of confusion
- Stiff muscles
- Uncontrolled jerking and moving of arms and legs
- Lost consciousness
- Staring blankly
- Psychological symptoms (fear, anxiety, etc)
What are the Risk Factors of Epilepsy?
Some factors may increase a person’s likelihood of developing epilepsy, but anyone can be diagnosed with this disease.
What are the Types of Epilepsy?
A person who suffers from epilepsy typically also suffers from seizures, since they frequently have abnormal brain activity. Seizures can be categorized into three types, depending on where the abnormal brain activity begins.
Focal Onset Seizures
A focal seizure occurs when abnormal brain activity occurs in just one area of a person’s brain. When this happens, an individual can suffer from two different types of focal seizures.
A generalized seizure occurs when both sides of the brain are affected. When this happens, a person can experience several different types of seizures. Some of the most commonly known generalized seizures include:
Unknown Onset Seizures
This type of seizure occurs when the beginning of a seizure isn’t known, or if nobody is around to witness the seizure when it happens. Once the individual is examined and more testing is done, a doctor may be able to determine whether the person suffered a focal or generalized seizure.
What are Other Health Conditions Associated with Epilepsy?
Epilepsy can lead to other health conditions that can negatively affect a person’s life. Additionally, a seizure can occur during a dangerous activity that can cause serious injury. Here are a few examples.
How Can a Family Caregiver Assist Someone with Epilepsy?
If you’re taking care of someone with epilepsy, it’s important to take care of yourself as well. Make sure you’re feeding your body whole foods and that you’re maintaining an active lifestyle. Caring for your own body will make caring for your loved one much easier.
To effectively care for someone with epilepsy, it’s important to inform yourself about the disease. Learn about seizure first aid, so you’re ready to help when it’s time, and help your loved one to stay on top of their medications and trips to the doctor. Keep an eye on any patterns your loved one may display directly before seizures so you can best be prepared when they exhibit those signs in the future.
Family Caregiver Program
Caring for someone with epilepsy can be time-consuming, and it’s important to avoid burnout. Barry Rosenburg founded PASCO’s Family Caregiver Program in 2001 to help caregivers like you. Our organization works to reimburse people for the time they spend taking care of loved ones with lifelong diseases like epilepsy.
If you’d like to learn more about caring for someone with epilepsy, or if you’d like to learn more about our program, contact us today.