Epilepsy is a neurogical disorder causing repetitive transient episodes of loss of consciousness, behavioural changes or other symptoms. We can talk of epilepsy if at least 2 attacks occured.
The best known epileptic seizure is the tonic clonic seizure causing loss of consciousness and muscle contractions all over the body. Sometimes patients bite their tongue or lose urine. After the seizure most patients are confused for a while.
Epileptic seizures and epilepsy might occur at any age. Every year about 45 in 100 000 people are diagnosed with epilepsy.
Lack of sleep, use of alcohol or other drugs, stress, … might provoke a seizure.
When epilepsy is suspected, a neurological examination is necessary. The type of seizures, risk factors and medical history are evaluated. Usually an EEG is done, checking the electrical activity of the brain (see EEG). Sometimes a 24 hours video EEG is recommended. Usually a brain scan (CT or MRI) is necessary.
In case of epilepsy, usually a treatment with an anti-epileptic drug is started. About 70% of patients remain free of seizures once on treatment. If a patient still has seizures after trying 2 anti-epileptic drugs, we talk about refractory epilepsy. In this case other possibilities such as brain surgery are considered.
If someone had an epileptic seizure, the Belgian law unfortunately prohibits driving vehicles for a certain time. This needs to be discussed with the neurologist.