Epilepsy can be termed as a chronic disorder of the brain which is characterized by recurrent fits and seizures, said neurologist Dr Prasenjt Deka.
"But in reality, epilepsy is more than just a seizure. At the current time, there are over 3 lakh epileptic patients in Assam," Dr Deka said.
Addressing a press conference in Guwahati on Tuesday on the occasion of World Epilepsy Day, Dr Deka, a Senior Consultant of the neurology department at GNRC Hospital said that there may be various reasons for epilepsy.
"At the time, when the child is born, the gynecologist (under certain circumstances) has to do a forceps assisted delivery. In such cases, the baby tends to get hurt on his head. As a result of that cell in the area where the forceps are placed, dies due to lack of oxygen. Then the seizures start from that area," he said.
In the case of newborn babies, epileptic seizures are very common as they sometimes suffer from hypoglycemia as the mother is not given to eat anything 3 to 4 hours prior to the delivery.
The mother's glucose drops and it eventually affects the glucose levels in the baby. Post-delivery, vaccination plays a very important in protecting the child from various diseases and maintaining his immunity.
In some cases, head injuries, intake of any kind of drug, a stroke or the presence of a tumor in the brain can also be a cause of epilepsy. If someone has heart disease, they might show indirect symptoms, which are termed Symptomatic Epilepsy. Such type of epilepsy can start from any location of the brain. There are 42 different kinds of symptoms of epilepsy.
The treatment depends on the diagnosis, which depends on the symptoms.
If a person shows the most common symptoms of epilepsy fainting, rhythmic muscle contractions, seizures, anxiety, staring spells, amnesia, it is known as generalized epilepsy. If a person suffers a sudden epileptic attack, he should be isolated from the public and allowed to breathe some fresh air. Then they should be asked to lie on either side other than lying done straight on their back.
It was since January 2018 that the GNRC hospital has been offering treatment to epileptic patients at their GNRC Comprehensive Epileptic Care Unit and have successfully treated over 6671 patients till date.
If possible, a CT scan should be done immediately to investigate what is going in the brain cells. An ECG and some basic blood (including blood sugar, calcium, iron) will be helpful in reaching a better conclusion. After the patient is stable, he or she can go for an MRI to get a detailed 3-dimensional picture. An EEG can be done to trace the waves of the brain.
Speaking about the treatments, Dr Deka said that there are various types of treatments.
"The first stage is one, in which the dietitian is involved who suggests to the patient what to eat and might also offer them a ketogenic diet. Then comes the phase of medical management, where medicines are involved. It medicines fail to work, then the option of surgery is taken us," he said.
Neuro-psychologist, Lovely Choudhury said neuro-psychology and epilepsy are deeply interconnected.
"In most cases of epilepsy, the patient goes through a cognitive decline (or loss of memory). So it becomes very necessary to carry out a memory evaluation," she said.
"Epilepsy is a brain disorder. When a person is first detected with epilepsy, all the 5 departments come into force. These 5 departments are namely- clinical history, EEG, MRI, neuro-psychology and finally the neuro-surgeon. In the entire procedure, the role of a neuropsychologist is to localize and literalize the seizures.
"The verbal memory resides in the left side of our brain and the non-verbal memory lies in the right side. Counseling plays a major role in recovery," Choudhury added.
In the case of children, an IQ assessment is done. IQ includes the assessment of verbal IQ and performance IQ. The normal IQ range is from 90 to 110 but if someone's IQ is less than 70, he or she is unfit for surgery.
Data reveals that over 50 million people across the globe, suffer from epilepsy every year.
The GNRC hospital has been offering treatment to epileptic patients at the Comprehensive Epileptic Care Unit of the hospital and has successfully treated over 6671 patients till date.