Although there’s still no cure for epilepsy, treatment options have dramatically improved over the last decade. Symptoms of the disorder can be controlled through anti-epileptic drugs, surgery, vagus nerve stimulator therapy, ketogenic diet treatment and lifestyle changes. Here’s a detailed look into each of these treatment options.
A majority of epilepsy cases are controlled by anti-seizure medications. The type of treatment prescribed to a patient depends on several factors including age, severity of the seizures, medical history, overall health, as well as one’s tolerance to the drug’s side effects. They have to be taken regularly as prescribed by the doctor, to maintain an effective level in the body all the time.
Examples of medications used in the treatment of epilepsy include, Tegretol, Dilantin, Phenobarbital, Depakene, Zarontine and Valium. Newer drugs that have been released recently include Gabitril, Felbatol, Aptiom, Lamictal, Trileptal, and Lyrica among others.
Like all other medications, anti-epileptic drugs have unpleasant side effects, which vary depending on dosage, treatment period and type of medication. The possible side effects are blurred vision, fatigue, drowsiness, headaches, skin rashes, mood disturbance and weight gain.
It is worth noting that some medications reduce the effectiveness of anti-epileptic drugs, so it’s very important that you tell the doctor about any medication you’re taking, including herbal treatments and supplements.
Surgery is an option, for those epileptic individuals who don’t respond well to drugs. It involves identifying the part of the brain where the epileptic seizures originate, and then removing that part without causing complications. Successfully removing the abnormal brain tissue can help to prevent seizures.
To qualify for surgery, the doctor will conduct a number of tests on you to determine if you’re a suitable candidate. The tests usually determine whether your seizures are coming from the same area in your brain, and whether that area is too close to key functions, like movement or speech. If you qualify, he or she will then discuss the possible outcomes of the surgery with you, to help you make an informed decision.
Vagus Nerve Stimulation Therapy
This is technique involves surgically implanting a device called, vagus nerve stimulator, below the skin, on the upper part of the chest. The device has leads that generate electric pulses, which stimulate the vagus nerve.
This is the nerve that conducts impulses between the brain and other body parts, like the neck and head. By stimulating the vagus nerve, the potential of the brain to produce or spread irregular seizure activities are reduced.
Note that, this technique does not stop epileptic seizures completely, but reduces them significantly. This helps to improve the quality of life of a patient. This treatment method is not a substitute for anti-seizure medications, and is only carried out on people who don’t respond to drugs, and are not good candidates for surgery.
Visit a Chiropractor
While chiropractors do not treat epilepsy or seizures directly, research has found that chiropractic care can reduce the occurance of seizures. Spinal damage has been linked to many neurological conditions, such as epilepsy, and physical trauma is cited as one of the causes. Physical trauma could be produce a lesion in the brain stem or spinal cord – which may then cause seizures.
Dr. Lee, an authority in chiropractic treatments recommends that all sufferers of neurological discorders visit a chiropractor as soon as they are diagnosed to ensure their spine is void of damage and free of spinal nerve stress.
You can learn more about how chiropractic techniques are used to treat epilepsy on his website
Ketogenic Diet Treatment
This treatment option has been reported to reduce epileptic seizures in a few children. The diet entails eating high fats, low carbohydrates and an adequate amount of protein. Ketones are created when the body burns fat as the main source of energy. These ketones cause changes in the body chemistry, which helps to control seizures.
The diet, which is very challenging and unpalatable, should be undertaken only under the supervision of a medical doctor. It’s recommended for children who fail to respond to other treatment options.
In certain cases, epilepsy can be triggered by a number of factors such as lack of sleep, drinking alcohol, stress, menstruation, overheating, missed medication, illnesses (vomiting or diarrhea) and certain drugs (recreational and prescription). Avoiding these triggers can help minimize seizures to some extent.
If your family member or relative suffers from epilepsy, here are some tips to help you handle him properly when a seizure occurs:
a) Turn the person on his side.
b) Do not hold him down.
c) Loosen any tight clothing, especially on the neck area.
d) Cushion his head.
e) Do not put anything in his mouth, because he is not in danger of biting his tongue.
f) Observe the characteristics of the seizure for instance, the type of movements, duration, and direction of eye and head turning. Let the doctor know about them, to help him diagnose the type of seizure he has.
Overall, understanding the different treatment options available for epilepsy, can help you talk to your doctor about finding the best treatment plan for your specific case.