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Epilepsy Treatment

Epilepsy Treatment

When nerve cell activity affects brain coordination and disrupts normal functions, epilepsy can be a severe, life-long consequence. If seizures take over the individual who experiences abnormal, uncontrollable physical and mental reactions, epilepsy treatment must be started immediately.

Triggered by the disorder of the central nervous system, the patient can show a wide spectrum of symptoms that range from blank stare to repeated twitching spasms.

Signs and Symptoms of Epilepsy

Some common signs of epilepsy are:

  • Temporary confusion
  • Uncontrollable jerking movements of arms and legs
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Spells
  • Psychic symptoms

Even mild seizures require instant medical diagnosis and epilepsy treatment, because they can be dangerous in certain circumstances. Treatments for epilepsy include medication and neurosurgery. Most epilepsy treatments are aimed at the reduction of the frequency and intensity, or the elimination of the seizures.

In order to treat the condition, doctors diagnose and classify the seizures as focal or generalized epilepsy, depending on how the abnormal brain activity initiates.

Types of Epilepsy

Focal or partial seizures happen when seizures appear in one specific area of the brain. They can be:

  • Simple – It does not result in loss of consciousness, only in involuntary jerking of body parts and some spontaneous sensory symptoms like dizziness and tingling.
  • Dyscognitive – It alters awareness, leading to purposeless movements.

On the other hand, generalized seizures involve all areas of the brain. The six types are:

  • Absence – or petit mal, characterized by subtle body movement and blank sight.
  • Tonic – causes stiffening of the muscles.
  • Clonic – is associated with jerking muscle movements affecting the neck, face and arms.
  • Myoclonic – appears as sudden twitches.
  • Atonic – cause loss of muscle control.
  • Tonic-clonic – or grand mal, cause loss of consciousness, body stiffening and shaking.

Epilepsy has no identifiable cause, but some common traceable factors include genetic susceptibility, head trauma, brain conditions like stroke or brain tumors, infections such as AIDS and meningitis, prenatal injury and developmental disorders like autism.

Epilepsy Treatment

After reviewing medical history, a neurological examination is performed (behavior, motor ability, mental functions). Some blood tests may provide information related to infections and genetic conditions.

Some tests performed to detect brain abnormalities are:

  • Electroencephalogram (EEG)
  • Computerized tomography or CT scan
  • MRI or Magnetic resonance imaging
  • Functional MRI
  • PET or positron emission tomography
  • SPECT or single-photon emission computerized tomography
  • Neuropsychological tests

Most epilepsy treatments include anti-seizure medication. Surgery is commonly performed when the seizures are originated in a well-defined area of the brain that does not interfere with vital functions.

The number of epilepsy medications has increased over the past decade and new methods, like nerve stimulation, have shown a lot of progress while research continues.

The most important aspect of epilepsy treatment is to eliminate seizures and side-effects. Medication is still the number one treatment, with most syndromes adequately treated. Some of them are:

  • Neurontin
  • Lamictal
  • Topamax
  • Zonegran
  • Keppra
  • Trileptal
  • Gabrtril

When medicines do not work, epilepsy surgery is an option for people in early stages of focal epilepsy. Other common treatment for epilepsy is therapy.