Epilepsy is a disorder of the brain characterized by seizures. There are more than 40 different types of epilepsies which are categorized into 2 groups; generalized onset epilepsies and partial onset epilepsies. Temporal lobe epilepsy is a type of partial onset epilepsy. Partial onset epilepsies are also known as localization related or focal epilepsies.
As the name suggests,lobe epilepsy is epilepsy that arises from either one of the two temporal lobes, the lateral temporal lobe (Lateral Temporal Lobe Epilepsy or LTLE) or the medial temporal lobe (Medial Temporal Lobe Epilepsy or MTLE). In some cases, the seizures originate from both of the temporal lobes. This is mainly because of the strong connections between the two temporal lobes. If only one of the temporal lobes is involved in the seizure, the seizure is referred to as a simple partial seizure and will typically not result in loss of awareness. When both the medial and lateral temporal lobes are involved in the seizure, there will be loss of awareness and this type of seizure is referred to as a complex partial seizure. A complex partial seizure may result in memory loss.
Temporal lobe epilepsy, also known as psychomotor epilepsy, is the most common type of epilepsy. And in turn, the medial temporal lobe epilepsy is the most common. Medial temporal lobe epilepsy is quite often drug resistant and in most cases doctors consider brain surgery as a viable treatment option.
There is no exact known cause for lobe epilepsy but it is thought to be caused by an infection in the brain such as in diseases like meningitis, herpes encephalitis, or as a result of a brain injury, or vascular malformations and malignancies. There has also been suggestion of a genetic link in this type of epilepsy.
The prevalence of temporal lobe epilepsy is not exactly known as not everybody who is thought to have this type of epilepsy has their diagnosis confirmed using video-electroencephalography. However, this epilepsy is thought to occur equally amongst the sexes. Females have been shown to experience seizures more frequently due to hormonal influences during their menstrual period. This is referred to as catamenial epilepsy. This type of epilepsy and other types of epilepsy can occur at any age.
Symptoms of temporal lobe epilepsy will vary depending on the region of the brain the seizures originate, and the type of seizure experienced, whether simple partial seizures, complex partial seizures or secondarily generalized tonic clonic seizures (SGTCS) sometimes referred to as grand mal seizures. Grand mal seizures start from the temporal lobe but spread to the whole brain. The seizures last anything from half a minute to 3 minutes. Grand mal seizures are accompanied by convulsions and loss of consciousness. Other symptoms include lip smacking, restless finger movements, staring and repetitive swallowing.