Epilepsy is an illness of the brain, so it’s important to understand a little about the brain’s structure and how epilepsy affects it. The most common symptom of epilepsy is bursts of electrical energy that disrupt the normal electrical activity in the brain.
Epilepsy manifests itself in many ways. The symptoms and the degree of severity can differ greatly from one person to another, as well as from one seizure to the next.
The brain is made up of two hemispheres and each contains four lobes. The lobes of the brain are responsible for various parts of our body.
The following are the four types of lobes:
- Frontal lobe – voluntary movement or activity and cognitive functions.
- Parietal lobe – temperature, taste, touch, and spatial awareness.
- Occipital lobe – vision.
- Temporal lobe – memories and hearing.
The location of the seizure in the brain and the symptoms exhibited are determined by which side of the brain it originates. Focal seizures occur when a seizure starts in only one hemisphere of the brain, whereas generalized seizures begin on both sides. We’ll look at what’s known about how epilepsy affects the brain in this post.
What happens to the brain if someone has epilepsy?
Epilepsy is a neurological disease that affects the brain. The causes of epilepsy are diverse. The problem produces abnormal electric activity in the brain owing to a variety of causes.
Epilepsy is a neurological condition in which the brain’s normal electrical activity gets disturbed, causing seizures and unusual movements or behavior. When the brain’s message to other parts of the body is scrambled by a burst of electricity, this leads to the wide range of symptoms caused by epileptic fits.
How do epileptic seizures affect the brain?
Epileptic seizures are caused by brief bursts of electricity in the brain. Every epileptic seizure is different. Some seizure patterns affect only a small portion of the brain, while others may affect the entire brain. Some seize for just a few seconds, while others can go on for several minutes.
Seizures do not generally cause major, permanent brain damage, but recent research has shown that some do. Seizures of a more serious nature might alter the structure of the brain or influence a person’s cognitive abilities.
If you have focal seizures rather than generalised epilepsy, you are more likely to encounter difficulties thinking. Some people report that a seizure damaged their memory, language, or other cognitive abilities. This can happen when a seizure disrupts brain function or prevents different sections of the brain from interacting with one another.
After a seizure, some cognitive abilities that people report having include:
‘Cognitive impairment in Epilepsy: the Role of Network Abnormalities,’ a 2015 medical research titled ‘Cognitive Impairment in Epilepsy: The Influence of Network Disruptions,’ concludes that ‘seizure-induced molecular and cellular modifications that contribute to cognitive deterioration are numerous and likely to be cumulative.’
Epilepsy can damage the brain and cognitive abilities of some people. Every case is unique, and whether any detrimental changes to the brain happen depends on the type of seizures experienced and the source of epilepsy.
Does epilepsy cause any other problems in the brain?
Epilepsy has a wide range of symptoms, each of which is unique to an individual. Those with very minor epilepsy may not experience any significant or long-lasting brain damage. It can induce irreversible brain damage in some circumstances when epilepsy is more severe or if a prolonged status epilepticus seizure occurs.
People with epilepsy frequently suffer from a variety of other medical issues, which the same 2015 study on cognitive impairment and epilepsy notes are ‘more common in persons with epilepsy than would be expected by chance.’”
The long-term consequences of epilepsy on the brain are still being studied, with many unanswered questions. According to a news story on the Epilepsy Foundation’s website, one of the difficulties in determining the long-term impact of epileptic seizures on the brain is that they frequently occur as a result of an injury to the brain. This makes it tough for researchers to determine what damage was already there and what was caused by the seizures.
Care Business Associate Training offers Epilepsy Awareness courses to help family and friends of persons with epilepsy learn more about the signs of epilepsy and how to provide emergency first aid if someone has a seizure.