Epilepsy is a condition of the nervous system in which the person experiences recurrent seizures or convulsions. The seizures occur because of the abnormal signals sent by the cluster cells or neurons in the brain.
Epilepsy has no known cause, but may develop because of illness, brain injury and abnormal brain development. People with epilepsy may experience strange sensations, emotions, and behavior along with convulsions, muscle spasms, and even loss of consciousness.
Your doctor will perform physical examination and use other tests to diagnose epilepsy. Your doctor may suggest an Electroencephalogram (EEG) test to check the electrical activity in the brain. An EEG records your brain's electrical activity via electrodes attached to your scalp. People with epilepsy can have irregular electrical activity on their EEG. Scans of the brain, such as a CT scan or MRI scan may also be done.
Epilepsy is usually not cured, but is controlled with anticonvulsant medications. If medications do not work, your doctor may suggest surgery or implanted devices such as vagus nerve stimulators. Some patients with epilepsy may benefit from brain surgery where the abnormal brain cells causing the seizures are removed in order to control the seizures. In some cases, a device called a vagus nerve stimulator (VNS) is implanted underneath the skin of your chest, similar to a heart pacemaker, to control the number of seizures experienced by patients. Some children with epilepsy are recommended to follow a special diet called a ketogenic diet to help prevent seizures.