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What is Complex Partial Epilepsy?

Jacquelyn Gilchrist
Jacquelyn Gilchrist

There are different types of the seizure disorder known as epilepsy. Seizures are physical and behavioral abnormalities that result from a disruption of normal electrical activity in the brain. A patient who has complex partial epilepsy typically suffers from seizures that alter both his memory and his behavior. This condition usually results from problems originating in one of the two temporal lobes of the brain.

In order to comprehend a particular type of epilepsy, it may be helpful for one to understand the spectrum of seizure classification. The two main categories of seizures are partial and generalized. Partial means that only one part of the brain is involved. The four types that are considered generalized appear to involve the entire brain. Depending on the type, generalized events may cause loss of consciousness, twitching, and body shaking.

When people complain of seizures or other neurological symptoms, an EEG study can be done in a hospital to see if there is anything abnormal happening in the patient's brain.
When people complain of seizures or other neurological symptoms, an EEG study can be done in a hospital to see if there is anything abnormal happening in the patient's brain.

Partial epilepsy may be further divided into two categories, based on symptoms. Simple partial seizures can change one's perception of one's environment, they may alter emotions, and they may cause involuntary muscle jerking, as well as dizziness. They do not render the patient unconscious.

On the other hand, complex partial epilepsy can make a patient lose consciousness and engage in nonsensical behavior. This may include walking in circles, twitching, and compulsive hand-rubbing. These seizures can cause the patient to forget events that occurred before or during the episode. One may also experience feelings of deja vu, visual hallucinations, and even smell unpleasant odors. Complex partial epilepsy may also cause fearfulness or uncontrollable laughing.

Patients with complex partial epilepsy may experience loss of consciousness.
Patients with complex partial epilepsy may experience loss of consciousness.

Sometimes, the cause of this condition is never discovered. In some patients, it may be due to head injuries or those sustained while in the womb, called prenatal injuries. Complex partial epilepsy can also be associated with a stroke or heart attack that caused brain damage. Dementia, meningitis, and other diseases may also cause it. Many people who suffer from epilepsy have a family history of the disorder.

The typical course of treatment for complex partial epilepsy begins with medication. A patient may need to try several different drugs, at varying dosages, before a doctor can determine the best one for that individual. If an effective medication is found, the patient should continue to take the drug under the doctor's direction, even if he no longer has seizures. Discontinuing the treatment should only be done under a physician's supervision.

If medication is insufficient to control the seizures, the patient may consider surgery to remove a portion of the brain. Another option is a vagus nerve stimulator, which is implanted underneath the skin. This device sends an electrical pulse to help prevent seizures, however, it will not get rid of seizures entirely. Patients should work with a doctor to develop a treatment plan that works best for them.

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    • When people complain of seizures or other neurological symptoms, an EEG study can be done in a hospital to see if there is anything abnormal happening in the patient's brain.
      By: Tobilander
      When people complain of seizures or other neurological symptoms, an EEG study can be done in a hospital to see if there is anything abnormal happening in the patient's brain.
    • Patients with complex partial epilepsy may experience loss of consciousness.
      By: Photographee.eu
      Patients with complex partial epilepsy may experience loss of consciousness.