Simple & Complex Partial Seizures: Causes & Treatment Options

Seizures or epilepsy is a disorder of the central nervous system wherein the nerve cell activity in the brain gets disrupted, and causes seizures or intervals of anomalous behavior, abnormal sensations and even loss of consciousness.

Seizures differ widely. Some people stare blankly for some seconds during a seizure, while others twitch their arms and / or legs.

Mild seizures need treatment, given that they can be perilous during activities such as swimming and driving. Treatment with medicines and occasionally surgical intervention can control seizures in about 80 % of the individuals.

What Are The Causes Of Partial Seizures?

Seizures are caused by abnormal activity in the brain cells, and hence they afflict any process your brain coordinates. Partial seizures or focal seizures result from anomalous activity in only one area of the brain. Partial seizures fall in to 2 categories.

  • Partial seizures without loss of consciousness, i.e. simple partial seizures. These do not cause loss of consciousness. They modify emotions or alter the way things smell, look, feel, taste or sound.
    There may also be automatic jerking of some body part, such as hand, or leg, and sensory symptoms such as tingling, faintness and flashing lights.
  • Focal dyscognitive seizures, i.e. complex partial seizures. These are seen as an alteration in or loss of consciousness or awareness. You may gaze into space and not react as you should to your environment; or carry out cyclic movements, such as chewing, hand rubbing, swallowing or going around in circles.

Symptoms Of Partial Seizures

Signs and symptoms include:

  • Staring and confusion.
  • Involuntary movements of the arms and legs.
  • Loss of consciousness or awareness.

Treatment Options For Partial Seizures

  • Doctors commence treatment of seizures with medication. In case the medications fail to manage the condition, your doctor may propose surgery. Most people become seizure-free by taking an anti-seizure drug. Some reduce the occurrence as well as the intensity of the seizures by taking a combination of drugs.
  • By and large, you can discontinue medications after 2 to 3 years without seizures, confer with your health care provider and understand what is optimal for you.
  • Your doctor will consider your age, frequency of epilepsy, as well as other factors whilst opting for the most suitable medicine. He will first prescribe a single drug at a comparatively low dose and will increase the dose gradually until the epilepsy is controlled.
  • Take medications exactly as prescribed by your doctor. Generally, you become seizure-free with the first medication. If the drugs do not proffer agreeable results, your physician will advise surgery or other therapies. You need to have regular follow-ups with your doctor to assess your condition and medications.
  • Vagus nerve stimulation is a technique that is frequently employed; the doctor will insert a gadget known as a vagus nerve stimulator below the skin of your chest, akin to a pacemaker. From the stimulator, wires are connected to the vagus nerve in your neck. This device transmits surges of electrical energy via the vagus nerve and to your brain. This device is known to decrease seizures by about 30 %.
  • Doctors also prescribe a ketogenic diet to manage epilepsy better. Following a diet that is high in fats and low in carbohydrates helps remain seizure-free.
  • Furthermore, minimally invasive surgical techniques, – MRI-guided laser ablation, provides immense promise at reducing seizures with fewer risks.
  • Stereotactic radio-surgery is also being touted as a potential treatment for some types of epilepsy. The doctor directs radiation at that definite area in the brain that is responsible for the seizure.