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Epilepsy

Epilepsy is a chronic condition characterised by the presence and recurrence of seizures that are the result of abnormal electrical activity in the brain. There are different types of epilepsy: childhood absence seizures, juvenile myoclonic epilepsy, Landau-Kleffner syndrome, Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, temporal lobe epilepsy, etc.

Epilepsy may be caused by an infection, a genetic mutation, a brain injury or a brain tumour, abnormal blood vessels or a brain haemorrhage. Children with genetic syndromes, autism and some metabolic disorders can also suffer from it. Over half of epilepsy cases are idiopathic, which means that their cause is unclear. The type of epilepsy depends on the type of seizures the person presents. A seizure can be: 

  • Primary generalised, which affects both hemispheres of the brain at the same time.
  • Focal, which only affects one side of the brain, although it may end up spreading to the other side (secondary generalised).

Children with this pathology often have both generalised and focal seizures. Children who suffer from epilepsy usually present sequelae that are secondary to their own neurological impairment and to the effects of the seizures themselves. The evolution and prognosis of the impairments that may appear depend on different factors. On one hand are neurological factors (such as aetiology, age at onset, frequency and duration of seizures), and on the other, those related to the treatment used (drug, drug resistance or surgery) and individual factors (for instance, the family and the socio-economic level).

Treating epilepsy 

Epilepsy is usually treated with medication. If drugs do not control the seizures, other types of interventions are needed, including surgery. Surgery to treat epilepsy is a procedure that modifies the area of the brain where seizures begin. This intervention proves most effective when the seizures always originate in a single area of the brain. Surgery is not the first line of treatment, but it is considered when at least two anticonvulsant medications have failed to control the seizures.

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