What is Epilepsy?

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What is Epilepsy? Blog Image


National Epilepsy Day is celebrated every year in India on November 17 to raise awareness around the brain disorder and bust myths surrounding the disease.

About Epilepsy

  • It is a brain disease where nerve cells don’t signal properly, which causes seizures.
  • A seizure is usually defined as a sudden alteration of behavior due to a temporary change in the electrical functioning of the brain.
  • Normally, the brain continuously generates tiny electrical impulses in an orderly pattern. These impulses travel along neurons—the network of nerve cells in the brain—and throughout the whole body via chemical messengers called neurotransmitters.
  • In epilepsy, the brain's electrical rhythms have a tendency to become imbalanced, resulting in recurrent seizures.
  • In patients with seizures, the normal electrical pattern is disrupted by sudden and synchronized bursts of electrical energy that may briefly affect their consciousness, movements, or sensations.
  • Seizures can be classified into two broad categories, depending on the location of abnormal brain activity.
    • Seizure in one part of the brain is called focal seizure, and it is usually accompanied by loss of consciousness, while in cases of generalised seizures, all areas of the brain are involved.
  • It is a chronic, noncommunicable disease that affects people of all ages.
  • Epilepsy (sometimes referred to as a seizure disorder) can have many different causes and seizure types. 
  • Some people may have convulsions (muscles contract repeatedly) and lose consciousness. Others may simply stop what they are doing, have a brief lapse of awareness, and stare into space for a short period of time. 
  • Epilepsy may develop as a result of many types of conditions that disrupt normal brain activity, known as “co-occurring conditions”. Examples of conditions that can lead to epilepsy include:
    • Brain tumors
    • Head trauma
    • Alcoholism or alcohol withdrawal
    • Alzheimer's disease
    • Strokes, heart attacks, and other conditions that deprive the brain of oxygen
    • Abnormal blood vessel formation (called arteriovenous malformations) or bleeding in the brain
    • Brain inflammation or swelling
    • Infections such as meningitis, HIV-related infections, and viral encephalitis
  • Around 50 million people worldwide have epilepsy, making it one of the most common neurological diseases globally.
  • Nearly 80% of people with epilepsy live in low- and middle-income countries.
  • The risk of premature death in people with epilepsy is up to three times higher than for the general population.

Q1) What are neurons?

Neurons (also called neurons or nerve cells) are the fundamental units of the brain and nervous system, the cells responsible for receiving sensory input from the external world, for sending motor commands to our muscles, and for transforming and relaying the electrical signals at every step in between. 

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