Are you worried that you might have epilepsy? Maybe you've had frequent bouts of loss of consciousness. Or perhaps family members have noted that you look like you might be having seizures.

Whatever the case may be, know that epilepsy can be a devastating condition. It changes your entire life. With it, you have to plan everything around the possibility of you going unconscious and injuring yourself unintentionally. And in some cases, you may find that you have a high risk of sudden unexpected death in epilepsy.

So, if you think you might have this life-changing condition, take the time to learn more about it. Doing so could end up saving your life.

Defining Epilepsy

To start, you need a strong grasp of what epilepsy is and is not.

What is it?

Epilepsy is a brain disorder that can affect any gender, race, or age. For those who develop it, their brain activity strays away from what’s typically expected. And this change can cause different types of seizures, periods of odd behavior, unusual sensations, and a loss of consciousness.

How does it happen?

There are numerous causes of epilepsy. Some of them include:

• Genetics — Around 30% to 40% of epilepsy happens to people who are born with a mutation in their genes that makes them more prone to the condition.
• Cryptogenic — Unfortunately, at least 50% of epilepsy cases have no easily identifiable cause; these are labeled as cryptogenic.
• Head trauma — Sometimes after a traumatic head injury, epilepsy can develop.
• Brain conditions — Like head trauma, brain damage caused by other conditions like brain tumors can cause epilepsy.
• Prenatal brain damage — If an unborn baby suffers from oxygen deficiencies, poor nutrition, or infection, it can lead to them developing epilepsy.
• Infectious diseases — While not as well known a cause, infectious diseases like meningitis, viral encephalitis, and HIV/AIDs can potentially cause people to get epilepsy.
• Developmental disorders — It seems that those with developmental disorders like autism may also develop epilepsy.

Are there any signs and symptoms to look for?

However it’s caused, epilepsy can display some noticeable signs and symptoms:

• Temporary confusion
• Staring spells
• Uncontrollable jerking movements in both arms and legs
• Loss of consciousness
• Psychological symptoms, such as fear, anxiety, or déjà vu

What is it not?

Okay, so you have a better idea of what epilepsy is. But what doesn’t the disorder cover? Well, epilepsy does not include any of the following:

• Fainting spells — Surprisingly, these can be mistaken for an epilepsy seizure. The reason for this is that fainting spells can actually provoke a certain type of seizure: a convulsive syncope. However, this seizure can be differentiated from an epilepsy seizure through a health-care professional.
• Brain circulation interruption — When your brain’s blood flow becomes restricted, it can sometimes produce similar symptoms to that of epilepsy.
• Low blood sugar or low oxygen — The side effects of either condition can include episodes of confusion, which can look like seizures.
• Migraine headaches — Some people who suffer such headaches might feel confusion for a bit, which can mimic the appearance of a seizure.
• Sleep disorders — Sleep disorders like narcolepsy, sleep apnea, and night terrors can look like seizures at times, but they are an entirely different condition compared to epilepsy.
• Movement disorders — Occasionally movement disorders like nervous tics might look like a seizure is happening. But instead, these disorders are causing simple partial motor seizures.
• Psychological symptoms — Certain conditions like panic attacks, hyperventilation spells, and psychologically-triggered seizures can look like epileptic seizures.

As you can tell, there are a number of conditions out there that can mimic epilepsy seizures. So you may very well be confusing your epilepsy symptoms with another condition.

Getting Epilepsy Diagnosed

To be sure that your epilepsy suspicions are correct, make sure you get a doctor to examine you thoroughly. With their years of health-care knowledge and whatever pertinent medical history, you can provide, the doctor should be able to professionally determine if you have epilepsy or not.

Finding the Right Treatment

If it turns out that you do have epilepsy, there are options out there for you to treat and manage your condition.

Medication

Noted to be the first-choice treatment for some forms of epilepsy by at least one scientific study, LAMICTAL® (lamotrigine ) could be something to ask your doctor about. This medication is typically highly tolerated by patients, and it’s able to effectively treat a number of epileptic conditions. For instance, the previously mentioned scientific study indicates that this treatment help over 88% of the patients who tonic-clonic epilepsy, 71% of the patients who had secondary generalized tonic-clonic epilepsy, 72% of the patients who had complex partial epilepsy, and 81.5% of the patients who had juvenile myoclonic epilepsy.

The main downside is that like any prescription medication in the United States, it’s likely going to be expensive if you go straight to your local brick-and-mortar pharmacy. But luckily, you can minimize the cost.

All you need to do is ship your prescription medication through an international or Canadian pharmacy referral service like Canada Med Stop. This will allow you to connect to licensed pharmacies abroad where prescription medications are typically cheaper compared to ones in the United States.

Therapy

Another form of treatment you should consider is therapy. Because stress can trigger seizures, it's important that you not only take care of your most obvious epileptic symptoms but that you also take care of your mental health. After all, epilepsy can be a hard condition to bear with at most times. So to help manage the stress it brings, try relaxation therapies, such as massage, acupuncture, progressive muscle relaxation, meditation, or deep breathing.

Surgery

If your epilepsy seems to originate from a particular part of your brain, you could also look into surgery. While not considered the first line of treatment, it may be your best option if most anti-seizure medications have failed to help manage your epilepsy. This treatment offers you the chance to be seizure-free by removing the seizure-causing region of your brain. However, that outcome is not guaranteed. You may end up just having reduced epilepsy symptoms.

Staying Positive

As you search for a treatment that suits your epilepsy, you might feel isolated, which can easily turn into extra stress that affects both yourself and your life. But you're not alone. There are many people going through the same condition. More specifically, there are 3.4 million Americans who deal with epilepsy. So look for like-minded comfort from support groups, friends, and families as you continue your search for the right treatment that will keep your epilepsy under control.

Author's Bio: 

Alison Lee is a freelance writer in Vancouver, Canada. She enjoys writing about finance, health and medicine, among other topics.