Diagnosis and Treatment
Diagnosing epilepsy and treating seizures successfully requires a team effort between you, your family and your health care team. It is important to consult with a neurologist if you have epilepsy or seizures because a neurologist is trained to care for people with neurological disorders.
For some people it may be easy to diagnose and control seizures and epilepsy. For others diagnosing and treating epilepsy may be difficult. When seizures and epilepsy are difficult to diagnose or when the person is not responding to standard therapy (medication), it is recommended to consult with a neurologist who specializes in epilepsy who is called an epileptologist.
To find a neurologist or epileptologist in Colorado, please contact the Direct Care Manager at the Epilepsy Foundation of Colorado at 303-377-9774 or firstname.lastname@example.org. We can help you find a doctor who understands epilepsy and seizures.
Managing Your Epilepsy
Participating in your treatment and being an advocate for yourself can impact your results. We encourage you to do a few simple things to effectively participate and advocate for yourself.
- Take your medicine on time, every day, exactly as prescribed by your doctor.
- See a specialist if your seizures are not controlled.
- Keep a health diary of seizures, test results, medications, and questions for your doctor.
- Track your seizures at SeizureTracker.com.
- Know your seizure triggers – For many people, sleep deprivation or stress can trigger seizure activity.
- Create and share your own seizure action plan – Get your doctor’s input and share this with your employer, school, family and friends.
Medicine is the most common treatment for controlling seizures and is almost always the first therapy. Medicine controls seizures for about 7 out of 10 people living with epilepsy. There are many different anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs) and different medicines help with different kinds of epilepsy/seizures. It is important to talk with your doctor about the pros and cons of the different AEDs and to never stop or change your medicine without talking to your doctor, as this could cause complications.
This type of treatment can improve seizure control, mood and quality of life over time. It is designed to prevent seizures by sending small electrical impulses to the vagus nerve in the neck and then to the brain where seizures begin. These impulses are supplied by a device similar to a pacemaker.
Medical use of cannabis has been legalized in the state of Colorado as in many other states. People living with uncontrolled seizures who have previously attempted other forms of treatment have reported beneficial effects and reduced seizure activity, especially with CBD oil. EFCO is in support of further research on CBD/medical marijuana. Early results are promising and anyone contemplating MM/CBD should be cautious in arriving at an informed treatment decision.
Brain surgery can be a way of treating certain kinds of seizures that cannot be controlled with medication or other forms of treatment. Certain testing is necessary before the operation and not all patients are good candidates for surgery. There are certain types of surgery.
The Ketogenic Diet burns fat instead of glucose and is fasting induced. It must be strictly managed and maintained daily.
The Modified Atkins Diet requires carbohydrates to be modified and monitors how food raises blood glucose levels. It is based more on portion control.
Each diet is made to fit each individual and should be done under medical supervision.
Responsive neurostimulation is a new approach to treating medically uncontrolled partial onset seizures. The RNS® System is the first device to provide responsive neurostimulation, automatically monitoring brain signals and providing stimulation to abnormal electrical brain events just when it is needed. The system is approved by FDA as an adjunctive treatment for adults with medically refractory partial seizures that come from one or two seizure targets identified by your doctor. The RNS Neurostimulator is placed under the scalp and within the skull by a surgeon. One or two leads are then placed at the seizure target and connected to the neurostimulator. After the scalp heals, the neurostimulator should not be noticeable to others. The neurostimulator continuously monitors the brain’s activity and is programmed by the epilepsy doctor to detect and record specific patterns that could lead to a seizure. When these patterns are detected, the neurostimulator responds with brief pulses of stimulation intended to disrupt the abnormal brain activity before a seizure occurs. Detection and stimulation settings are individualized for each patient’s patterns and so that stimulation is not felt. In addition, each patient gets a take-home monitor so that brain activity data can be sent to the epilepsy doctor between office visits.
The RNS System is manufactured by NeuroPace, Inc. Additional information for patients and physicians is available at their website (http://www.neuropace.com/).