The Detrimental Effects of Epilepsy on Your Brain Health and Body
Epilepsy is far more than just seizures. This neurological disorder that affects almost 3 million Americans and 1 in 26 people is still something that baffles the health and medical industry for one simple reason: nobody knows what exactly causes it.
You would think that since epilepsy is one of the most widely known and common disorders concerning the nervous system by now, we’ll have a clear etiology. There are many known causes, but scientists are still trying to figure out and understand epilepsy.
According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, anything that disrupts the normality of connections between neurons in the brain can trigger a seizure. This disruption can come from high fever, too low and too high levels of blood sugar, too much alcohol in the system, withdrawal from drugs, and, ultimately, a brain concussion. Seizures under these circumstances can happen once or more. An occurrence of more than two seizures, however, rules it as epilepsy.
Many things can cause epileptic seizures.
Doctors and health specialists have looked into head injuries, brain damage, or traumatic injuries caused by illness or fall, neurochemical imbalance, mass growth, blood vessel blockage, and even genetics as possible causes of epilepsy. Often, seizures can occur with no known cause. This unknown is what makes epilepsy a puzzle that remains unsolved.
If one or both of your parents have epilepsy, your chances of getting this disorder may be slightly higher than others. It’s also notable that epilepsy is more common in children and older people. Yet, anyone can develop this condition at any point in their life.
What makes epilepsy a matter of worry?
Epileptic seizures can also have a significant impact on the human body. The brain is the most affected organ since epilepsy is a neurological disorder. According to several tests, seizures, no matter how brief or isolated, can still have adverse effects on brain functionalities and the death of brain cells. Moreover, prolonged seizures can sustain more severe brain injuries.
Additionally, several nervous system functions also suffer in the event of epileptic seizures. Breathing, the pacing of heartbeat, and digestion can be primarily affected by seizures through heart palpitations, irregular heartbeat, difficulty breathing, including pauses in between breaths, sweating, abdominal pains, nausea, and vomiting, and ultimately unconsciousness.
But there’s more
Since epilepsy targets the central nervous system, other systems responsible for bodily functions may be burdened. Aside from the cardiovascular, respiratory, and nervous systems, the muscular, skeletal, and reproductive systems may exhibit a compromised state due to epileptic seizures.
Hormonal changes caused by epilepsy may result in reproduction problems for both men and women. Low levels of testosterone and decreased sex drive are said to be a consequence of having the condition. Epilepsy can also create problems in a woman’s menstrual cycle.
What you can do about epilepsy
Since it’s hard to predict whether you’re susceptible to epilepsy, what you can do is a general preventive measure based on the usual causes. First, try to get as much sleep every night as possible. Refrain from taking alcohol, illegal drugs, and smoking. You are most likely to have a seizure if you’re under the influence of these and are prone to seizures.
While you cannot avoid catching colds or getting the flu, take care of yourself so that you are less likely to get sick. During sports or extreme activities, make sure that you are wearing a helmet or any protective gear for your head so that you don’t sustain head injuries.
Keto and seizures
The best diet for brain health: the ketogenic diet. The ketogenic diet was initially developed in the early 1920s to treat seizures and neurological conditions. Researchers started the ketogenic diet with pediatric patients. Within three months of a strict ketogenic diet, 34 percent of the study participants experienced a 90 percent decrease in seizures. Ketones produced on a keto diet are neuroprotective. The brain prefers ketones over glucose as a primary source of fuel.
The research surrounding keto and the brain are still new. But the research that has been done shows hope that the keto diet can be an excellent complementary treatment method.
Learn more about ketones, ketosis, and fasting with Beyond Fasting!
D'Andrea Meira, Isabella et al. “Ketogenic Diet and Epilepsy: What We Know So Far.” Frontiers in neuroscience vol. 13 5. 29 Jan. 2019, doi:10.3389/fnins.2019.00005
Zhang, Yifan et al. “The Anticonvulsant Effects of Ketogenic Diet on Epileptic Seizures and Potential Mechanisms.” Current neuropharmacology vol. 16,1 (2018): 66-70. doi:10.2174/1570159X15666170517153509
Barañano, Kristin W, and Adam L Hartman. “The ketogenic diet: uses in epilepsy and other neurologic illnesses.” Current treatment options in neurology vol. 10,6 (2008): 410-9. doi:10.1007/s11940-008-0043-8