Living with Epilepsy: What are Your Treatment Options?

Epilepsy is a brain disorder characterized by repeated seizures, which refer to a sudden change of behavior because of a temporary change in the brain’s electrical functioning. Normally, the brain generates tiny patterned electrical impulses throughout the body through neurotransmitters. During an episode of epilepsy in San Jose, the electrical rhythms of the brain can become imbalanced leading to recurrent seizures. Epilepsy occurs when sudden and synchronized electrical energy bursts disrupt the normal electrical pattern. This may affect a person’s consciousness, sensations, or movements.

Kinds of Seizures

Typically, seizures are categorized into primary generalized seizures and partial seizures that differ in the way they start. A primary generalized seizure occurs after a widespread electrical discharge involving the two sides of the brain. This includes epilepsy-related seizures.  Meanwhile, partial seizures start with an electrical discharge in a single limited brain area. Some of these seizures result from a head injury, stroke, brain infection, or tumor. But, the cause is usually not known.

How Epilepsy is Treated

Treatments for epilepsy include antiepileptic medications, surgery, and diet therapy. Medications are only prescribed to patients who experience multiple seizures and treat only the symptoms instead of the epilepsy itself.

With a lot of antiepileptic drugs available today, picking the right one for a person can be complicated. Medication choice depends on some factors such as the kind of seizure and epilepsy, the possible side effects of the medication, other medical issues that the patient has, the patient’s age and gender, potential interactions, as well as medication cost.

In patients who have certain types of epilepsy, diet therapy may be used. Often, an epileptic patient is recommended to undergo either the ketogenic diet or the modified Atkins diet. In a ketogenic diet, they will consume a high-fat, adequate protein and lower-carb diet. The modified Atkins diet has the same elements but is less restrictive than the ketogenic diet. Both diets are especially effective in patients who have refractory epilepsy.

Moreover, surgery offers the best odds for controlling seizures that are medically resistant. But, not all patients with epilepsy are candidates for surgery. For instance, refractory patients must have partial epilepsy to be qualified for surgery.

The Dangers Associated with Epilepsy

Those who have epilepsy can suffer from tonic-clonic status epilepticus, which is a long-lasting seizure. When this seizure is not stopped, the patient can sustain a permanent injury or die. Epileptic patients are also at risk of sudden unexplained death in epilepsy or SUDEP, which is a rare condition in which a sufferer can die without a cause.