What treatment options are there?
Epilepsy is sometimes referred to as a long-term condition, as people often live with it for many years, or for life. Although generally epilepsy cannot be ‘cured’, for most people, seizures can be 'controlled' (stopped) so that epilepsy has little or no impact on their lives. So treatment is often about managing seizures in the long-term.
Most people with epilepsy take anti-seizure medication (ASM), previously known as anti-epileptic drugs or AEDs, to stop their seizures from happening. However, there are other treatment options for people whose seizures are not controlled by ASM.
Types of treatment
Treatment is usually only considered after a diagnosis of epilepsy has been made which usually happens after someone has had repeated seizures. A diagnosis should be made by a specialist, preferably with expertise in epilepsy. This is recommended by NICE (the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence).
In some rare situations treatment might be considered after just a single seizure. This is usually only when a doctor thinks that it is very likely that you will have further seizures. If this is the case they may suggest starting treatment straightaway.
Anti-seizure medication (ASM), previously known as anti-epileptic drugs or AEDs, is the main type of treatment for most people with epilepsy, that aims to stop seizures from happening.
The ketogenic diet is one treatment option for children or adults with epilepsy whose seizures are not controlled with AEDs. The diet may help to reduce the number or severity of seizures and may have other positive effects.
Vagus nerve stimulation therapy is a treatment for epilepsy that involves a stimulator (or 'pulse generator') which is connected, inside the body, to the left vagus nerve in the neck. The stimulator sends regular, mild electrical stimulations through this nerve to help calm down the irregular electrical brain activity that leads to seizures.
Brain surgery or neurosurgery is one way of treating epilepsy. Certain criteria have to be met and tests have to be done to assess suitability.
Deep brain stimulation therapy is a surgical treatment which aims to reduce seizures not controlled with medication, and where surgery to treat the cause of seizures is not possible. It involves implanting electrodes into specific areas of the brain.
With talk in the media about the use of cannabis products to treat epilepsy, generating interest and confusion, we outline the different forms of cannabis, their legality and their safety.
Pharmacists play a key role in helping to manage healthcare for people in the community. They are qualified to help you to use medicines safely, to help your medicines work as effectively as possible for you and to provide other services to help you stay well.
Medical appointments can be very important, but time is often limited, so it is useful to prepare beforehand. Here are some suggestions to help make the most of your appointment or review.
Managing your treatment is an important part of managing your epilepsy, and seeing whether your medication is working. This might include having a care plan, including a treatment plan.
The decision whether to start taking anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs) can be difficult, and there is a lot to think about. Here we look at the benefits and risks of taking, or not taking, AEDs.
If someone has not had a seizure for two or more years then they may think about withdrawing (coming off) their AEDs.
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