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Epilepsy is a brain disorder that causes people to have recurring seizures. The seizures happen when clusters of nerve cells, or neurons, in the brain send out the wrong signals. People may have strange sensations and emotions or behave strangely. They may have violent muscle spasms or lose consciousness.
Epilepsy has many possible causes, including illness, brain injury, and abnormal brain development. In many cases, the cause is unknown.
Doctors use brain scans and other tests to diagnose epilepsy. It is important to start treatment right away. There is no cure for epilepsy, but medicines can control seizures for most people. When medicines are not working well, surgery or implanted devices such as vagus nerve stimulators may help. Special diets can help some children with epilepsy.
NIH: National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
Lennox-Gastaut syndrome is a form of severe epilepsy that begins in childhood. It is characterized by multiple types of seizures and intellectual disability.People with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome begin having frequent seizures in early childhood, usually between ages 3 and 5. More than three-quarters of affected individuals have tonic seizures, which cause the muscles to stiffen (contract) uncontrollably. These seizures occur most often during sleep. Also common are atypical absence seizures, which cause a partial or complete loss of consciousness. Additionally, many affected individuals have drop attacks, which are sudden episodes of weak muscle tone. Drop attacks can result in falls that cause serious or life-threatening injuries. Other types of seizures have been reported less frequently in people with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome.Most of the seizures associated with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome are very brief. However, more than two-thirds of affected individuals experience at least one prolonged period of seizure activity known as nonconvulsive status epilepticus. These episodes can cause confusion and a loss of alertness lasting from hours to weeks.Almost all children with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome develop learning problems and intellectual disability associated with their frequent seizures. Because the seizures associated with this condition are difficult to control with medication, the intellectual disability tends to worsen with time. Some affected children develop additional neurological abnormalities and behavioral problems. Many also have delayed development of motor skills such as sitting and crawling. As a result of their seizures and progressive intellectual disability, most people with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome require help with some or all of the usual activities of daily living. However, a small percentage of affected adults live independently.People with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome have an increased risk of death compared to their peers of the same age. Although the increased risk is not fully understood, it is partly due to poorly controlled seizures and injuries from falls.