Health

Seizures: What You Need To Know

Seizures - What You Need To Know

It’s true that the central nervous system (CNS) is the most complex part of the human body; hence we must take care of it as the whole body depends on its health. It consists of the brain and spinal cord, which utilizes 20% of the total oxygen we breathe in. It is referred to as the center of our system because this is where all of the signals are processed, and all information is merged before being executed as a body function. 

All functions of the CNS are essential. It involves not only the physical aspects but also the contemplative, emotional, as well as maintenance of homeostasis in the body. There are approximately 100 billion neurons connected in the CNS, which creates a network. This network of neurons is deemed healthy unless a disruption of brain signals happens. This event is called a seizure, and can cause problems not only to the nervous system but also to the whole body. 

What Is a Seizure?

A seizure is described as uncontrollable firing and disruption of brain signals throughout the neurons that cause temporary abnormality in the muscles. This can be due to conditions resulting from genetics or a brain injury, but most of the time, the cause is unknown. But it is critical to keep in mind that not all seizure episodes are alike. It can vary between a single event or a recurring attack depending on the cause. Seizures can be acute or degenerative, depending on different causing factors. The symptoms experienced in seizures vary. It can develop slowly or suddenly, which can be life-threatening. In addition to this, seizures vary depending on the part of the brain involved. 

On the other hand, epilepsy is a neurological disorder that occurs when someone experiences two or more unprovoked seizures. It is characterized by abnormal brain activity, unusual behaviors, stiffness, twitching, and loss of awareness. The incidence of epilepsy is estimated to happen in one in every 26 people. While this condition can happen to anyone, those who have certain illnesses are at greater risk. 

Although there are presenting symptoms of seizures, there are certain conditions that can imitate seizures. Here are some:

  • Transient ischemic attacks (TIAs);
  • Cardiac arrhythmias;
  • Vertigo;
  • Movement disorders;
  • Migraine headaches;
  • Fainting spells (syncope);
  • Interruption of brain circulation;
  • Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) or low oxygen (hypoxia).

Types of Seizures:

Not all seizure episodes are the same. It is easy to tell that someone is having an attack when the patient is having obvious physical signs such as when a person falls, shakes, loses awareness of the surroundings, or loses consciousness. But sometimes, there are signs of seizures that can be confusing, like when the patient is staring blankly; hence it is essential to know the signs of an episode and which kind of seizure someone is experiencing.

Generalized Seizure

This kind of seizure affects both sides of the brain. This can be classified into two:

  • Absence seizures, better known as petit mal seizures, are characterized by rapid blinking or staring into space for a short period.
  • Also referred to as grand mal seizures, tonic-clonic seizures are characterized by loss of consciousness, falling, muscle spasms, and crying out.

Focal Seizure

Also known as a partial seizure, it starts in one area of the brain and can spread across and cause mild or severe symptoms, depending on how the electrical discharges spread. This can be classified into three:

  • Simple focal seizures usually affect a small part of the brain, present symptoms of twitching, or experience a strange sense of taste or smell. 
  • Complex focal seizures make a patient confused or dazed and unable to respond for up to a few minutes.
  • Secondary generalized seizures start with a focal seizure and then become a generalized seizure.

What You Should & Should Not Do During A Seizure

You should:

  • Lay the patient down on the floor.
  • Turn the patient sideways to help him breathe.
  • Support the person’s head to protect it from injury.
  • Loosen any clothes that can make it difficult to breathe.
  • Remove any sharp object near the patient.
  • Take note of the duration of the seizure. More than five minutes of an episode requires immediate medical attention.

You should not:

  • Try to stop the patient’s movement while the seizure is happening. 
  • Put anything in the person’s mouth. 
  • Attempt to perform CPR. 
  • Offer anything to eat or drink after the seizure.

At present, there is still no cure for epilepsy, but treatments to help reduce the episodes are available. This includes the use of anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs) and therapies like deep brain stimulation (DBS) or vagus nerve stimulation (VNS). Epilepsy surgery is also an option which is a procedure where resectioning, disconnecting, or stimulating the part of the brain affected is done. It is also suggested that dietary changes like practicing a ketogenic diet may help reduce seizures. In addition to this, observing healthy practices such as managing stress, sleeping regularly, avoiding drugs and alcohol, and bright and flashing lights may reduce epileptic seizures. 

Natural Treatment for Seizures

As with the use of any supplement, you must consult your doctor first before using any herbal remedies. While there are some that can worsen seizures or negatively interact with your medications, there are also several botanicals that may help with the management of epileptic episodes. Here are some:

Medical Cannabis 

One of the reasons CBD became famous is because of Charlotte Figi, who used CBD to manage her seizures due to Dravet syndrome. Since then, changes in legislation mean that specialist doctors in the UK can now prescribe whole-plant medical cannabis to people who suffer from certain types of seizures in Dravet and Lennox Gastaut syndromes. While some studies show that THC can have an anti-seizure effect, CBD is the most important cannabinoid for seizure treatment. In certain cases, doctors can prescribe low THC and high CBD medical marijuana for these conditions.

Flacourtia indica 

This species of flowering plant native to Africa and parts of Asia is commonly known as Governor’s/Madagascar plum or Indian plum. According to preliminary studies, this plant possesses anticonvulsant properties, which can help delay the onset of a seizure.

Citrus Sinensis

Commonly known as sweet orange, it is believed to have anti-epileptic properties; hence, it is used to treat neurological diseases. According to a preliminary study, this fruit contains anticonvulsant and anti-seizure effects due to its flavonoid-rich components.

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