A Novel Way To Analyze The Genetic Variants For Epilepsy

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What are the four types of seizures?

Though seizures can be of several types, the four main categories include:

  • Focal or partial seizures
  • Generalized seizures
  • Infantile seizures
  • Psychogenic non-epileptic seizures


What are the different causes of epilepsy?

Epilepsies can be caused by a lot of factors.

However, the three main causes include:

  1. The genetic likelihood that is inherited or uninherited
  2. Structural changes in the brain such as damages, injuries, and infections
  3. Structural changes due to genetic conditions that affect the brain


What are the first signs of a seizure?

The symptoms of a seizure might vary widely.

Some individuals might stare blankly for a few seconds while others might twitch their arms or legs repeatedly.

A single seizure does not indicate epilepsy.

It takes at least a couple of unprovoked seizures to be diagnosed as epilepsy.


What causes epilepsy in children?

The following have been attributed to causing epilepsy in children:

  • Intracranial hemorrhage occurs in premature babies and causes a bleed inside the brain.
  • Perinatal hypoxia is the lack of oxygen to the brain
  • Low levels of glucose, sodium or calcium in the blood.
  • Infections like meningitis or encephalitis.
  • Brain damages like cerebral dysplasia or dysgenesis.
  • Genetic diseases like benign neonatal convulsions, GLUT 1 deficiency or Dravet syndrome.


What events in the brain lead to epilepsy?

Epilepsy is a neurological disorder that affects the brain and makes individuals more susceptible to experiencing recurrent seizures.

A seizure is caused when there is an interruption in the normal connections between the brain nerve cells such as high fever, variations in blood sugar levels, drug or alcohol withdrawal or a brain concussion.


How is epilepsy treated?

Although most cases of epilepsy are treated using medication, drugs cannot cure epilepsy.

They can, however, control seizures effectively.

Approximately 80% of epilepsy patients have their seizures controlled by medication. This implies that the other 20% cannot be helped by these drugs.

Some older drugs prescribed for epilepsy that is still used are Diazepam, Phenytoin, Divalproex, Carbamazepine, Phenobarbital, Valproic acid, Primidone, and Ethosuximide.

Some newer drugs include Cannabidiol, Felbamate, Levetiracetam, Pregabalin, Tiagabine, Topiramate, Oxcarbazepine, Lacosamide, and Zonisamide.


How is epilepsy diagnosed?

Upon reviewing your symptoms and medical history, your physician might order several tests to diagnose epilepsy.

The diagnostic test for epilepsy include:

  • Neurological examination
  • Blood tests
  • EEG (Electroencephalogram)
  • CT (Computed tomography) scan
  • MRI (Magnetic resonance imaging)
  • Functional MRI (fMRI),
  • PET (Positron emission tomography) scan
  • Neuropsychological tests
  • Single-photon emission computerized tomography


Can you have a sudden onset of epilepsy?

Anybody can develop epilepsy.

Age, health condition, and race might influence the likelihood of developing epilepsy.

New cases of epilepsy are noted among children, particularly during those below one-year-old, and it gradually goes down until age 10.

Among older individuals, particularly those older than 55, the rate of occurrence starts to increase as people develop brain tumors, stroke or Alzheimer’s disease.


How does epilepsy feel like?

During epilepsy, your brain undergoes bursts of electrical activity which can cause several symptoms depending on the type of seizure and the part of the brain which is involved.

Normal brain activities can also occur during a seizure.

You might be able to move, feel, see and do many things.

While seizures have a start, middle and an end phase, it might be difficult to categorize it sometimes.

When you experience more than one seizure, you might notice that they could be stereotypic, episodic and can also be unpredictable.

Common symptoms of a seizure include changes in your thoughts, the way you speak, vision problems, muscle changes, drooling, losing bladder controls, and trouble breathing.


Is epilepsy a mental illness?

No, epilepsy is not a mental illness.

Majority of epileptic patients do not have any cognitive or psychological issues.

However, psychological problems are limited to individuals with uncontrolled and severe epilepsy.

Although epilepsy does not cause intellectual problems, the two can co-occur and might have a common cause.

For instance, an injury or infection during birth can cause both mental retardation and epilepsy.

Although epilepsy is not a mental illness, it is caused due to a brain malfunction similar to other mental disorders. And even though epilepsy is no longer considered a psychiatric disorder, its psychiatric dimension is vital for future research.


Can epilepsy change your personality?

Epilepsy can affect your personality and change other elements of your behavior.

One might experience changes in their emotional state and reduced libido.

Fetishism, exhibitionism, hypersexuality, and transvestism can occur.

Personality changes, depression, psychosis, and paranoia can also be identified among epileptic patients.

Some treatable issues include impotence, anxiety and panic attacks.

When the risk factors are identified, these disorders can be prevented.


How does epilepsy affect you emotionally?

Although mood problems and epilepsy are not associated, epilepsy can affect your emotions.

The fear of seizures is very common among epileptic patients.

About 1 out of every 3 epileptic patients, experience fear of seizures

Anxiety and depression might be experienced for the next few days or weeks.

Memory loss or confusions post-seizure can cause worries.

Before experiencing a seizure, one might feel anxious, irritable, aggressive or depressed.

Also, epileptic patients might undergo emotional disturbances as a part of the side effects on their medications.

Structural changes in the brain can cause both epilepsy and mood disorders.


Is bipolar disorder related to epilepsy?

Nigerian researchers report that epilepsy and bipolar disorder could share genetic roots.

The study concluded that there is a genetic or environmental relationship between epilepsy and bipolar disorder.

It has also been suggested that biochemical, structural, and functional abnormalities in the primary bipolar disorder could occur secondary to epilepsy.

Another research conducted by the Bayer college of Medicine has reported that the gene associated with bipolar disorder controls the balance between brain excitation and inhibition is associated with epilepsy.


Is epilepsy linked to schizophrenia?

Leucine-rich glioma inactivated (LGI) gene is linked to partial epilepsy with auditory features also represent schizophrenia.

Research suggest that epileptic patients have about 2.5 times higher the risk of schizophrenia compared to the normal population.


Does epilepsy cause anxiety?

Everybody is prone to developing anxiety at some point in their life.

However, it is quite significant in the life of an epileptic patient.

Although people with any medical condition might get anxious, an epileptic patient is more prone to anxiety due to the fear of seizures.

Not only does anxiety occurs as a reaction to the diagnosis, but also does exist as a symptom of epilepsy and a side effect of the epilepsy drugs.


Can stress lead to epilepsy?

Yes, especially in severe and prolonged cases, stress can be a trigger for seizures.

Particularly, in individuals with a genetic risk for epilepsy, stress might be the primary cause.

Unfortunately, the fear of developing seizures due to stress can make you furthermore stressed and is thus important to break this vicious cycle by managing stress effectively.


Is epilepsy fatal?

Studies indicate that deaths due to epilepsy can be due to other coexisting health conditions such as neurological issues, heart or breathing problems, depression, anxiety, cancers, drug or alcohol abuse or other mental health disorders.

Deaths can be caused by complications during or post seizures or due to accidents such as falls, drowning or suicides.


What is the life expectancy of a person with epilepsy?

While the reduction in life expectations among idiopathic or cryptogenic patients was estimated to be around two years, that of symptomatic epilepsy patients were estimated to be about ten years.


Who is more prone to develop epilepsy?

As per the epilepsy society’s statistics, about 1 in 50 individuals might have epilepsy at some point in their lives.

People of any age can develop epilepsy, but it is mostly diagnosed in individuals under the age of 20 and those over 65 years of age.


What foods can trigger seizures?

At present, there is no evidence to suggest that a particular type of food triggers seizures.

However, in reflex epilepsy, some people have experienced that food colorings, monosodium glutamate and artificial sweeteners have triggered seizures.

What food should people with epilepsy avoid?

People with epilepsy should avoid the following foods:

  1. Refined carbohydrates (pizza, soft drinks, white bread, cakes, white rice, white pasta, chips, and bagels)
  2. Certain fruits and vegetables that fall in the medium-to-high- glycemic index (mangoes, raisins, bananas, mashed potatoes, and dates)
  3. Foods containing artificial sweeteners, preservative and MSG (Monosodium Glutamate)
  4. Ginkgo nuts


What are the warning signs of a seizure?

While seizures are mostly unpredictable and episodic; you can be aware of certain warning symptoms such as:

  1. Auras ranging from headaches to visualizing colors
  2. Feelings of detachment
  3. Unusual smells, tastes or feelings
  4. Daydreaming
  5. Jerking movements of an arm, leg or body
  6. Fuzziness
  7. Confusion
  8. Forgetfulness
  9. Numbness or tingling sensation in certain body parts
  10. Unexplained weakness or sleepiness


Does seizure affect your consciousness?

In an individual with Focal Impaired Awareness Seizures (FIAS), the consciousness gets affected and might leave them in a confused state of mind.

While they might be able to hear you, they might not be able to interpret what you say and cannot respond to you either.

If you speak loudly, they might mistake it as being aggression and might react aggressively.


Does a person remember having a seizure?

Yes. Although people with epilepsy cannot speak or move until a seizure gets over, they do not lose their consciousness.

They can perfectly recollect what happened to them during a seizure.


How does epilepsy affect daily life?

Living with epilepsy can be quite challenging.

Being diagnosed with the condition can be quite upsetting and make a person with epilepsy feel isolated and alone.

The medicines they take might cause side effects which might make it difficult for them to cope with school work, making them tired, difficult to pay attention and forgetful.

It might also be difficult to find a job or perform certain types of work.


Can you work if you have epilepsy?

The Equality Act 2010 protects epilepsy patients from being unfairly treated.

The act covers them during a job application, interview process and continues to cover once they start working too.

The act implies that employers cannot refuse a job to an individual just because they have epilepsy.

However, to ensure safety, they must refrain from applying for jobs that involve driving, working at heights, working near open fire/water and work that involves unguarded machinery.


Does epilepsy get worse if untreated?

Yes, epilepsy is left untreated, the seizures may occur throughout the patient’s life, and over time, it can get worse in severity and frequency.


Do you stop breathing during a seizure?

In tonic-clonic seizures, the affected child might stop breathing and turn blue.

It happens due to the stiffness caused in all their muscles, including that aids breathing. However, it occurs for a very brief period (about 30-45 seconds) and does not require CPR.

The child will start breathing sooner but in a shallow manner.


Are all seizures epilepsy?

Not all seizures indicate epilepsy.

  • Epileptic seizures are abnormal movements or behaviors occurring due to unusual electrical brain activity and are a characteristic symptom of epilepsy.
  • Non-epileptic seizures are not accompanied by abnormal electrical activity in the brain and might be due to stress or psychological issues.
  • Provoked seizures are those that occur as a result of trauma, hypoglycemia, high fever, low blood sodium, alcohol/drug abuse.

Normal EEG readings and lack of response to epileptic medicines can help distinguish between epilepsy and other seizure disorders.


Is epilepsy genetic disorder?

Certain individuals might be born with a genetic form of epilepsy with one or more genes causing it.

Finding the relationship between genes and seizures can be very complicated.

Seizures can also occur in children who are born with a structural change in a part of the brain.


Vitamin recommendations for epilepsy

Vitamins that reduce seizure frequency include vitamin B6 and vitamin E.

Minerals that reduce seizure frequency include manganese, taurine, dimethylglycine, and omega-3 fatty acids.

Thiamine helps improve cognitive function in epileptic patients.

Also, supplementation with folic acid, vitamin B6, biotin, vitamin D, and L-carnitine may be needed to prevent or treat deficiencies resulting from the use of anticonvulsant drugs.


Can coffee trigger epilepsy?

A Brazilian case study has reported a case of a man with partial symptomatic epilepsy experienced an increase in seizure frequency due to his heavy coffee drinking habit.

They also reported that once he stopped taking coffee, the frequency of his seizures had decreased dramatically.


Is Cannabis-based oil recommended for epilepsy patients?

Cannabis-based (CBD) oil has been reported to have prevented seizures in a patient who had experienced various treatment failures.

Doctors emphasize that CBD oil isn’t a miracle cure but that it can help eliminate or reduce epilepsy symptoms and also ease off side effects caused by other drugs.

The Texas Law permits only those with intractable epilepsy (where at least two other medications have failed to help) eligibility to be prescribed CBD oil.


Can physical exercise prevent epilepsy?

While exercising helps improve overall health and wellbeing, researchers have also found a link between exercises and reduction in the number of seizures in epileptic patients.

Also since lack of physical activity is associated with cardiovascular diseases, cancers, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, hypertension, anxiety, and depression.

Thus exercises can help prevent such conditions.


How do I know if I had a seizure?

Sometimes it can be hard to tell if you are having a seizure.

It can last from a few seconds to a few minutes.

While some individuals experience convulsions of their entire body, others stare blankly into space for some time.

One might lose consciousness or seem unaware of what’s going on, make uncontrollable jerking movements or experience unusual feelings or sensations (such as unexplained fear).

After a seizure, they might end up feeling tired, weak, or confused.


What causes non-epileptic seizures?

While the brain’s physical disorders cause epileptic seizures, the non-epileptic ones are caused by unusual stress, psychological experiences and traumatic events.


Can EEG show past seizure activity?

An EEG only shows brain activity at the time of the test.

If there are no seizures experienced at the time of testing, there may not be any unusual brain waves for it to record.




  1. http://epilepsyontario.org/about-epilepsy/types-of-seizures/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/15371287/
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/8441366/
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2768382/
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17397265


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