Epilepsy and what it does...
Epilepsy is a neurological condition that makes people prone to seizures. A seizure is a change in sensation, awareness, or behavior brought about by a brief electrical disturbance in the brain. Seizures vary from a momentary disruption of the senses, to short periods of unconsciousness or staring spells, to convulsions. Some people have just one type of seizure. Others have more than one type.
Although they look different, the same thing causes all seizures: a sudden change in how the cells of the brain send electrical signals to each other. It can be caused by anything that affects the brain, including tumors and strokes. Sometimes epilepsy is inherited. Often, no cause can be found. Epilepsy is generally not the kind of condition that gets worse with time. Most adults who have it can expect to live a normal life span.
Doctors treat epilepsy primarily with seizure-preventing medicines. Although seizure medications are not a cure, they control seizures in the majority of people with epilepsy. Surgery, diet (primarily in children), or electrical stimulation of the vagus nerve, a large nerve leading into the brain, may be options if medications fail to control seizures. Several drugs (called antiepileptic or anticonvulsant drugs) are prescribed to prevent seizures. Many factors are involved in choosing the right seizure drug. The goal of treatment is to stop seizures without side effects from the medicines.
Some treatments include:
Medications – With advance, medical technology the medical field has numerous epileptic medications out on the market. There is no primary drug. Each person's body is different. Usually doctors will try different medications and dosages, until the seizures are well controlled.
Vagus nerve stimulation is a type of treatment in which short bursts of electrical energy are directed into the brain via the vagus nerve, a large nerve in the neck. The energy comes from a battery, about the size of a silver dollar, which is surgically implanted under the skin, usually on the chest. Leads are threaded under the skin and attached to the vagus nerve in the same procedure. The physician programs the device to deliver small electrical stimulation bursts every few minutes. This is a relatively new type of treatment. It may be tried when other treatment is not effective. Just how it works to prevent seizures is being studied.
Surgery - Surgical removal of seizure-producing areas of the brain has been an accepted form of treatment for over 50 years when medicines fail to prevent seizures. However, because of new surgical techniques and new ways of identifying areas to be removed, more of these operations are being done now than ever before, and with greater success. Surgery can be performed on both children and adults. However, it is not a suitable treatment for everyone who has epilepsy, or for everyone with poor seizure control.
The Ketogenic Diet, which is very high in fats and low in carbohydrates, was first developed almost 80 years ago. It makes the body burn fat for energy instead of glucose. When carefully monitored by a medical team familiar with its use, the diet helps two out of three children who are tried on it and may prevent seizures completely in one out of three. It is a strict diet, and takes a strong commitment from the whole family. The ketogenic diet is not a do-it-yourself diet. It is a serious form of treatment that, like other therapies for epilepsy, has some side effects that have to be watched for. More research is being done to learn about the underlying reasons for the diet's positive effect
The doctor's main tool in diagnosing epilepsy is a careful medical history with as much information as possible about what the seizures looked like and what happened just before they began. The doctor will also perform a thorough physical examination, especially of the nervous system, as well as analysis of blood and other bodily fluids.
Tests used to diagnosis the disorder:
One test is called an EEG. This machine records brain waves picked up by tiny wires taped to the head. Electrical signals from brain cells are recorded as wavy lines by the machine. Brain waves during or between seizures may show special patterns, which help the doctor, decide whether someone has epilepsy.
Imaging methods such as CT (computerized tomography) or MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scans may be used to search for any growths, scars, or other physical conditions in the brain that may be causing the seizures. In a few research centers, positron emission tomography (PET) imaging is used to identify areas of the brain, which are producing seizures.
Which tests and how many of them are ordered may vary, depending on how much each test reveals.
An herbal supplement uses plant remedies to restore the natural balance of the body and promotes healing to the body. Herbal medicine is not used to treat epilepsy. Some herbal medicines such as, Schizandra, kava kava and comfrey may increase the number of seizures for some people.