When the doctor has made a diagnosis of seizures or epilepsy, the next step is to select the best form of treatment. If the seizure was caused by an underlying correctable brain condition, surgery may stop seizures. If epilepsy -- that is, a continuing tendency to have seizures -- is diagnosed, the doctor will usually prescribe regular use of seizure-preventing medications. If drugs are not successful, other methods may be tried, including surgery, a special diet, complementary therapy or vagus nerve stimulation (VNS). The goal of all epilepsy treatment is to prevent further seizures, avoid side effects, and make it possible for people to lead active lifestyles.
Antiepileptic drugs successfully prevent seizures in at least fifty percent of all patients for substantial periods of time. Another thirty percent enjoy a significant reduction in the number of seizures. Unfortunately, some people continue to have seizures regularly despite taking medication. For them, surgical or, in children, dietary therapy with the ketogenic diet may be helpful. There is also hope that continuing research will produce new drugs and new ways of using them that will eventually give seizure relief to everyone who has epilepsy.
Whenever possible, doctors try to prevent seizures with a single medication. This is called monotherapy. However, some people may require polytherapy, the use of more than one medication to achieve seizure control. When selecting a drug, your doctor will consider the type of seizures you have. Not all medications work for all types of seizures.