Epilepsy Treatment & Self-Care Tips


epilepsy treatment

Epilepsy is a serious disorder of the brain that is characterized by repeated seizures or sudden alteration of behavior due to temporary changes in the brain’s electrical functioning. When a person suffers from epilepsy, the electrical rhythms of his brain become imbalanced which results in recurrent seizures. This may affect his consciousness, sensations or movements. However, it is possible to manage epilepsy effectively by going for proper epilepsy treatment as well as following several self-care tips. Read along to learn about these:

Epilepsy Treatment

1) Medication 

Most patients with epilepsy can become seizure-free by taking regular anti-epileptic medicines. Other patients may be able to reduce the intensity and frequency of their seizures by taking a combination of medications (Tian, N., Boring, M., Kobau, R., Zack, M.M. and Croft, J.B., 2018. Active epilepsy and seizure control in adults—United States, 2013 and 2015. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 67(15), p.437). Many epileptic children who are not suffering from epilepsy symptoms anymore can discontinue their medications eventually and lead a seizure-free life. Adults can also discontinue their medications after two or more years without the occurrence of any seizures. However, it is important to follow the doctor’s advice regarding if and when to stop taking epileptic treatment medicines. For the best insights on this, refer to DocTube.

2) Surgery

When medicines fail to offer adequate seizure control, epilepsy surgery is considered as the effective mode of epilepsy treatment. These surgeries help to remove the part of the brain that is causing such seizures. In some types of epilepsy, MRI-guided stereotactic laser ablation and other minimally invasive procedures offer effective treatment (Vakharia, V.N., Duncan, J.S., Witt, J.A., Elger, C.E., Staba, R. and Engel Jr, J., 2018. Getting the best outcomes from epilepsy surgery. Annals of neurology, 83(4), pp.676-690). In such epileptic treatment procedures, thermal laser probes are directed at the particular brain area that is causing seizures to destroy the tissues so that the problem can be controlled well. Although patients may need to continue their medications to prevent seizures after surgery, in most cases, they will need fewer medicines and will have their doses reduced.

3) Therapies

i) Vagus nerve stimulation

This is an effective option for epilepsy treatment where medicines do not work well enough to reduce seizures and where surgery is not possible. In this case, a device known as the vagus nerve stimulator is implanted underneath the chest skin, quite similar to the heart pacemaker. The stimulator wires are connected to the vagus nerve in the patient’s neck. This battery-powered device sends bursts of electrical energy to the brain through the vagus nerve (González, H.F., Yengo-Kahn, A. and Englot, D.J., 2019. Vagus nerve stimulation for the treatment of epilepsy. Neurosurgery Clinics, 30(2), pp.219-230). Most patients would still need to take their anti-epileptic medications, although it may be possible to lower their medicine dosage. 

ii) Deep brain stimulation

In the case of deep brain stimulation, electrodes are implanted into a specific area of the brain (Li, M.C. and Cook, M.J., 2018. Deep brain stimulation for drug‐resistant epilepsy. Epilepsia, 59(2), pp.273-290). 

Epilepsy Self-Care Tips

It may not be possible to predict seizures. However, there are several everyday choices that you can make that will help you reduce your risk of having seizures.

1) Get enough sleep

Inadequate rest could be a common risk factor for seizures. Being well-rested can protect patients from different kinds of stress.

2) Eat a healthy diet

For patients suffering from epilepsy and other chronic illnesses, eating a healthy and nutritious diet is crucial (Stafstrom, C.E., 2004. Dietary approaches to epilepsy treatment: old and new options on the menu. Epilepsy Currents, 4(6), pp.215-222). For example, dietary patterns that do not meet the nutritional needs add stress to the body, which is a common known seizure trigger. 

3) Ketogenic diet

Epileptic patients who do not respond well to medications may strive toward reducing their seizures by following a ketogenic diet. This is a kind of special high-fat and low-carbohydrate diet. However, it is important to do so after consulting your physician.

4) Avoid exposure to triggers

It is also advisable to try avoiding seizure triggers. For example, one of the most common triggers for most epileptic patients is bright and flashing lights (Fisher, R.S., Acharya, J.N., Baumer, F.M., French, J.A., Parisi, P., Solodar, J.H., Szaflarski, J.P., Thio, L.L., Tolchin, B., Wilkins, A.J. and Kasteleijn‐Nolst Trenité, D., 2022. Visually sensitive seizures: An updated review by the Epilepsy Foundation. Epilepsia, 63(4), pp.739-768). Thus it is always a good idea to avoid your exposure to these triggers.

5) Do not smoke and limit alcohol consumption

Smoking causes a wide range of health issues and may also increase your risk of experiencing seizures. So, it is always a great idea to give up smoking. Similarly, consuming excessive amounts of alcoholic beverages on a daily basis also increases the risk of seizures substantially. 

6) Be physically active

It is important for you to discuss with your doctor and follow different forms of physical exercises that are appropriate for you. Being active may also often help in reducing your seizure frequency.

7) Learn relaxation techniques

Although the impact of meditation and other relaxation techniques may not be direct on seizures, learning how to relax will help you to decrease your overall stress level (Leeman-Markowski, B.A. and Schachter, S.C., 2017. Cognitive and behavioral interventions in epilepsy. Current neurology and neuroscience reports, 17, pp.1-11). This may indirectly help in reducing your risk of seizures as stress is a known risk factor for seizures. 


  At what age does epilepsy usually start?  

Epilepsy can start at any age. However, in most cases, it usually starts either in childhood or in patients aged over 60.

  Can epilepsy be genetic?  

In many cases, it has been found that genetic predisposition, combined with distinct environmental conditions can lead to epilepsy. For example, first-degree relatives of people with inherited epilepsy are known to have a much higher risk of epilepsy.


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