Free «Life with Epilepsy» Essay Paper
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Epilepsy is a neurologic disorder which may be caused by a number of factors and is manifested in episodes of epileptic seizures that happen one or more times during an individual’s life. According to the statistics, around 65 million people worldwide have the diagnosis of epilepsy (Prasher & Kerr, 2016, p. 17). In spite of the wide prevalence of the condition, patients with epilepsy usually suffer from stigmatization from neighbors, classmates, and employers. Nevertheless, if treated in an appropriate way, individuals may become active participants of social life, sports and educational activities. People suffering from epilepsy face difficulties connected with their health, experience fears and misunderstanding, which changes significantly their lifestyle and behavior; however, currently available diagnostic and therapeutic possibilities can improve their condition and quality of life.
Challenges Connected with Epilepsy
Difficulties in Reaching the Diagnosis
Nowadays, thanks to significant development of imaging, genetic, and biochemical methods, establishing the diagnosis for most diseases became easier. However, epilepsy is a complicated condition, and its diagnosis demands considerable attention and time from a physician (Prasher & Kerr, 2016, p. 9). Even when the diagnosis is reached, it may be difficult to determine epilepsy type or its causative factor, which are important for preparing the treatment plan (Prasher & Kerr, 2016, p. 10). The differential diagnosis of epilepsy includes at least two unprovoked seizures with an interval of more than 24 hours or one reflex seizure during the next 10 years after the previous two reflex seizures (Prasher & Kerr, 2016, p. 10). In most cases, the first seizures do not occur at hospital or in the presence of a physician. The description of what was happening is usually provided by relatives or witnesses, which makes it difficult to establish the diagnosis of epilepsy, especially when seizures occur for the first time. Nevertheless, making the right diagnosis and determining the causative factor of seizures is a key to improving patient’s quality of life. Unfortunately, patients with epilepsy face other challenges apart from those connected with making the diagnosis.
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Side Effects of Anticonvulsive Medication
Since epilepsy is a chronic disease, medication intake to control seizures is the primary obvious implication. Although medications and their forms are constantly improving, they still cause numerous side effects. Negative experience connected with pills intake affects an individual’s quality of life. Side effects may appear soon after medication intake or later as a result of a cumulative effect of their intake. For instance, there are numerous complaints from patients about nausea after anticonvulsive pills intake (Leppik, 2010, p. 75). Dyspeptic signs affect a person’s appetite and mood, which may further lead to digestion and nutrition impairment. Delayed side effects of epilepsy are more prominent: they are related to an individual’s psychiatric status and reproductive function. Thus, anticonvulsant drugs lead to apathy, disorientation and personality changes. They also have a teratogenic effect, which means that consumption of anti-seizure drugs in pregnant women may cause a prenatal pathology (Leppik, 2010, p. 151). As most seizures occur because of central nervous system hyperactivity against irritants, most of the drugs cause CNS depression and light sedation (Leppik, 2010, p. 76). Patients treated for epilepsy present with studying disabilities and behavioral disorders, hallucinations, psychosis, and deep depression, which may lead to stigmatization and avoidance by other society members. The features listed above cause more or less remarkable changes in a patient’s personality, which is an important point for consideration.
Impact of Epilepsy on Lifestyle
Epilepsy poses the most serious challenges to young people. Childhood and adolescence is a period when social development of a person is formed. The earlier the first seizures occur, the more malignant course of the disease is anticipated. Seizures during epilepsy episodes can cause loss of consciousness and involuntary urination. The book by Brian P. Lund (2013) My Life with Epilepsy and Seizures shows numerous social limitations connected with epilepsy that the author had suffered from since childhood. The author writes about personal experience of being teased by classmates and schoolmates that were connected with peeing during seizures (Lund, 2013, p. 12). Another adverse impact reported by Lund is strained relations with parents and other family members caused by medications’ side effects, which make patients emotionally unstable (Lund, 2013, p. 16). The author uses a special manner to provide information: he gives a wealth of details about events, which disrupts the flow of narration. Such a manner of writing may also be related to personality changes caused by the disease. The view of seizures often scares people or becomes a reason for cruel jokes, which makes epilepsy patients decrease their social activity and cry for tolerance from the environment. These aims may be reached by improving the healthcare for epilepsy patients and breaking the informational barrier.
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Advancements in Care for Patients with Epilepsy
Several investigations are performed to confirm clinical signs of seizures and to establish the diagnosis of epilepsy. The most frequently used test for all patients with seizures is electroencephalography (EEG). The method has been used for many years even though it has several disadvantages and inaccuracies. However, EEG recording has improved, and now it is possible to perform 24-hour video-assisted records for complicated clinical cases (Spencer, 2016, p. 105). Other progressive methods used during the differential diagnosis of seizures are computed tomography and magnetic resonance tomography. These methods allow indicating several brain changes that may cause seizures (Spencer, 2016, p. 100). Other tests are performed to control the medication effects. For instance, blood biochemistry is used to assess the level of liver ferments, which may increase during drug treatment (Spencer, 2016, p. 94). There are also investigations that show individual sensitivity to drug therapy. The concentration of the drug’s active substance may be measured, and according to the results, personal dosage may be modified (Spencer, 2016, p. 93). The investigations listed above assist physicians to reach the diagnosis as early as possible and chose the most effective therapy and medication doses for each patient individually. The choice of appropriate treatment will reduce side effects and improve the patient’s mental health. Furthermore, provision of patients and their relatives with information about the disease can increase the results achieved by using the methods listed above.
A commonly used method that can improve the patient’s outcome is educational conversations. Such method is successfully used by physicians for fighting many diseases. The paper Epilepsy Across the Spectrum: Promoting Health and Understanding by the members of the Committee on the Public Health Dimensions of Epilepsies proposes several patient-centered educational tactics (England, Liverman, Schulty, & Strawbridge, 2012, p. 329). The primary and most effective one is family education (England et al., 2012, p. 329). It allows informing all the people who contact with a patient with epilepsy on a daily basis about how to act to prevent life-threatening events and gain a better understanding of the patient’s special needs.
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It is also necessary to divide patients according to their special needs and educate them in a different manner. The categories of patients that require special consideration are newborns, adolescents, women and elderly people (England et al., 2012, pp. 335-340). Education for elderly population should be focused on side effects because they suffer from them more frequently (England et al., 2012, pp. 337-338). Women need to be informed of teratogen effects of anticonvulsive therapy and the need to avoid oral contraceptives because they increase tissues hydrophilicity and may decrease the effect of anticonvulsive drugs (England et al., 2012, p. 336). According to England et al. (2012), epilepsy patients are more likely to receive information directly from their healthcare provider. However, publically accessible brochures and thematic web pages also increase patient’s knowledge about the disease. Disease-oriented educational implications will make patients more self-confident and full society members and facilitate managing the condition.
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Epilepsy is a widely spread neurological disease that affects all age and gender groups. Being a chronic condition, epilepsy affects all aspects of patients’ private and social life, impacts their lifestyle and behavior. Patients with seizures become a complicated clinical case for physician. It is often difficult to reach the diagnosis and choose effective treatment for epilepsy patients. However, thanks to several methods becoming available, the diagnostic process is improved. It becomes possible to establish an individual’s diagnosis with higher accuracy. For instance, measuring blood concentration of anticonvulsive medications enables a physician to choose individual dose for a particular patient to decrease the number of side effects. Socialization is also impaired in patients with seizures. People with epilepsy often become victims of stigmatization and cruelty from their social groups. Physician’s actions play a prominent role in improving the life of a patient with epilepsy. Provision of appropriate and detailed information for patients and their relatives can improve overall epilepsy care, prevent life-threatening events and help the patient to achieve the highest potential for regaining their health. Epilepsy is a challenge for the community, and people suffering from the condition need tolerance and kindheartedness from all its members.
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