West Syndrome is a brain disorder that has a patient experience repeated and severe seizures and convulsions over a long period of time. The seizures themselves are episodes of disturbed and disordered brain activity that changes patterns in attention or behavior, and significantly affects the brain chemistry of the patient. Most typically, it affects infants and newborns more than young adults and older people, and can disproportionately harm those who are very young with undeveloped and under-developed immune systems.
West Syndrome is not a very well-known disease, though not incredibly common, and can lead to certain quality of life issues like trouble driving, operating machinery, and doing other tasks that require concentration and focus. The seizure risk for some of these issues is too great to allow for a patient with West Syndrome to do some of these tasks. With medication, though, people who are affected by West Syndrome can live completely full, happy, normal and well-adjusted lives.
Causes of West Syndrome
West Syndrome has a great deal of causes, from issues like risk factors in the brain that makes a patient too excitable or jumpy, to abnormal signals that exemplify themselves as repeated seizures and more. Because there are so many causes of West Syndrome, there is some doubt as to where it starts and how it is caused in the brain.
Common causes of West Syndrome include stroke, dementia, traumatic brain injury, infections like brain abscesses, meningitis, brain problems that are present at birth, brain tumors, abnormal blood vessels in the brain, illnesses that damage and destroy brain tissues, and even the use of certain medications like antidepressants, and narcotics like cocaine and amphetamines.
West Syndrome seizures typically present themselves to people who are between 1 and 5 years old, but they can happen at any age and to any person. There may often be family histories of West Syndrome and seizures present, too, though most typically it affects those who are younger and have major issues with their health as young people moving forward.
Symptoms of West Syndrome
Symptoms will tend to vary widely from patient to patient. Some patients may experience very simple staring spells that seem almost like nothing. Still other patients go through periods where they have violent shaking, and loss of consciousness from very strong seizures. The type, severity and intensity of each epileptic person’s seizure depends on the area and region of the brain that is affected by the seizure itself, as well as the specific cause of West Syndrome.
For many patients much of the time, current epileptic seizures are similar to the prior ones in intensity and scope. Some patients who experience West Syndrome can also experience a strange sensation, which can sometimes include tingling, smelling an odor that isn’t actually there, and even behavioral and emotional changes, before each seizure.