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Common Epilepsy Treatment Options

Epilepsy is a common long-term or chronic disease that leads to repeated seizures because of abnormal electrical signals generated by damaged brain cells. Bursts of uncontrolled electrical activity in the brain cells cause seizures. These seizures can comprise changes to the patient’s awareness, sensations, muscle control, emotions and behavior. Epilepsy is also known as seizure disorder and it may affect anyone of any age, race or gender. Prompt epilepsy treatment is crucial for patients. Read along to learn about the common symptoms and epileptic treatment strategies.    

Epilepsy Symptoms

Patients may suffer from varying degrees of symptoms and this would usually depend on the kind of seizure. It is based on these symptoms that relevant epilepsy treatment would be needed. To know about the best treatment options for epilepsy, follow DocTubeTM. Some of the most common warning signs and symptoms of epilepsy may include the following:

  • Jerking movements of arms and legs

  • Stiffening of the body

  • Staring

  • Loss of consciousness

  • Breathing problems or sudden stopping of breathing

  • Loss of bladder or bowel control 

  • Falling suddenly for no apparent reason, specifically when the patient loses consciousness

  • Appearing confused or in a haze

  • Not responding to words or noise for brief periods of time

  • Periods of staring and rapid eye blinking 

In many cases, the patient’s lips may become bluish and his movements may be abnormal (Kanner, A.M., Soto, A. and Gross-Kanner, H., 2004. Prevalence and clinical characteristics of postictal psychiatric symptoms in partial epilepsy. Neurology, 62(5), pp.708-713). His movement may often be followed by a period of disorientation or sleep. It is essential to consult a healthcare professional for prompt diagnosis as the symptoms of epilepsy may often resemble other medical conditions and problems. Relevant and proper epilepsy treatment is imperative for patients.

Epilepsy Triggers

Epilepsy triggers are certain events that happen before the onset of a seizure. Some of the most common epilepsy triggers may include the following:

  • Illness, fever

  • Stress

  • Recreational drug use, alcohol use or alcohol withdrawal

  • Sleep issues such as not getting enough sleep, not sleeping well, being over exhausted, disrupted sleep as well as sleep disorders like sleep apnea (Balamurugan, E., Aggarwal, M., Lamba, A., Dang, N. and Tripathi, M., 2013. Perceived trigger factors of seizures in persons with epilepsy. Seizure, 22(9), pp.743-747)

  • Flashing lights or patterns

  • Hormonal changes

  • Physical overexertion

  • Skipping meals or not eating healthy and balanced meals

  • Vitamin and mineral deficiencies 

  • Dehydration

  • Specific foods. For example, caffeine is known to be a common trigger

  • Missed anti-seizure medication doses

Epilepsy Diagnosis

Epilepsy diagnosis initially includes testing the brain activity of patients. Tests like EEG (electroencephalogram) or brain scan help to detect existing problems within the brain. EEG is done to check for any unusual electrical activity within the brain that is common in people suffering from epilepsy (Smith, S.J., 2005. EEG in the diagnosis, classification, and management of patients with epilepsy. Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry, 76(suppl 2), pp.ii2-ii7). During this test, small sensors are attached to a person’s scalp to examine the electrical signals that are produced when the brain cells send messages to each other. Such signals are recorded by a machine and are thereafter examined to see if they are unusual. 

However, if these tests fail to show anything, it could still be possible that the patient has epilepsy. He may then be diagnosed as per his existing symptoms. A brain scan is another test that helps to spot problems in the brain that may be causing epilepsy (Tamber, M.S. and Mountz, J.M., 2012, November. Advances in the diagnosis and treatment of epilepsy. In Seminars in Nuclear Medicine (Vol. 42, No. 6, pp. 371-386). WB Saunders). These may include scarring in the brain, an unusual growth or brain tumor or damage to the brain, which may be caused by a stroke. The primary scan used is magnetic resonance imaging or MRI scan. It uses radio waves and magnetic fields to create an image of the patient’s brain.

Epilepsy Treatment

For an epileptic treatment and effective management proves crucial. Proper epilepsy treatment helps most patients with epilepsy to have fewer seizures and in many cases also helps to stop these seizures completely. Common epilepsy treatment options include medicines known as anti-epileptic drugs and surgery to remove the small part of the brain that has been causing the seizures (Löscher, W., Klitgaard, H., Twyman, R.E. and Schmidt, D., 2013. New avenues for anti-epileptic drug discovery and development. Nature reviews drug discovery, 12(10), pp.757-776). Treatment may also include a procedure to put a small electrical device inside the body to control the seizures as well as following a special ketogenic diet as it may also help in controlling the seizures. Some epilepsy treatment strategies may continue for life. However, patients, under the recommendation of their physicians, may be able to stop their treatment if the seizures disappear over time. Over time, patients may not need any treatment if they know their seizure triggers and are able to avoid them. 

Anti-epileptic drugs are the most commonly used treatment for epilepsy. These work by changing the levels of chemicals in the patient’s brain. Even if they do not cure epilepsy completely, they are effective in stopping the seizures from happening. Brain surgery may also be done to remove part of the brain if the anti-epileptic drugs are not helping to control the seizures. Brain surgery may also be done in cases where tests have shown that the seizures are being caused by problems in a small part of the brain which may be removed without causing any serious effects (Sørensen, A.T. and Kokaia, M., 2013. Novel approaches to epilepsy treatment. Epilepsia, 54(1), pp.1-10). This is an effective epilepsy treatment option and there is a good chance that the patient’s seizures may stop completely after surgery. In the case of some patients, it has been found that stress can trigger seizures. Therefore, relaxation and stress-relieving therapies such as meditation, yoga and exercise may prove to be immensely helpful.



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