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General epilepsy is a neurological condition, which affects the nervous system. This is also known as a seizure disorder. But Juvenile myoclonic epilepsy is a different type of epilepsy.

Symptoms: Juvenile myoclonic epilepsy (JME) is an epilepsy syndrome characterized by a myoclonic seizure sometimes followed by tonic-clonic seizure and then absence seizure. Myoclonic seizures are brief, shock like jerk of a muscle or a group of muscles. Myo means muscles and clonus means rapidly alternating contraction and relaxation of a muscle. During tonic-clonic seizure all the muscles stiffen, air being forced through the vocal cord, causing a cry or groan. The person loses consciousness and falls to the floor. The tongue or cheek may be bitten. The person may turn a bit blue. The arms and legs begin to jerk rapidly. After 1-3 minutes jerking slows and stops. Consciousness returns slowly.

People with JME have myoclonic seizure usually in the early morning soon after awakening. The myoclonic jerks sometimes followed by tonic-clonic seizure. JME develops in late childhood, around puberty. Sometimes those children who suffer from childhood absence epilepsy later develop JME. Childhood absence epilepsy is curable but once JME is developed lifelong medication is required. It is not curable.

Exact cause of JME is unknown though it is not associated with any condition of brain, like head trauma, brain tumour etc. In individuals with JME few reasons can provoke seizure.

  • Sleep deprivation
  • Psychological stress
  • Alcohol and drugs
  • Non compliance of medication.
  • Photic stimulation such as  flickering light, TV, Video games etc.
  • Menses.
  • Sometimes due to stress of decision making, calculation etc.

JME often have a genetic basis. Nevertheless most of the children in these families do not develop epilepsy.

Confirm diagnosis is done by EEG. CT and MRI scan are seldom necessary. A physician can diagnose it accurately by asking questions regarding the person’s medical history and family history. Taking the right combination  and right dosage of medicines throughout the life can keep the seizures under control.

One thing that should be taken care of is that after starting treatment there is no side effect, otherwise it can be dangerous. Proper medication throughout the life can prevent frequent seizures or even can prevent seizures totally. So it is possible to live a normal life.