If you or someone you know has epilepsy, you know what a struggle it can be. Epileptic episodes can come at any moment, and there are limited options when it comes to treatment. Some people have mild forms of epilepsy, while others face debilitating symptoms that make even doing mundane tasks a challenge.
Learning as much as you can about epilepsy is one of the most important things anyone can do who has it themselves or someone they know is at risk. To keep epilepsy patients safe, they need people around them who can support them when episodes come on wherever they are. Being prepared helps, but most people with epilepsy have to depend on the people around them at some point in their lives.
Most people are unaware that epilepsy isn’t a single condition or disease. There are varying degrees of epilepsy and different kinds, each with its own symptoms. Working with a doctor to discover what type of epilepsy you have is key to avoiding things that bring on seizures and manage expectations going forward.
Once you have a diagnosis, you can start working on finding the best, most effective treatment for your condition. Here are four epilepsy treatment options for your consideration.
One of the most popular treatments for epilepsy is doctor-prescribed medication. There are several different drugs you can take to prevent or limit the scope of seizures. These can be lifesaving medicines for people who experience severe seizures. They stop you from convulsing violently and injuring yourself.
These medications typically alter the way your brain cells communicate to stop seizures before they take hold. The type of medicine you take will depend on your age, the severity of symptoms, other medical conditions, and other factors. Consulting with your doctor about your condition and potential medicines is the best course of action. You may have to try different drugs to find out which ones work best for you with the fewest side effects.
Unfortunately, as is the case with almost every prescription medicine, there are side effects that you’ll have to deal with as you take the drugs. Doctors can do a lot of work to try and limit them by finding medicines you respond to best. Common side effects include lethargy, weight gain, mood changes, and dizziness, among others.
Trying the Ketogenic Diet
People with epilepsy have seen promising results from going on a ketogenic diet. This type of diet is very low in carbs and high in healthy fats (think fats from meats, nuts, avocados, and other healthy foods). Outcomes have been so positive that some doctors recommend ketogenic diets before or in conjunction with prescription medicines. Research indicates that ketogenic diets can be beneficial for adults as well as children.
Ketogenic diets, thankfully, have become more popular among the general public. People enjoy the weight loss and energy-preserving benefits that being in what’s called “ketosis” delivers. These days, you can find ketogenic snacks and recipes to make the diet more compatible with everyday living.
Several anti-epilepsy medications currently available work by increasing gamma-aminobutyric acid, or GABA, in the brain. Either that or they bind GABA receptors to mimic the effects of GABA. Recent studies on mice with epilepsy indicate that, when administered with growth hormone-releasing hormones like sermorelin, seizures were suppressed. Further research into sermorelin and similar peptides are ongoing, but there is a lot of promise around this type of treatment. This product has not yet been FDA approved specifically for Epilepsy. More research needs to be done in order to determine the future medical possibilities.
Surgery is usually reserved for the most severe cases of epilepsy. Doctors will go into the brain and remove the part of the brain that is known to cause and trigger seizures. First, however, doctors have to find the part of the brain responsible. It’s not in the same place for every patient. As long as the area is small and doesn’t control critical functions like movement, sight, or speech, then surgery is a viable option. In addition, surgeons can also try another method of disconnecting nerve pathways in the brain to reduce seizures.
Of course, surgery is always more invasive than many other forms of treatment and carries serious risk in some cases. Many patients, though, have overcome significant symptoms as a result of successful surgery.
If you or someone you know is struggling with epilepsy, understanding the condition is the first step into finding the right treatment course. Whether you are a patient, have a child with epilepsy, or want to be supportive of a friend or family member, the more you learn about epilepsy, the better you will be able to deal with epileptic episodes and other symptoms associated with the condition. Thankfully, there are effective treatments available today that can reduce the impact epilepsy can have on patients’ lives.