International Epilepsy Day 2024 serves as a poignant reminder of the global effort to raise awareness about epilepsy. Epileptic seizures can be triggered by various factors, including flashing lights, lack of sleep, stress, and certain medications. However, triggers can vary greatly among individuals. Treatment for epilepsy typically involves a combination of medication, lifestyle modifications, and, in some cases, surgery or other interventions.
Dr G. V. Subbaiah Chowdhary , Senior Consultant Neurologist & Clinical Director, Yashoda Hospitals Hyderabad shares why it is crucial for those living with epilepsy to work closely with healthcare professionals to develop a personalized treatment plan that effectively manages their condition and improves their quality of life.
What are seizure triggers?
Dr Chowdhary says, “Seizure triggers are events or something that happens before the start of your seizure.” Here are some commonly reported seizure triggers include shared by Dr Chowdhary:
– Sleep issues such as not sleeping well, not getting enough sleep, sleep disorders like sleep apnea.
– Alcohol use, alcohol withdrawal, recreational drug use.
– Hormonal changes or menstrual hormonal changes.
– Any illness, fever.
– Flashing lights or patterns.
– skipping meals.
– Physical overexertion.
– Specific foods (caffeine is a common trigger).
– Certain times of the day or night.
– Use of certain medications. Diphenhydramine, an ingredient in cold, allergy and sleep over-the-counter products, is a reported trigger.
– Missed anti-seizure medication doses.
When diagnosing epilepsy, Dr G.V. Subbaiah comments, “Symptoms and medical history IS important and several tests to detect the cause of seizures may include:
– A neurological exam.
– Blood tests A blood sample can detect signs of infections, genetic conditions or other conditions that may be associated with seizures.
– Genetic testing.In some people with epilepsy, genetic testing may give more information about the condition and how to treat it. Genetic testing is most often performed in children but also may be helpful in some adults with epilepsy.
You also may have brain imaging tests and scans that detect brain changes:
– Electroencephalogram (EEG) :This is the most common test used to diagnose epilepsy. In this test, small metal discs called electrodes are attached to your scalp with an adhesive or cap. The electrodes record the electrical activity of your brain.
“In epilepsy, it’s common to have changes in the pattern of brain waves. This may be done while you’re awake or asleep. Recording the seizures may help determine what kind of seizures you’re having or rule out other conditions, adds Dr Subbaiah.
– Computerized tomography (CT) scan: CTscans can detect tumors, bleeding or cysts in the brain that might be causing epilepsy.
– Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): An MR uses powerful magnets and radio waves to create a detailed view of the brain. But an MRI provides a more detailed look at the brain than a CTscan.
– Positron emission tomography (PET): PETscans use a small amount of low-dose radioactive material. . Areas of the brain with low metabolism may indicate places where seizures occur.
– Single-photon emission computerized tomography (SPECT) This type of test is used if MRI and EEG didn’t pinpoint the location in the brain where the seizures start.
– Neuropsychological tests.
Treatments to control epilepsy include anti-seizure medications, special diets (usually in addition to anti-seizure medications) and surgery.
Anti-seizure medications can control seizures in about 60% to 70% of people with epilepsy. Anti-seizure medication treatment is individualized. Doctor may try one or more medications, doses of medications or a combination of medications to find what works best to control seizures.
Choice of an anti-seizure medication depends on:
– Seizure type
– Prior response to anti-seizure medications.
– Other Associated medical conditions a patient can have
– The potential for interaction with other medications you take.
– Side effects of the anti-seizure drug (if any).
– Age of the patient
– General health.
Because some anti-seizure medications are linked to birth defects, let the Doctor know if you’re pregnant or planning to become pregnant.
– If anti-seizure medications don’t control seizures, doctpr will discuss other treatment options, including special diets, medical devices or surgery.
When medicines do not provide enough control of seizures, epilepsy surgery may be an option. With epilepsy surgery, a surgeon removes the area of your brain that’s causing seizures.
Surgery usually is done when tests show that:
– Your seizures start in a small, well-defined area of your brain.
– The surgery wouldn’t affect vital functions such as speech, language, movement, vision or hearing.
Lifestyle and home remedies
This also plays an important role
– Taking medicine correctly.
– Get enough sleep.