The Many Challenges of Epilepsy
Determining the most effective treatment for people suffering from epilepsy is a challenge for both the patient and medical professionals. More than two million people in the United States suffer from some form of epilepsy. About one in twenty-six men, women, and children will be diagnosed with this disease during their lifetime. Because having epilepsy and suffering from seizures has a direct impact on quality of life, health care providers constantly search for better epilepsy treatment options for their patients who suffer from this disease. The types of epilepsy vary from one person to the next and may be classified by the type of seizures they experience.
Treatment for Epilepsy Patients
Treatment is indicated for patients who experience epileptic seizures regardless of the intensity or frequency. The objective is to control the seizures without any adverse effects. Epilepsy medications and epilepsy therapy are recommended and individualized for each patient based on careful evaluation and analysis of the risk and benefits associated with each treatment option.
Medications for Treating Epilepsy
Finding the right mix of anti-seizure medicines that help limit seizures in the brain requires careful observation by a medical professional. Because not all medications work the same in all people, a healthcare provider must evaluate the type and amount of medicine that provides the best treatment option. A neurologist specializes in the brain and nervous system and may consult with a family physician to determine the best course of action for the patient.
Effectiveness of Medications
Some people respond positively to medications that fully control their seizures. Those with seizures caused by an undetermined brain disorder may not respond as well. Because there is no known cure for epilepsy, medication is considered a long-term treatment option.
Vagus Nerve Stimulator Therapy
Vagus nerve stimulation therapy is often used when other forms of treatments that are not effective. This therapy involves implanting a small, pacemaker-like generator under the skin in the chest near the vagus nerve located on the side of the neck. The generator sends electrical signals to the brain to help block activity that causes seizures. Even though it may reduce the number and intensity of seizures, it does not stop them completely.
When all other attempts to control seizures fail, surgery is possible. The procedure involves removing a small portion of the brain that is considered the underlying cause of epilepsy. Because there are certain risks associated with the surgery and there are no guarantees of success, surgery is only considered as a last option.
Alternative Treatment Options
Some studies have found that several alternative treatments for epilepsy have been successful in reducing or limiting seizures. These treatments include practicing relaxation techniques and taking large doses of vitamin supplements. Even though it has not been proven effective in eliminating seizures, many advocate using medical marijuana. Some patients have noticed some improvement in frequency and severity of seizures by using yoga for epilepsy treatment. Focused breathing helps to calm and relax the body and mind.