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How to Treat Epilepsy

epilepsy treatmentEpilepsy is a neurological condition characterized by recurrent seizures. The goal of epilepsy treatment is to reduce the number and severity of seizures while minimizing potential side effects. The treatment options include medications, surgery, vagus nerve stimulation (VNS), and a ketogenic diet. In most cases, medications can successfully control seizures in people with epilepsy, and are usually the first choice for the treatment of epilepsy. Surgery or other treatments may be an option if medication fails to control their seizures.

Medications

Medications such as anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs) are often used to treat epilepsy. About 70% of people with epilepsy have their seizures controlled with AEDs. The aim of this treatment is to reduce the symptoms of epilepsy, rather than curing the underlying condition.

The choice of which drugs to be prescribed and at what dosage depends on the type of seizure a person has, a person’s lifestyle, age and overall health. Like many drugs, AED may have side effects. Some common side effects of antiepileptic drugs include drowsiness, fatigue, weight changes, mood disorders, irritability, or skin rash. Your doctor will discuss potential side effects and how long they may affect you.

Surgery

If the medications do not seem to control seizures, or the seizures are due to a tumor, surgery may be performed to treat the problem. The goal of epilepsy surgery is to identify an abnormal area of brain cortex from which the seizures originate and remove it without causing any major functional impairment.

Vagal Nerve Stimulator

Vagal Nerve Stimulator (VNS) is a device that is implanted under the pectoral or chest muscle on the left side of chest. About the size of a stopwatch, it passes a regular dose of electricity to the nerve to stimulate it. This can help to reduce the number and severity of seizures. It can take two to three years to achieve maximum effectiveness.

Ketogenic Diet

For a relatively mild symptoms of epilepsy, a ketogenic diet is considered very effective. It is high in fat and low in carbohydrates and protein, which make the seizures less likely to occur by altering the chemical composition of the brain. It is usually advised for children with seizures that are difficult to control or did not respond to AEDs. This diet has been shown to reduce the number of seizures in some children. But the high-fat diet associated with serious health conditions, like diabetes and heart disease. So, it should only be used under the supervision of an epilepsy specialist with the help of a nutritionist.