Epilepsy can be debilitating problem which can prove fatal if proper management steps are not taken. Epilepsy is typically diagnosed when the person has seizures without any medical conditions like low blood sugar, heart ailments or withdrawals of alcohol or drugs causing it. Epilepsy is a condition that affects nervous system, causing disturbances in the electrical activity in the brain. Epilepsy is inherited in some cases. It is diagnosed with the aid of electroencephalogram. There is no clear explanation as to what causes epilepsy, where as some seizures are caused by tumors, trauma to brain, cancer, drugs and alcoholism. There is no permanent cure for epilepsy, but it can be controlled or managed well through proper care. Here is the list of 5 effective ways through which you can keep the seizures under control.
Lesionectomy is a procedure through which a damaged or abnormal area of the brain is removed through surgery. The lesions can be tumors, abnormally functioning blood vessels, brain hematomas, scars left behind by injuries or infections. Lesions are responsible for seizures in nearly 20-30% of people suffering from epilepsy.
VNS or Vagus Nerve Stimulation is an adjunctive treatment which involves a minor surgery to implant a stimulator under the skin in the upper chest. Vagus is a cranial nerve that carries both afferent and efferent fibers; the stimulation of which discharges electrical energy upward into a wide area of the brain. VNS can help people who do not respond well to medications alone or who are not good candidates for surgical treatment. The benefits of the treatment are doubled by VNS when taken along with other therapies, as it is as effective as anticonvulsant or anti-seizure drugs. The side effects of VNS like hoarseness, cough, tingling in the throat are mild and not persistent.
When the seizures originate from the small part of the brain, that specific area can be removed through surgery to stop seizures. If seizures originate in area of the brain that is responsible for speech, language, vision, hearing or motor functions than surgery is not possible. In some cases multiple subpial transection surgery can be carried out for controlling seizures. Though surgery does not eliminate seizures completely, it helps in reducing medication to a great extent. As any side-effects or damage to the brain can be permanent, all aspects of the surgery should be discussed thoroughly with the surgeon before making the final decision.
A diet known as ketogenic diet, which is rich in fats but low in carbohydrates has proven to be effective in reducing seizures in people suffering from epilepsy. When there are fewer carbohydrates in diet, the body breaks down fats for energy. This increases the levels of ketone bodies in the blood which replaces glucose as an energy source. The state of higher levels of ketone is known as ketosis which reduces the occurrence, frequency and intensity of epileptic seizures. This is more effective treatment for children suffering from seizures. Malnourishment is one of the major concerns when undergoing Ketogenic diet for children; therefore, it should be carried out under proper medical supervision. Some children have been weaning themselves off the diet after some years, keeping seizures under control.
Anti-epileptic medication can at least reduce the frequency and intensity of seizures if not making the person totally seizure free. The anti-epileptic medicines suppress the rapid and excessive firing of neurons that are responsible for seizures. Some medications are known to either prevent the expected development of epilepsy or stop or reverse the progression of epilepsy immensely.
Doctors will decide about the dosage and duration of medication keeping in mind the type of seizures, age of the patient, general health conditions and other important factors that can prove harmful if ignored. Typically the medications are discontinued after certain period. Unfortunately, anti-seizure medication brings with them a lot of troublesome side-effects.