What is Epilepsy?
Epilepsy is one of the most common nervous system disorders, impacting one in 100 people in the United States. It affects individuals of all ages, races and ethnicities and has a wide range of severity.
The brain is a very fragile organ that depends on the rest of the body for protection, oxygen, sugar and normal temperature. Many acute health conditions may cause seizures because the illnesses limit the body’s ability to provide the brain with what it needs to function normally. Seizures that occur in this way during a temporary health condition are not considered epilepsy. This is because the brain will hopefully return to normal, seizure-free function once the patient has recovered.
Epilepsy is a chronic condition in which an abnormality in the brain causes recurrent seizures. A cluster of abnormal nerve cells no larger than a dime may cause epileptic seizures. These cells will occasionally react, sending signals to surrounding cells, causing them to join the reaction. This spreading reaction within the brain is what defines an epileptic seizure.
The most common treatment for epileptic seizures is medication, but brain surgery, laser treatments or implantable stimulators may offer a cure in cases of severe epilepsy. The first step in finding the cure for an individual’s epilepsy is determining the type of seizure. A neurologist usually makes the initial diagnosis with video EEG. An epileptologist also has the training and experience to offer the full range of epilepsy treatments, each targeted for specific types of epilepsy.
The new Epilepsy Monitoring Unit at Fort Sanders Regional offers specialized video EEG monitoring to confirm which area of the brain is having seizures. With this additional knowledge, the doctor can choose a more effective and more tolerable epilepsy medication.
If your epilepsy is not under control, ask your neurologist about a referral to the Fort Sanders Regional Epilepsy Monitoring Unit.