Epilepsy

Do you suffer from frequent seizures?

Epilepsy is the result of unusual electrical activity in the brain. It’s also a fairly common condition, affecting around 2.5 million people in the United States. The most common symptom of epilepsy is seizures, when abnormal electrical signals in the brain give way to an electrical storm that can leave you helpless.

Get diagnosed

When seizures strike, it’s important to speak with a neurologist to get your type of epilepsy diagnosed. Once it’s been determined that you do suffer from epilepsy, your doctor can help control your seizures through drug therapy.

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If you don’t have a neurologist and aren’t quite sure who to call, you can use our find a physician online tool to find a doctor that works for you.

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Epilepsy Monitoring

When you’re running fast to win a race you probably want a burst of energy to carry you across the finish line first. But a burst of energy is not always a good thing. Intermittent bursts of energy in the brain can lead to seizures and affect your consciousness, bodily movements or sensations for a short period of time. Repeated seizures could be a sign of epilepsy.

Epilepsy is a disorder of the brain that can cause temporary confusion, staring spells, uncontrollable jerking motions of the arms and legs, and unconsciousness. About half of epilepsy cases occur for no known reason. However, it can be caused by genetic factors, head trauma, certain medical disorders like a stroke, dementia, prenatal injury, and developmental disorders such as autism or Down syndrome.

People at increased risk for epilepsy are men, young children, adults over the age of 65, those with a family history of the disorder, anyone who has had a stroke or brain infection, and those who experienced high fevers in childhood.

There are two main types of seizures with subcategories. Focal or partial seizures originate in one part of the brain. Simple focal seizures do not cause loss of consciousness, but may affect sensory perceptions and result in involuntary jerking of part of the body. Complex focal seizures change consciousness or awareness, and may result in non-purposeful movements, such as walking in circles or staring.

Generalized seizures appear to involve the whole brain. They include:

  • Absence seizures, also called petit mal, which cause subtle body movements and brief loss of awareness
  • Tonic seizures that result in muscles stiffening
  • Clonic seizures associated with recurring, twitching muscle contractions
  • Myoclonic seizures that appear as sudden, jerking movements in the arms and legs
  • Atonic seizures that cause loss of normal muscle tone
  • Tonic-clonic seizures, also called grand mal, which are intense episodes of body stiffening, shaking, loss of consciousness, and occasional loss of bladder control or tongue biting

Epilepsy can be diagnosed following blood tests as well as neurological and behavior examinations. Additional medical tests may be necessary, such as an electroencephalogram to check the electrical activity in the brain, or computerized tomography or magnetic resonance imaging to look for structural abnormalities like tumors, bleeding or cysts.

Treatment usually begins with medication to reduce the frequency and intensity of seizures. Surgery may be recommended if medicines are not effective. When tests show that seizures originate in a well-defined area that doesn’t interfere with vital functions, then that part of the brain may be surgically removed. If the affected part of the brain cannot be removed, doctors can make a series of small cuts to prevent seizures from spreading.

Some people may be candidates for vagus nerve stimulation, which involves implanting a device to deliver electrical pulses to the brain. Children may be able to reduce seizures by following a ketogenic diet that requires eating foods high in fats and low in carbohydrates. For more information about epilepsy, talk with your doctor of visit the Epilepsy Foundation website at www.epilepsyfoundation.org.

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Top 5 Sleeping Positions for Back Pain

Dealing with back pain can be a hassle, especially at night. Back pain can make it difficult for you to find a comfortable sleeping position which may eventually lead to sleep deprivation or worse, a sleep disorder. Not to mention, some medications for back pain may also interfere with your sleep.

If you’re suffering from back pain, regardless if it’s caused by bad posture, stress, arthritis or any other medical condition, these five best sleeping positions for back pain can help you improve the quality of your sleep.

Sleeping Positions for Back Pain

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1. Lying on your side in a fetal position
This position helps open the space between your spinal vertebrae, lessen tension on your discs and prevent the spine from curving backwards.

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2. Lying on your back in a reclined position
Reclining helps reduce pressure on your spine and helps provide support on your back by creating an angle between your trunk and thighs.

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3. Lying on your side with a pillow supporting your knees
The crucial part of this position is the pillow between your knees. It helps reduce lower back pain and helps keep proper spinal alignment.

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4. Lying on your stomach with a pillow below your pelvis and lower abdomen
Patients who are suffering from degenerative disc disease may benefit most in this sleeping position as it can help reduce stress that rests on the space between the discs.

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5. Lying flat on your back with a pillow underneath your knees
This position helps the back keep its natural curve, while distributing the body weight more evenly and reducing stress on the lumbar spine with the help of the pillow.

Takeaway

Back pain itself may already affect the quality of your day-to-day performance, especially if it’s the severe kind. But that doesn’t mean it has to take a toll on the quality and duration of your sleep, too. Each person is different, and your doctor may recommend one of these sleeping positions more than another for your specific type of pain. That in turn may help improve your sleep quality as well as help improve your cognitive performance, mood and energy levels, strengthen your immune system and help protect you from chronic diseases.

Sources:
Healthline
Sleep Foundation