International Epilepsy Day 2024 serves as a poignant reminder of global efforts to raise awareness about epilepsy. Epileptic seizures can be triggered by a variety of factors, including flashes of light, lack of sleep, stress, and certain medications. However, triggers can vary greatly between individuals. Treatment of epilepsy usually involves a combination of medications, lifestyle changes, and in some cases surgery or other interventions.
Dr. GV Subbaiah Chowdhury, Senior Consultant Neurologist and Clinical Director, Yashoda Hospitals Hyderabad, shares why it is important for people with epilepsy to work closely with healthcare professionals to develop a personalized treatment plan that effectively manages their condition and improves their quality of life.
What triggers seizures?
Dr. Chowdhury says, “Events or something that happened before the seizure started. Here are some commonly reported seizure triggers that Dr. Chowdhury shared:
– Sleep problems such as not sleeping well, not getting enough sleep, sleep problems such as sleep apnea.
– Alcohol use, alcohol withdrawal, recreational drug use.
– Hormonal changes or menstrual hormone changes.
– Any illness, fever.
– Flashing lights or patterns.
– Skipping meals.
-Excessive physical exertion.
– Certain foods (caffeine is a common trigger).
– Fixed time of day or night.
– Use of certain drugs. Diphenhydramine, an ingredient in over-the-counter cold, allergy and sleep products, is a reported trigger.
– Missed doses of anti-seizure medication.
When diagnosing epilepsy, Dr. GV Subbaiah comments, “Symptoms and medical history are important and several tests to identify the cause of seizures may include:
– A neurological examination.
– Blood tests A blood sample can detect signs of infection, genetic conditions, or other conditions associated with seizures.
– Genetic testing In some people with epilepsy, genetic testing can provide more information about the condition and how to treat it Genetic testing is often performed in children, but may also be helpful in some adults with epilepsy.
You may have brain imaging tests and scans that detect changes in the brain:
– Electroencephalogram (EEG): This is the most common test used to diagnose epilepsy. In this test, small metal discs called electrodes are attached to your scalp with an adhesive or cap. Electrodes record your brain’s electrical activity.
“In epilepsy, changes in brain wave patterns are common. This can be done while you’re awake or asleep. Recording seizures can help determine what type of seizure you’re having or rule out other conditions, adds Dr. Subbiah. .
– Computerized tomography (CT) scan: A CT scan can detect tumors, hemorrhages, or cysts in the brain that may be causing epilepsy.
– Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): An MR uses strong magnets and radio waves to create a detailed view of the brain. But an MRI provides a more detailed view of the brain than a CTscan.
– Positron emission tomography (PET): PETscans use small amounts of low-dose radioactive material. , brain regions with low metabolism may indicate areas where seizures occur.
– Single-photon emission computerized tomography (SPECT) This type of test is used if MRI and EEG do not identify the location of the brain where the seizure starts.
Treatment of epilepsy
Treatments to control epilepsy include anti-seizure medications, special diets (usually in addition to anti-seizure medications), and surgery.
Anti-seizure medications can control seizures in about 60% to 70% of people with epilepsy. Anticonvulsant drug treatment is individualized. Doctors may try one or more drugs, doses of drugs, or combinations of drugs to find what works best to control seizures.
The choice of anticonvulsant depends on:
– Prior reaction to anticonvulsant drugs.
– Patient may have other associated medical conditions
– Possibility of interaction with other medicines you take.
– Side effects of anticonvulsants (if any).
Age of the patient
Because some anticonvulsant drugs have been linked to birth defects, tell the doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant.
– If anti-seizure medications do not control seizures, the doctor will discuss other treatment options, including special diets, medical devices, or surgery.
When medications do not provide adequate control of seizures, epilepsy surgery may be an option. With epilepsy surgery, a surgeon removes the part of your brain that causes seizures.
Surgery is usually done when tests show that:
– Your seizures start in a small, well-defined area of your brain.
– The surgery will not affect vital functions such as speech, language, movement, vision or hearing.
Lifestyle and home remedies
It also plays an important role
– Taking medicine properly.
– Get enough sleep.