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Epilepsy is a common condition that causes repeated seizures. The condition can affect all areas of a person’s life. The good news is there are several types of treatments available, which may help reduce seizure activity and improve quality of life.

For millions of people, epilepsy can have an impact on all areas of their life. Finding effective treatment not only improves symptoms, but it may improve their quality of life.   

What Is An Epileptic Seizure?

Normally, neurons transmit electrical impulses throughout the brain. 

A seizure can develop when there is a disruption of the electrical activity in the brain.

It is important to understand that not everyone who has a seizure has epilepsy. Seizures can be caused by several things, including extremely high fevers, head injuries and brain tumors. According to John Hopkins University, a diagnosis of epilepsy is considered when two or more seizures, which are unprovoked, occur.   

According to the Epilepsy Foundation, in the United States, about three million people have epilepsy.

The condition affects both children and adults. There are different types of epileptic syndromes and different types of seizures. For example, temporal lobe epilepsy is the most common epileptic syndrome. Other epileptic syndromes include frontal lobe epilepsy, Rasmussen’s Syndrome and juvenile myoclonic epilepsy.

In addition to different syndromes, there are also two main types of seizures including partial and generalized. Partial seizures start in one location in the brain. Generalized seizures do not have a specific location where they start. Instead, they appear to start everywhere at once.

The exact symptoms of a seizure may vary depending on where in the brain the seizure starts. Most people are familiar with seizures, which cause symptoms, such as uncontrollable muscle spasms and a loss of consciousness.

But not all seizures are the same. For example, some types of seizures involve an episode of staring or a sudden loss of muscle tone.

Conventional Treatment Options For Epilepsy

Different treatments are available for children and adults with epilepsy. The recommended treatment may depend on the type of epilepsy and how frequently seizures are occurring. In some cases, various types of treatment may be tried until something that controls seizures is found. Below are a couple of conventional treatment options.

Medication: In many instances, medication is one of the first treatments used for epilepsy. Several types of anti-epileptic medications can be used. According to The University of Chicago Medical Center, the available anti-epileptic medications have increased from a handful in the 1980s to over 20 currently.

Finding the right medication may take a little trial and error and in some situations, a combination of medications may be needed.

Although anti-epileptic medication can be useful, side effects may occur, such as weight gain, fatigue and memory problems. It is essential the risks versus the benefits of anti-epileptic medications are weighed before taking the medication.

Vagus Nerve Stimulation: Vagus nerve stimulation is a type of epileptic treatment used in adults when medication is not successful in stopping seizures. The treatment involves surgically implanting a device under the skin in the chest. Wires attached to the implant are threaded up to the vagus nerve, which is located in the neck. The device is programmed to emit small, electrical impulses at specific intervals, which inhibits seizures. According to the Mayo Clinic, vagus nerve stimulation usually decreases seizure activity between 20 to 40 percent in most people.

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