Epilepsy and Its Effect on the Body

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Epilepsy and Its Effect on the Body

by SarahD on September 14, 2010

The Impact of Epilepsy on the Body

If you have ever suffered an epileptic seizure, or know someone who has, you know that it can be an intense and frightening experience for all involved.  Even if you know what to expect and how to help in order to avoid damage or injury, the situation can still feel overwhelming.  And if it happens to you, then you likely black out only to awaken terrified and confused.  But these are just the immediately visible symptoms.  There are a whole host of unseen changes that occur in the body as a result of epilepsy.  And while the seizure is certainly the most prominent symptom of this disorder, and probably the best known, there is a lot more to the condition than most people realize.

For starters, epilepsy is primarily a disease of the brain, not the body.  It causes those it affects to suffer from increased brain activity, mainly in the cerebral cortex.  During a seizure, neurons in the brain increase activity to the point that they are firing off at a rate of about 500 times per second, far exceeding normal standards.  And while muscle spasms are a direct result of this activity, it is possible, even probable, that those who experience seizures are also having frequent periods of only slightly heightened brain activity that result in no physical manifestations whatsoever.  These periods may be occasional or occur repeatedly on any given day, with the sufferer having no knowledge that they are happening.

Contrary to popular belief, seizures are generally brief and do no lasting damage to the brain.  The body and the psyche, however, can be severely altered by this disease, although probably not in the way you think.  The greatest danger to someone who suffers from epilepsy is that seizures can strike suddenly and unexpectedly.  Victims often completely lose muscle control and can experience severe bodily harm as a result.  They may also lose consciousness at the outset and unless they are already in a prone position, they are likely to fall and hit their head or injure other body parts.  In addition, thrashing motions, although brief, can lead to bruises, cuts, broken bones, and concussions.  So while the seizure itself generally does no lasting damage, those who experience them are at great risk from their environment.  And while there are certainly cases of massive brain damage and even death resulting from extended or multiple seizures, these instances are relatively rare.

In addition to physical symptoms, many epilepsy patients suffer from a number of psychological disorders that may affect their overall health, including anxiety, stress, and depression.  This may center on a constant fear of seizing episodes and the inability to control one’s life, or it may be the result of social stigma attached to the disease.  In either case, the psychological effects of dealing with the disorder can often be just as detrimental to the patient as the epilepsy itself.  And while these may manifest in any number of physical indicators, they are not biologically linked to epilepsy.  However, they can be just as damaging (if not more so) as the disease itself.

Sarah Danielson is a writer for a custom t shirt printing company. If you’re looking to create your own custom clothing, take a look at the selection that T Shirt Printing has to offer.

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