Nocturnal Epilepsy

What is nocturnal epilepsy?

Nocturnal epilepsy is a sleep-disrupting disorder of neurotic origin. This nervous breakdown usually occurs in childhood and adolescence and is characterized by short periods during the night. This epilepsy fragments sleep and alters its phases, reducing the benefits of restful sleep due to the hyperactivation of different neuronal groups.

This epilepsy usually manifests itself in the form of hypermotor seizures, seizures with complex movements affecting the trunk and upper extremities. These seizures usually begin abruptly, but leave no symptoms at the end, may occur several in one night and range from one to twenty per week.

Symptoms of nocturnal epilepsy

Nocturnal epilepsy manifests itself in a motor form, with brief and repeated movements of the extremities, as well as the adoption of abnormal postures. These seizures are also often preceded by an aura which may be sensory, psychic or autonomic. Drooling, vomiting or bed-wetting may also occur in nocturnal epilepsy.

During seizures there may be screaming, moaning or grunting, which may be mistaken for nightmares. The sufferer may also get out of bed, which may be mistaken for sleepwalking.

Nocturnal epilepsy is a disorder of neurotic origin that disturbs sleep.

What are the causes of nocturnal epilepsy?

The original cause of the seizures is not known at this time, but appears to be due to changes in the electrical activity of the brain during the stages of sleep. Nocturnal frontal epilepsy is the first to be associated with a genetic cause, specifically with the genes responsible for encoding neuronal nicotinic receptors.

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Can it be prevented?

Epilepsy can be prevented in some cases, but the most important thing is to avoid risk factors. These risk factors are lack of sleep, alcohol intake, very high fever, illegal drugs, stress and flashes of light.

What is the treatment?

The main treatment for nocturnal epilepsy is anticonvulsant drugs such as carbamazepine, valproate, gabapentin or oxcarbazepine. Surgery or vagus nerve stimulation by surgically implanted mechanisms may also be considered.