Epilepsy is one of the most widespread diseases of the central nervous system which represents a very serious medical and social problem. Epilepsy is a brain disease which is characterized with episodes of motional, sensitive, vegetative and cogitative functional disorders (seizures). A single seizure is not referred to epilepsy. Only repeated and unprovoked convulsive attacks can be considered as epilepsy. In epilepsy the seizures are spontaneous and always occur suddenly without any external causes. Seizures caused by a high temperature (febrile seizures) or fright are not related to epilepsy.
The causes of epilepsy depends on age. In infants the most common and frequent causes include oxygen deficit during pregnancy (hypoxia), birth defects of the brain and congenital infections (herpes, hives, сytomegaly, toxoplasmosis). There are also forms of epilepsy with hereditary predisposition (juvenile myoclonic epilepsy). The risk of epilepsy is especially high in families with intermarriage and Ugro-Finnic population.
Epilepsy is usually caused by the spontaneous hyperactivity of the neurons (brain cells). During a seizure the hyperactivity of the brain cells is 6-7 times higher than normal. This hyperactivity is usually related to dysfunction of sodium channels, imbalance of neurotransmitter such as GABA, glutamate and others.
In some cases epilepsy occurs in patients after strokes and brain’s trauma. Probably the reason of this lies in abnormal neurons connections (brain wiring). Neurons receive wrong impulses which cause their hyperactivity.
Some studies show that the cells membrane which surrounds neurons are important in generation of electrical impulses. The disruption in the formation and structure of the neurons may be closely related to epileptic seizures.
In some cases, epilepsy may be related to changes in non-neuronal cells called glia. These cells work by regulating the amount of neurotransmitter in the brain.