Epilepsy is a group of neurological disorders that cause people to have seizures. It is abnormal movements or behavior due to unusual electrical activity in the brain. These seizures can be very brief and unnoticeable or they are able to include long periods of forceful shaking. Having these seizures can end up with people having accidents that can sometimes result in broken bones. In epilepsy, these seizures tend to recur and seem to have no immediate underlying cause. People with epilepsy in some areas of the world experience stigma because of having the condition. Epilepsy is a relatively common condition.
Types Of Epilepsy
There are several types of epilepsy, each type has different causes, symptoms and treatments.
- Refractory Epilepsy
Refractory Epilepsy is when the medicine is not helping keep your seizures under control.
- Photosensitive Epilepsy
People that have photosensitive epilepsy will have seizures that are set off by flashing lights, contrasting visual patterns; or overexposure to video games.
- Benign Rolandic Epilepsy
Children have this type of Epilepsy. These seizures affect the face and sometimes the body. It will usually disappear by the time they are an adult.
- Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome
This one is a unusual and very serious kind of epilepsy that starts in childhood.
- Juvenile Myoclonic Epilepsy
JME is a form of epilepsy that can start in childhood or adolescence. This type of epilepsy can cause muscle twitching or jerking.
- Abdominal Epilepsy
Abdominal epilepsy is one where seizure activity can cause abdominal symptoms like pain and nausea. This type is so uncommon that some experts wonder whether it actually exists.
- Absence Seizures
These seizures are caused by unusual and severe electrical activity in the brain.
- Temporal Lobe Seizures
Also known as psychomotor seizures will cause short-term changes in movement, sensation or autonomic function like the persons heart rate or salivation.
Treatment and Management of Epilepsy
Epilepsy is typically treated with a daily medication regiment once the person has had their second seizure, but for those who are at high risk of having another seizure, medication may be started immediately instead of waiting for the second seizure to happen. Medications are able to control seizures in about 70% of the patients. Which type of medication is best for you will depend on the type of epilepsy you have, if you have any other health issues, if there are any other drugs that you take, and what is most convenient for you. Medication is also available for children that have epilepsy. In cases where the medications are not working, different management options may be considered. One that may be considered is a special diet. This diet is called a ketogenic diet, which is high in fat, low in carbs, and has sufficient amounts of protein. This type of diet can make the person have less seizures and it can even get rid of the seizures in some. It is a good option to consider for those who have epilepsy that does not improve with medications and for those who are not able to consider the surgeries. With this diet there are some side effects, which can include stomach and intestinal problems and there are also worries of heart disease when doing this diet. There are other diets that may also work without causing any side effects. No one is really sure why this diet seems to work. Also exercise has been said to possibly be helpful for preventing seizures. There is a little bit of information to help support this claim. Another option is having epilepsy surgery. This is an option for people with partial seizures that do not seem to get better even when trying the other types of treatments. The goal when having this surgery is for the person to be able to have total control of their seizures after the surgery. The common types of epilepsy procedures include removing the hippocampus by an anterior temporal lobe resection, removing the tumors, and removing some parts of the neocortex. Some procedures like the corpus callosotomy are done to try to help lower the amount of seizures instead of trying to actually cure them. Neurostimulation is another option for the people who are unable to have any surgeries. There are three types that have been shown to be effective.
- Vagus nerve stimulation which is a medical treatment that involves electrical impulses being delivered to the vagus nerve.
- Anterior thalamic stimulation is also called deep brain stimulation and it involves a medical device being implanted. This device is called a neurostimulator or a brain pacemaker. It sends electrical impulses to certain parts in the brain.
- Closed-loop responsive stimulation or RNS system is a responsive direct brain stimulation treatment. The RNS System uses a neurostimulator that is implanted in the skull. It has one or two leads that are implanted in the brain at the focal points of the seizures.
Music is also said to help some with epilepsy, the use of music is able to help reduce seizures. It has a paradoxical effect.
One highly controversial treatment is cannabis, especially CBD vape oil. This could potentially be helpful in controlling seizures. Stories of cannabis’s abilities to help with seizures have been around for about 150 years but interest in medical marijuana has gone up a lot in the last 10 years due to legalization campaigns. There have been some studies with trying this and here are some statistics.
- Seizures went down by an average of 54% in 137 people who completed 12 weeks.
- Patients responded more positively with a 63% decrease in seizures over 3 months.
This improvement in seizures lasted through 24 weeks.
- People who were also taking the anti-seizure medication Clobazam seemed to do better with a greater improvement in convulsive seizures than the patients who were not taking this medicine.
There are a lot of great types of traditional and non-traditional ways to help lower the amount of seizures people with epilepsy have which is something wonderful to have.