Types Of Epilepsy

Epilepsy Information 2012

Viewing The Types of Epilepsy

As a means of categorizing the many types of epilepsy as observed in documented medical cases, doctors naturally use a two-criterion classification system. The first criterion deals with the identification of a likely cause for the epileptic episode and further categorize it as a idiopathic, symptomatic or cryptogenic type of epilepsy.

Idiopathic cases have no identified cause for the episodes; cryptogenic cases have a suspected but unverified cause, while symptomatic cases means that a root cause has already been tagged.

The second criterion deals with the area of the brain from where the seizures are originating and easily fall into two classes: general and partial. General cases affect the whole brain while partial seizures are limited to specific brain areas leaving other areas free from seizures.

From this classification system, the different types of epilepsy are born. The four most common and the ones that you are likely going to hear your doctor talk about are idiopathic general epilepsy, idiopathic partial epilepsy, symptomatic general epilepsy and symptomatic partial epilepsy. Cryptogenic cases are intermediate classifications given as doctors try to conclusively determine the exact trigger that ushers the onset of an epileptic episode.

Idiopathic general epilepsy refers to a condition affecting the whole brain but has yet to be connected to a specific cause. In a variety of medical cases, the idiopathic general variety is known to closely correlate with familial epileptic bouts and is typically local to certain phases of childhood. With these types of epilepsy, patients are capable of functioning in a normal manner and their intelligence tests will reveal standard results with no clue for an underlying condition.

Because these cases are general in nature, finding a more common cause is not always possible, hence general medication is employed as a means to control and treat the condition. In the absence of noticeable structural abnormalities to the brain, patients are likely to grow out of most types of epilepsy as they age, thus the typical correlation of this case being limited to certain childhood phases.

Following the idiopathic general case are idiopathic partial epilepsy cases which are mild and rarely disruptive. There are no significant documented cases in adults, which helps to reinforce the theory that this case is specific to children. The non-disruptive nature of the disease is because the seizures in idiopathic types of epilepsy are largely minor episodes of temporary motor control loss and not of the violently convulsive variety.

Symptomatic general and partial cases present the more serious types of epilepsy which require extensive medication, therapy and are likely to not be outgrown by the patient. In the general case, the brain is typically deformed or damaged by any number of factors helping to explain the increased correlation of mental retardation, cerebral palsy and epilepsy as closely connected diseases. Seizures in these cases are violent and extend beyond motor control loss to include memory problems, blackouts and unresponsiveness.

In the partial cases, small areas of brain damage normally lead to bouts with epilepsy and these types of epilepsy are the ones typically observed in adults. Treatment methods logically follow the cause of the illness making partial cases treatable as long as they do not cover a wide enough area of the brain that cannot be operated on. However, surgery is highly risky and in most cases, medications are inadequate to control partial epilepsy cases.

When confronted with a specific case, look to have a doctor conduct a thorough analysis of which of the types of epilepsy is being experienced by the patient. Treatment methods for epilepsy are not 100% effective all the time but with careful diagnosis, doctors can dramatically improve the chances of a cure for any specific disease.

The good news is extensive research is being done everyday and treatment techniques will get better as new discoveries are made. Also, with correct treatment and patient cooperation most types of epilepsy can be kept under control and episodes kept to a minimum.