Of the many types of epilepsies identified by doctors and neurologists, idiopathic epilepsy comes across as one of the hardest to diagnose and treat. At its core, a patient suffering from idiopathic epilepsy will have no apparent structural abnormality in the brain to suggest the cause of the seizures. For this reason, doctors take a good deal of time in isolating the condition, and then subsequently prescribing the right brand of treatment to make sure that the epilepsy is eventually treated and managed in the best way possible.
Diagnosing idiopathic epilepsy begins when a patient walks in for a check-up and doctors run a battery of diagnostic test to isolate the cause. These tests often include a comprehensive medical history of the patient and the immediate family to try and determine potential genetic and environmental causes. Doctors will also rely heavily on sophisticated imaging equipment to peer into the patient’s brain to find any obvious abnormality that triggers the seizures.
When diagnostic imaging techniques come up empty, doctors will begin to rely on the medical history for more substantive proof that the specific case at hand can really be classified as idiopathic epilepsy. Genetic inheritance can be one of the more obvious giveaways; if one or both parents suffered through unexplained seizures in the past, genetics is the most likely cause. The same can be said if members of the parent’s family suffer from epilepsy with the gene inherited by the patient paving the way for the seizures.
The treatment will often depend on the exact nature of the idiopathic epilepsy. For this, doctors rely on more sophisticated diagnostic tests to gain a much clearer picture of the symptoms in order to make the right classification. The most common sub-types include benign myoclonic epilepsy in infants, generalized epilepsy with febrile seizures, epilepsy with myoclonic absences, those with myoclonic-astatic seizures, and a few others specific to children. The part of the brain in which the seizures originate as well as the specific manifesting symptoms helps cement the classification applicable to the case being observed.
Because of the absence of any structural abnormality to suggest an immediate cause, doctors will often rely on medication to treat the condition. The specific case forms the ultimate basis for which medication is most suitable. However, doctors may have to experiment with doses at the onset to determine what is most effective. It is for this reason that early diagnosis of idiopathic epilepsy is important as cases affecting younger individuals tends to be more responsive to medication even in low doses.
The seriousness of idiopathic epilepsy coupled with the absence of an immediate giveaway make this type of seizure a serious challenge for doctors. Thankfully, developments in medical science have helped push the knowledge bubble forward allowing doctors to more effectively treat various cases. It can only be hoped that a more comprehensive approach to addressing the underlying genetic cause of idiopathic epilepsy can be developed to prevent the condition before it even manifests. Until then, what we have today counts as the best thing in the fight against idiopathic epilepsy.