Treatment Approaches for Epilepsy and Seizure Care
Effective care of epilepsy is traditionally begun with medicinal approaches. If these approaches do not achieve the desired impact, more invasive procedures could be recommended.
Most patients can become seizure-free by taking an anti-seizure medication, also known as an anti-epileptic medication. If one doesn't work, then often a combination of medicines will be prescribed to find relief.
Individuals that are not experiencing symptoms after two years can often discontinue medications and live seizure-free. Your physician is the best person to guide this process and has the goal of a seizure-free life for you in mind.
Medications can have some side effects, including:
- Loss of coordination
- Thought process and memory problems
- Skin rashes
- Speech problems
- Weight gain
More rare and serious side effects can include depression, suicidal thoughts, and mood swings.
As with any treatment approach, it is important to closely adhere to the plan of care your physician has outlined. For medications to have their best impact, you should:
- Take your medication regularly and as prescribed.
- Verify any switches to generics with your physician.
- Notify your physician immediately if you begin suffering from depression or suicidal thoughts or experience dramatic mood swings.
- Let your doctor know if are experiencing headaches
Half of all patients that are prescribed anti-epileptic medicines become seizure-free with their first medicine. Medicine has been a proven treatment approach to achieve consistently satisfactory results in seizure management.
While seizure medications can help many with epilepsy, some continue to suffer from seizures or side effects.
Current therapeutic procedures include:
- Vagus Nerve Stimulation - a small device is placed under the skin that delivers a small electrical current to the vagus nerve, located in the side of the neck. By stimulating this nerve, seizures happen less often or are less severe.
Devices are being developed to try and control seizures in those who don't respond to medications. Devices are also being developed to help detect seizure activity or alert people of possible seizure behavior.
When medications fail to provide the results needed, some patients may benefit from epilepsy surgery. The surgery process involves the removal of the portion of the brain that is triggering the seizures.
Undertaking a surgical approach is typically recommended when:
- The seizures generate from a small, specific region in the brain.
- The area needing treatment is not located near critical brain function areas such as speech, vision, hearing, or motor function.
Many patients undergoing surgery may still need some medications to control seizures, but they usually require less medication and can have smaller doses.
Surgery comes with some risk and it is important to know that in a small number of cases, surgery can impact cognitive function.
Our experienced neurosurgeons on the Epilepsy and Seizure care team are experts in epilepsy surgery. We look forward to partnering with you in your care and recovery.