Epilepsy is a neurological disorder that causes seizures or unusual sensations and behaviors.
It’s one of the most common neurological disorders worldwide, affecting about 50 million people, according to the World Health Organization.
Is there a treatment for this chronic disorder?
During an epilepsy diagnosis, your doctor might ask various questions about your seizures. They might also recommend a special test called an electroencephalogram (EEG), or a brain scan.
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By checking for unusual electric activity, damage, or scarring to the brain, the test can help determine whether you have epilepsy. However, in some instances, the test might not reveal any signs. In this case, a diagnosis may still be reached by identifying certain symptoms.
- The first step to treating epilepsy is identifying the right medicine or anti-epileptic drug (AED). Seizure medicines can successfully control seizures in about 70% of people with epilepsy. A doctor might prescribe these medications based on age, sex, the type of seizures you have, if you’re pregnant or want to get pregnant, and other medical conditions.
- Brain surgery is another option in cases where medications don’t work. Deep brain stimulation is one such new treatment, which involves implanting electrodes into the brain and a generator into the chest to help decrease seizures.
- Diet is also a possible treatment option — the ketogenic diet has been found to be particularly helpful in childhood epilepsy, but some studies say adults can benefit too
The signs of a seizure and what a seizure looks like typically depend on what kind of seizure it is, according to the CDC. It can sometimes be hard to tell if a person is having a seizure; some people look confused or have a blank stare, while others fall suddenly with their bodies shaking. Therefore, knowing the different types of seizures and their characteristics is crucial.