Epilepsy/Seizures: The brain is made up of millions of nerve cells gathered together. By passing electrical signals to each other, these nerve cells can control the body’s function, senses and thoughts. Sometimes the process of exchanging signals is suddenly interrupted and a seizure occurs. About 1% of people in the United States may have at least one seizure. A diagnosis of epilepsy typically means a person has had two or more seizures not caused by an outside medical condition such as low blood sugar, fevers, or heart problems. There are different types of seizures, based on the part of the brain that is involved. Some seizures present with sudden uncontrollable limb movements and unconsciousness, some present with staring and strange behavior, and some are only noticed by the child that is experiencing the seizure. Seizures usually begin in childhood, although they can happen at any age. Causes: In about half of cases, the exact cause of epilepsy is unknown. In the other half of cases, the cause can be linked to genetics, head trauma, tumors or stroke, infectious diseases or even birth trauma. Possible complications: Left untreated, persistent seizures can lead to brain damage. Seizures can also put a person at risk in certain situations such as when driving a car. People diagnosed with epilepsy are also at risk for sudden, unexplained death. Treatment: *Medication: Most people with epilepsy can become seizure-free by taking anti-seizure medication. *Surgery: If doctors are able to determine that the seizures all originate in the same area of the brain, they may be able to surgically remove that part of the brain to reduce eliminate seizures. Surgery can have significant side-effects. *Diet: Some children with epilepsy have been able to reduce their seizures by following a ketogenic diet, high in fats and low in carbohydrates. Prognosis: The long-term prognosis for epilepsy depends on the severity of seizures and treatment. If frequent, severe seizures have occurred without treatment, permanent brain damage is possible. However, over half of children diagnosed with epilepsy can eventually discontinue medication and lead a seizure-free life.
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