Sunday December 8, 2019

Stress may trigger a form of Reflex Epilepsy and increase the risk of its Development

Epilepsy is a disorder in which nerve cell activity in the brain is disturbed, causing seizures

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A person suffering from Headache

New York, April 4, 2017: For people suffering with epilepsy, facing stressful events such as the war, trauma or natural disaster, or the death of a loved one, may act as a common trigger for seizures, a study has found.

Epilepsy is a disorder in which nerve cell activity in the brain is disturbed, causing seizures.

The findings showed that higher anxiety levels in patients with epilepsy reported stress as a seizure trigger.

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Stress can not only increase seizure susceptibility and in rare cases a form of reflex epilepsy, but also increase the risk of the development of epilepsy, especially when stressors are severe, prolonged, or experienced early in life, the researchers said.

“Stress is a subjective and highly individualised state of mental or emotional strain. Although it’s quite clear that stress is an important and common seizure precipitant, it remains difficult to obtain objective conclusions about a direct causal factor for individual epilepsy patients,” said Heather McKee, Assistant Professor at the University of Cincinnati.

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For the study, appearing in the journal Seizure, the team looked at 21 studies from the 1980s to present — from patients who kept diaries of stress levels and correlation of seizure frequency, to tracking seizures after major life events, to fMRI studies that looked at responses to stressful verbal/auditory stimuli.

Most of the studies showed increases in seizure frequency after high-stress events such as the war, trauma or natural disaster, or the death of a loved one.

Adopting stress reduction techniques “could improve overall quality of life and reduce seizure frequency at little to no risk,” the researchers noted.

Some low risk stress reduction techniques may include controlled deep breathing, relaxation or mindfulness therapy, as well as exercise, or establishing routines. (IANS)

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WHO: Millions of People with Epilepsy Reluctant to Seek Treatment Because of Stigma

Nearly 50 million people around the world suffer from epilepsy

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epilepsy
Nearly 50 million people around the world suffer from epilepsy. The World Health Organization reports this neurological disease affects people of all ages in all walks of life. VOA

The World Health Organization says millions of people with epilepsy are reluctant to seek treatment because of the stigma attached to their ailment, leading to the premature death of many.  WHO has released the first global report on epilepsy.

Nearly 50 million people around the world suffer from epilepsy.  The World Health Organization reports this neurological disease affects people of all ages in all walks of life.  It says this brain disease can cause seizures and sometimes loss of awareness.

Program Manager in WHO’s Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse, Tarun Dua says people with epilepsy suffer widespread stigma and discrimination as a consequence of their unusual behavior.

epilepsy
Low doses of topiramate may also increase the risk of oral clefts but to a lesser extent. Wikimedia Commons

“So, in many settings, people with epilepsy they are embarrassed…children are not allowed to go to school, adults are not allowed to work, sometimes not even marry or the right to drive is also not there,” said Dua. “So, these stigma and human rights violations and sometimes also the death that is associated with epilepsy—so premature mortality in epilepsy is three times that of the general population.”

Causes of epilepsy include injury around the time of birth, brain infections from illnesses such meningitis or encephalitis and stroke.  WHO estimates 25 percent of cases are preventable.

Dua says early death among people with epilepsy in low and middle-income countries is significantly higher than in wealthy countries.  She says the stigma associated with epilepsy is a main factor preventing people from seeking treatment.

epilepsy
The World Health Organization reports this neurological disease affects people of all ages in all walks of life. Wikimedia Commons

She says low cost, effective medication to treat the disease is largely unavailable in poor countries as are the number of specialists competent to deal with this brain disorder.

ALSO READ: Researchers Identify Gene Associated with Sudden Death in Epilepsy

“For example, if you look in low and middle-income countries, there is only one neurologist per one million population,” Dua said. “Now, that is definitely insufficient to provide care for all people with epilepsy.  What it means is that we need the non-specialists, the primary care doctors to take care for people with epilepsy.”

Dua says WHO has the tools and evidence-based guidelines that show epilepsy can be successfully treated in primary health care.  She says pilot programs introduced in Ghana, Mozambique, Myanmar, and Vietnam are making huge inroads in closing the epilepsy treatment gap. (VOA)