Epilepsy Treatment Options
Epilepsy is a frightening condition that most people can control with the right treatments. It’s not a common condition - only 48 of every 100,000 people are diagnosed, according to the Epilepsy Foundation - but epilepsy makes of the fourth most-common neurological condition in the United States. Epilepsy is a blanket term covering various seizure disorders, and doctors often struggle to identify its cause. Babies who are born with a lack of oxygen are more prone to developing epilepsy, and people who suffer head injuries from sports, can accidents or other incidents are also more at risk. Genetic disorders such as meningitis can also trigger the development of epilepsy, as can having chronically high blood sugar levels or high sodium levels. The good news about epilepsy is it can usually be controlled with treatments designed to prevent seizures. Read on to learn more about the top forms of epilepsy treatment.
For people with partial epilepsy, Lamictal is the drug of choice and has shown promising results in drug trials and research, while producing relatively few side effects in most patients. For people who have generalized epilepsy, the best first line of treatment is valproic acid. In studies, people with generalized epilepsy who took valproic acid had far fewer seizures than people who took other epilepsy medications. Similarly, Topamax has shown great results in treating several types of seizures, including partial-onset seizures and primary generalized tonic-clonic seizures. Topamax and Lamictal are both approved for the treatment of epilepsy in adults and children age two or older. Depakote (valproic acid) is approved for adults and children age 10 and older.
As with all medications, anti-seizure drugs can cause side effects in some people. Side effects will depend on the medication, but are generally mild and most go away with continued use. Still, talk to your doctor about possible side effects associated with the medication prescribed before taking your medication. In some cases, if side effects are severe or interfere with your lifestyle, your doctor may want to switch you to another medication that may have fewer side effects. The goal in epilepsy treatment is finding the medications that work most effectively, while keeping side effects manageable. In some cases, epilepsy medications may not be well tolerated, and other treatment options will need to be considered.
For people who don’t respond well to epilepsy medications, other treatments options may including surgery, vagus nerve stimulation and even dietary changes (ketogenic diet). Some of these treatments can be done in conjunction with medication to improve the overall outcome of treatment. Ultimately, you and your doctor must decide which treatment will work best for your needs. Surgery and other invasive procedures are generally only done when medications don’t work are cause severe side effects.
While there has been great success with these medications in treating epilepsy, they may not work for everyone. Each case is complex and finding the right treatment must involve several factors, including the overall health of the patient, other medications being taken, the type of epilepsy and how the person responds to different medications. Working closely with your doctor and being open to trying new lines of treatment is the best way to find the treatment that will work best for your needs.