Treatment Options for Epilepsy
If you or someone you know experiences seizures regularly and have been diagnosed with epilepsy, the doctor may recommend medication and therapy to keep your disorder under control. Seizures occur when the electrical functioning of the brain changes temporarily, and different types of seizures affect people in different ways. Convulsions, heart palpitations, sweating, nausea, losing consciousness and drooling are just some of the effects of a seizure, and these effects can cause depression, shame, anxiety and embarrassment.
Talk to your family physician if you have recently had a seizure or are experiencing recurrent seizures. Your doctor can determine whether you have epilepsy and will create a complete treatment plan to help you enjoy a better quality of life.
Types of Treatments for Epilepsy
Most people who have been diagnosed with epilepsy are given prescription anti-epileptic drugs. Medications for epilepsy are prescribed at a low dosage at first, and increased gradually as you get the disorder under control. These drugs can cause some unwanted side effects, such as loss of coordination, weight gain, dizziness and fatigue, but most people tolerate these drugs fairly well.
Other types of treatments for epilepsy include:
- Surgery – the surgeon will remove the area of the brain that is causing seizures, or make a series of cuts in the brain to correct the problem.
- Vagus nerve stimulation – a type of therapy that involves stimulating the area around the vagus nerve in the neck. Research shows that stimulating this area inhibits seizures, but most people need to take medication along with this type of treatment in order to be effective.
- Restricted diet – men and women diagnosed with epilepsy may be able to keep it under control by eating a ketogenic diet. Some studies suggest that a diet high in fat and low in carbohydrates can reduce the occurrence of seizures. However, there is a risk of becoming malnourished on this type of diet, so anyone beginning this type of diet should do so under the guidance of a physician.
Lifestyle Treatment Plan for Epilepsy
Managing epilepsy effectively may require making some changes to your lifestyle. It’s important to make sure you are taking your medication on schedule, and adjusting your dosage levels as needed. If you or others notice changes in your behavior, or you are experiencing severe side effects from the medication, talk to your doctor so that they can adjust the dosage or switch medications.
It’s also important to:
- Get plenty of sleep - The Mayo Clinic reports that sleep deprivation can be a trigger for seizures, so it’s very important that you get enough rest every night.
- Wear a medical alert bracelet
- Keep track of medications taken in a log book or calendar
- Monitor your diet
- Limit alcoholic beverages
- Avoid cigarettes
- Learn effective stress management techniques
Learn more about the risk factors and effects of epilepsy by speaking with your family physician. Your doctor will be able to determine the best treatment plan based on your past history, and can also conduct a complete medical evaluation.