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Epilepsy Treatment Options

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Seizures impact each person differently, so treatment plans are developed on a case-by-case basis. That doesn’t mean that all epilepsy sufferers aren’t united in their shared goal of controlling the seizures so that they occur as infrequently as possible. The more control achieved, the less epilepsy will interfere with daily life. If you or someone you love has experienced a seizure or has received an epilepsy diagnosis, there are five leading treatments that your doctor or neurologist may suggest. Treatment typically starts with medication but may also include lifestyle adjustments aimed at controlling personal triggers, surgery, dietary modification, and some variety of nerve therapy or brain stimulation. In most cases, a combination of these options are chosen to create an effective treatment plan.

Top 5 Epilepsy Treatment Options:

  • Prescription medication
  • Lifestyle adjustment
  • Surgical intervention
  • Dietary modification
  • Nerve therapy/brain stimulation

Epilepsy Medication Options

There are a variety of anti-epileptic drugs currently approved to treat epilepsy, and new medications are added to the list frequently. Neurologists and epilepsy specialists are familiar with all of the options and know which medications are more effective with each type of epilepsy. They will select the medication most likely to control your seizures, but you may need to adjust your dosage or alter the time of day that you take the medication in order to receive maximum results. In many cases, a combination of medication is needed to reach the desired seizure-free state. These medications often come with unwanted side effects, so you may need to change prescriptions until you find a drug that works without interfering with your daily life.

Highlights:

  • There are many anti-epileptic drugs available today.
  • Some epileptics take a combination of medications to reach a seizure-free state.
  • When side effects occur, changing to a different medication is an option.

Lifestyle Adjustment

After a diagnosis of epilepsy is received, it’s important to start taking notes regarding the circumstances surrounding each epileptic event. This will allow you to see patterns that will pinpoint your personal epilepsy triggers. For instance, one person may experience more seizures when they’re tired or sick while another is prone to having seizures when exposed to bright or flashing light. Once you know your triggers, you can work with your medical professionals to create lifestyle patterns that allow you to avoid those triggers at all costs. For instance, you may need to stick to a strict bedtime schedule or avoid skating rinks, movie theaters, and other environments with bright lights.

Recording the circumstances surrounding each seizure will identify clear patterns.

A pattern of seizure activity helps to identify personal triggers.

Lifestyle adjustments will help you avoid your triggers, increasing your control over the seizures.

Highlights:

  • Recording the circumstances surrounding each seizure will identify clear patterns.
  • A pattern of seizure activity helps to identify personal triggers.
  • Lifestyle adjustments will help you avoid your triggers, increasing your control over the seizures.

Surgical Intervention for Epilepsy

Surgery isn’t typically considered as a first treatment option for any form epilepsy. Most surgical candidates have conditions that don’t respond well to medication, and they often try all medications available without success before surgery is offered. Others are recommended for surgery much faster because their seizures drastically interfere with their quality of life or potentially put their life in danger. If you have a type of epilepsy that affects a specific part of your brain and there is a surgical intervention available, your epilepsy specialist may suggest this treatment if they’re unable to control your seizures through medication and lifestyle adjustment.

Highlights:

  • Surgery is a secondary treatment option that is used primarily when medication isn’t effective.
  • Many surgical candidates have tried all available medications without success.
  • If your seizures dramatically lower your quality of life or endanger your life, surgery may be an option.

Treating Epilepsy with Dietary Modification

The Ketogenic Diet is often recommended for epilepsy sufferers struggling to control their seizures through medication alone. This is a high-fat diet that severely limits the consumption of carbohydrates, and it’s difficult for many people to follow consistently. Since food has a powerful impact on all body functions, it makes sense that some people can reduce their seizure frequency by eliminating foods that may contribute to some forms of epilepsy. The Atkins Diet and other high-protein, high-fat plans are often used in place of the Ketogenic Diet, but this is still considered a secondary option that comes into play when medication alone fails to provide consistent relief of seizure activity.

Highlights:

  • The Ketogenic Diet is the most common dietary modification suggested for epilepsy treatment.
  • The Atkins Diet and other high-fat, high-protein plans are also useful for some epileptics.
  • Dietary modification is often suggested when medication alone isn’t effective.

Nerve Therapy/Brain Stimulation

When epilepsy isn’t effectively controlled through medication, nerve therapy or brain stimulation may be considered. Typically, these options are considered alternatives to surgery if the portions of the brain impacted by seizures aren’t easily removed. Deep Brain Stimulation, otherwise known as DBS, involves implanting electrodes directly into the brain in order to apply stimulation to select areas. Vagus Nerve Stimulation, otherwise known as VNS, is a device that is surgically implanted near the vagus nerve in order to stimulate that nerve. The goal is seizure control, so this isn’t a cure for epilepsy.

These secondary treatment options are offered when other surgical interventions are unavailable.

Brain stimulation isn’t a cure for epilepsy.

The goal of stimulation is to reduce the frequency of seizures in order to improve quality of life.

The Ultimate Goal for Epileptics

Highlights:

  • These secondary treatment options are offered when other surgical interventions are unavailable.
  • Brain stimulation isn’t a cure for epilepsy.
  • The Ultimate Goal for Epileptics.

Conclusion

If you’re unfamiliar with some of these epilepsy treatment options, spend some time looking them up online. When you discuss treatment options with your doctor or neurologist, you will have a better idea of what each of these options may mean for your health and your lifestyle. The ultimate goal is to maintain a seizure-free status with as few medication side effects as possible. You may not get the right treatment plan in place the first time around, but with the help of your medical team, you should eventually find the right treatment options for your condition.