The International League Against Epilepsy defines epilepsy as a brain disorder with the following conditions:

at least two unprovoked or reflex seizures occurring more than 24 hours apart

one unprovoked (or reflex) seizure and a probability of further seizures similar to the general recurrence risk (at least 60%) after two unprovoked seizures, occurring over the next 10 years

An accurate diagnosis of an epileptic seizure (when epilepsy has been determined using the existing criteria)

Epileptic encephalopathies represent a heterogenous group of diseases characterized by frequent seizures, resistance to antiepileptic drugs and a substantial delay of psychomotor development. The disorder is often diagnosed in children of varying ages, including newborns.

Diseases of the brain may drastically alter the lives of the patient and their family members. The disease may change or fully disrupt everything that makes our lives fulfilling: joy, movement, excitement, the memories that accompany us throughout our lives.

Epilepsy is a group of chronic neurological disorders involving recurring unprovoked seizures.

Seizures result from excessive electrical activity in the brain’s nerve cell network which, due to influence of certain factors, may become accustomed to producing excessive amounts of impulses in short stretches of time.

There are different types of seizures. This is why they are categorized as “petit mal” and “grand mal”.

“Grand mal” seizures often start suddenly, taking hold the body with muscle tension and rhythmed contraction. They lead to loss of consciousness and balance fully ridding the person of the ability to control their actions. These seizures usually last no longer than 5 minutes.

“Petit mal” or minor seizures may occur with minimal external effect, like for instance, the person briefly not responding to being verbally addressed. During a minor seizure the person still does momentarily lose consciousness either partly or completely. Often, the above conditions may be accompanied by involuntary erratic movements of the arms, fingers, tongue or lips etc. “Petit mal” seizures may occur with the person being fully conscious and being able to fell and describe the experience. This type of seizures takes on various forms, such as sensations on the skin of a person’s limbs, face or one half of the body (numbness or goosebumps) or this may take on the form of muscle contraction of said body parts on one side of the body or as a “wave” stemming from the upper abdominal region followed by a feeling of fear.

The possible reasons leading up to the disorder’s development include the brain being having a higher degree of convulsive readiness which is determined by a person’s genetics and may be further triggered by external factors (lack of sleep, alcohol abuse, stress, disease complications that may lead to brain damage: prolonged deprivation of oxygen, head injury, inflammatory brain disease, cerebral hemorrhage, etc.)

Epilepsy is not inherited. What a person may inherit is a high degree of convulsive readiness of the brain which may be present in many people without causing clinical manifestations, i.e. seizures. The disorder may occur with 2-8% of children whose parents are epileptic. If both parents have epilepsy the chances of the child developing epilepsy increase.

Epilepsy can be divided into 3 groups by causes of the disease:

-The first group of epilepsy is caused by genetic predisposition. Generally, first group epilepsy patients have relatives in their family tree who developed epilepsy at an early age or in teenage years. These patients have no neurological deficit, their development is not delayed, and no structural changes to their brain will be identified by tomography. Under treatment, such patients acquire control over seizures relatively quickly. Quite often, the prescribed drugs may be gradually cancelled with no adverse consequence after several years of regular admission. There are certain epilepsies occurring in children that almost always have a favorable prognosis and the appropriateness of using antiepileptic drugs is decided in consultation with a doctor.

-Epilepsies of the second group often develop based on an initial disorder of the brain. The first seizures may come months or years after encephalitis, head injury, blood-stroke or oxygen deprivation suffered during unfavorable pregnancy (or labor) which have caused cicatricial changes in certain parts of the brain. Studying the patient’s family history often does not discover seizures with relatives but the patient shows delays or regression in development and a neurological deficit while tomography may detect cicatricial changes in the brain and laboratory test results may indicate metabolic disorders.

-The third group of epilepsies differs from the above two groups mainly by two factors – a lack of evident family record on the one hand, and on the other hand by a history of suffered brain disease before the commencement of seizures. Tomographic examination does not detect changes in the brain of such patients. These type of epilepsies are categorized as being of unknown origin.