Epilepsy

For a life without seizures

In the human brain, our thinking, moving, feeling and perception are created by the interaction of approx. 20 billion nerve cells. All these functions of the brain can be disturbed individually or in combination during an epileptic seizure. Often, only one particular movement is observed from the outside. The disturbance of sensory perception or the consciousness can only be indicated by the person affected in individual cases. 

However, epilepsy responds well to treatment and can be healed in many cases.

Our neurologists at Schoen Clinic specialise in the treatment of epilepsy. Using effective methods, we help you to achieve a better quality of life. 

Causes & symptoms

Epilepsy – what is it exactly?

Epilepsy is a chronic disease that originates in the brain and can occur at any age, but especially in childhood. A large proportion of childhood epilepsies stop automatically with puberty. 

In all epilepsies, epileptic seizures occur from time to time without any apparent cause. These are caused by sudden, short-term dysfunctions of the brain. 5% of all people experience an epileptic seizure once in a lifetime. However, in most cases, they do not have epilepsy, but what is known as an occasional seizure. 

As a rule, epileptic seizures last a few seconds or minutes and stop on their own without treatment. A seizure rarely lasts longer than 20 minutes (“seizure status”).

One only speaks of epilepsy when at least two epileptic seizures have occurred that were not triggered by an immediately preceding recognisable cause. 

There are two groups of seizures:

  • Focal seizures
    They only affect a part of the brain, consciousness remains intact 
  • Generalised seizures
    They encompass both halves of the brain at the same time, consciousness is lost

What is known as a secondarily generalised seizure begins in one region of the brain and spreads to the entire brain. In such a case, the affected person can often remember the beginning of the seizure. In order to make the right treatment decision, it is important to know the exact course of the seizure.

Causes: How does epilepsy develop?

Every brain can react with a seizure if it is intensively stimulated, for example by high fever, fatigue or a brain injury. Poisoning, inflammation or alcohol can also trigger a seizure.

In epilepsy, i.e. repeated seizures without recognisable triggers, damage or inflammation of the brain are possible causes. Disturbances of brain maturation during pregnancy or birth complications can also be causes. In adolescents and young adults, accidents and brain tumours are at the fore as epilepsy causes. In adults and older people, circulatory disorders, strokes and degradation processes in the brain play a primary role. The causes of epilepsy often remain unclear.

Recent research indicates that epilepsy can also be inherited. 

Symptoms: Indications of epilepsy

There are various indications of epilepsy. These can also change over the course of the disease. 

Frequent signs:

  • Short breaks in consciousness
  • Sudden twitching of the body in infants
  • Facial convulsions and speech difficulties in childhood
  • Unconsciousness, stiffness, twitching of arms and legs
  • Febrile convulsions
  • Especially in children: Specific learning disabilities, severe behavioural or intelligence disorders, speech loss

Diagnostics

Diagnosis: How we diagnose epilepsy

For an exact diagnosis, we have a detailed discussion with you, during which a detailed description of the seizure is of particular importance to us. In addition, there are various neurological examinations. 

Neurological examinations

Part of our investigation spectrum:

  • Electroencephalography (EEG): Measurement of the brain’s electrical curve 
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): Measurement in a strong electromagnetic field
  • Positron emission tomography (PET) and single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT): Measurement of brain blood flow and brain metabolism through the administration of radioactive substances 
  • Blood tests 
  • Lumbar puncture: Removal of cerebrospinal fluid to exclude other diseases that can also trigger a seizure
  • Epilepsy monitoring: an EEG is taken 24 hours x 8 days, a video camera also records the seizures