Epilepsy

Is epilepsy inherited?

It is not possible to give a simple answer to this question because there are many different types of epilepsy and its development is based upon a complex interaction of environmental and genetic factors. Except for some epileptic syndromes, in the vast majority of cases the child of a parent with epilepsy will never have epilepsy. In the case of focal symptomatic type of epilepsy in parents, epidemiological studies have shown that the risk of epilepsy in a child is slightly less than 5%. If one parent has idiopathic generalized epilepsy, the risk of inheritance in their children is approximately 9-12%, and is further increased if both parents have epilepsy. For some types of epilepsy it is possible to determine genetic mutation that caused them. In such cases the neurologist may recommend additional genetic testing to assess the risk of epilepsy inheritance with greater accuracy.

Additional information http://www.epilepsy.com/learn/epilepsy-101/epilepsy-inherited

What are the causes of epilepsy?

Given the causes, epilepsies can be divided into 2 groups. In the first group are epilepsies with some acquired brain tissue damage that causes epilepsy. Such damage may, for example, be due to traumatic brain injury, birth injury, stroke or some metabolic diseases. The epilepsy caused by acquired  brain damage can be called symptomatic. In the second group there are epilepsies  called idiopathic.  In patients with idiopathic epilepsy  no signs of brain damage can be found, even when using the highest resolution magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). In idiopathic epilepsies, genetic factors are dominant causes of the disease, which in some cases can be identified by genetic analysis. However, there are also cases of epilepsy that cannot be classified into any of the mentioned groups.

How important is EEG?

EEG (electroencephalography) is a diagnostic method that provides valuable information regarding the functioning of cells in the brain. It can detect transient (paroxysmal) abnormalities in the brain cell function, which are characteristic of epilepsy. However, it should be noted that normal or atypical findings do not rule out epilepsy, as it is sometimes not identifiable by routine EEG recording. The most accurate diagnosis is made when the EEG finding is interpreted together with reliable data on symptoms and other findings.

Can epilepsy be cured?

There are various syndromes (types) of epilepsy, each with a different prognosis.  Epilepsy syndromes differ in patient’s age, cause, EEG, neuroimaging findings, and prognosis. In general, epilepsy syndromes predominantly caused by genetic factors have a better prognosis.  For example, the so-called benign Rolandic epilepsy usually disappears during adolescence.  Epidemiological studies covering very different forms of epilepsy have shown that remission, in which medication will no longer be necessary, can be expected in approximately 20-30% of patients.

What is the difference between syncope and epileptic seizure?

Syncope (fainting) may be described as a loss of consciousness and muscle strength characterized by a fast onset, short duration, and spontaneous recovery. It is caused by a temporary decrease in blood flow to the brain. There are many possible causes of syncope, which cannot be listed and described in this short text. However, it can be said that syncope is usually harmless and may be provoked by some of the following situations:  severe fear, intense pain, longer standing in a poorly ventilated area, urination, coughing, and more. Unlike in epileptic seizures, during syncope the loss of consciousness occurs more slowly, often after feeling nauseous and lightheaded, turning pale and getting sweaty palms. Syncope may sometimes be associated with muscle twitching , while muscle contractions  are one of the major determinants of epileptic seizures. Unlike after seizures, post-syncope recovery is very rapid and complete. Another distinction between seizure and syncope is that syncope almost never occurs in a supine position

For most people syncope is not major health problem, so consultation with a family doctor is usually sufficient. However, in some cases it can be caused by serious illnesses, for example some cardiac arrhythmias.

Additional information: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/182524.php

What are the regulations for a driver’s license?

The issue of driving licenses is regulated differently in different countries

Croatia: For a non-professional driver, a  12 months? seizure-free period is required.

What women with epilepsy need to know?

Epilepsy in women has many specificities. They mostly relate to sexuality, contraception, taking medication during pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding. However, women with epilepsy should also be aware of other gender-related  issues , such as the specifics of epilepsy in the menopause period, or the variability of seizure frequency during menstrual cycle.

More details: https://www.epilepsysociety.org.uk/women-and-epilepsy#.Xg9WltJKiM9

Is there an association of people with epilepsy?

Croatian  Association for Epilepsy was founded in 1997. It is a member of the International Bureau for Epilepsy– www.ibe-epilepsy.org

This website contains contacts of all epilepsy associations by each country.