Memory loss, lack of concentration, sleeping and waking late are not to be taken lightly as they could be the symptoms of epilepsy.
Epilepsy is not only characterized by full body seizures, but it also exhibits other symptoms, such as syncope (temporary loss of consciousness), dizziness and memory loss. Other symptoms might include periodic loss of concentration, teeth grinding or an inability to speak.
Epilepsy symptoms greatly vary based primarily on the nature and severity of electrical abnormality occurring in the certain part of the brain. Since this abnormal sign occurs in the brain, it can be silent and hard to notice any changes. Therefore, people often do not know that they have developed epilepsy. Especially when these symptoms occur intermittently, they are often unnoticed and undiagnosed. In older patients, family members may often mistake this abnormality for natural symptoms of aging.
Neurologists explain that whilst epilepsy may occur in men and woman of all ages, it is more prevalent in people with preexisting conditions, such as diabetes, kidney or liver disease. It can also be found in children, which may be the result of congenital damage to the brain that occurred since birth and/or brain cell abnormality. Parents should observe their children closely if there are suspected abnormalities or seizures. Even if a seizure has only occurred once, it is highly recommended to seek medical treatment promptly as a seizure can cause brain cells to die.
Many patients are not aware that they have already experienced seizures since seizures might not always result in collapse and prolonged loss of consciousness. It may manifest as ‘absence’, for example, abruptly going quiet during a conversation, a temporary loss of consciousness where one temporarily goes blank.
At Bangkok International Hospital, epilepsy can be effectively detected by using advanced diagnostic technology e.g. electroencephalography (EEG) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
Electroencephalography (EEG) records electrical activity of brain cells. The results of the test appear on line graph on a monitor. This non-invasive test is simple, safe and effective. It is commonly used to diagnose patients who are suspected of having epilepsy as it can verify whether symptoms are indeed that of the condition. It can also be effective in identifying the type of epilepsy which affects treatment plan and given medications.
Bangkok International Hospital has also introduced the Web Based EEG Monitor which allows close observation of epilepsy patients in an ICU environment. Doctors are able to access patient information 24/7 without the limitations of distance, resulting in improved treatment effectiveness while enhancing patient’s safety.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging is also used for diagnosis of epilepsy. Magnetic field and radio waves create pictures displayable on a monitor of tissues, organs and other structures within the body. Some people develop epilepsy due to the result of scar tissue in the brain after brain injury. The procedure takes approximately 1-2 hours.
Specialists suggest that the best possible way to deal with epilepsy is an early detection and timely treatment. This significantly helps prevent further brain deterioration and serious complications as well as improve patient’s quality of life. If patients do not respond to medications, surgical treatment may be an option. However, most patients only require medications to prevent seizures and restore electrical function in the brain. Patients are also encouraged to be proactive in taking care of themselves. They are advised to avoid trigger factors, including sleep deprivation, eating unhealthy diets, over exertion during exercise, alcohol consumption and excessive stress.
Epilepsy is a condition that should not be ignored. People who experience warning symptoms should receive prompt diagnosis before their condition worsens.
Dr. Yothin Chinvarun, Memory and Epilepsy Specialist
Neuroscience Center, Bangkok International Hospital
Bangkok International Hospital
Tel: 0 2310 3000 or 1719 (local calls only)