November is Epilepsy awareness month!
Epilepsy is a condition in which one has seizures. Seizures are an electrical disruption between the connection of neurons in the brain. If someone has had more then one seizure seperated by 24 hours, without a clear provoking cause, then they are said to have epilepsy. Epilepsy is one of the most common neurological conditions occuring in about 50 million people in the world. If someone has a seizure, they should seek medical attention. Diagnosis of epilepsy is made by clinical history and tools such as MRI studies and electroencephalogram studies which analyze the electrical activity of the brain. Someone with epilepsy will need to have a physician's care and treatment. People with epilepsy can live full and rewarding lives. It is important to see your physician and take medication as prescribed. One of the most common reasons for a patient with epilepsy to have breakthrough seizures is missing doses of medications. It is important to have adequate sleep as sleep deprivation can also contribute to breakthrough seizures. It is important to mantain follow up appointments so that medications and clinical progress may be monitored.The majority of patients can achieve the goal of good seizure control with no further breakthrough seizures with medications. Unfortunately up to 30-40% of patients may have breakthrough seizures despite medications.There are new treatments and ongoing reaserch to improve the care of patients with epilepsy. Women of childbearing years should take folic acid. They should discuss contraception and family planning issues with their physicians. Some seizure medications may be unsafe during pregnancy and doses may need to be adjusted during pregnancy. Folic acid can decrease the risk of neural tube defects. Certain seizure medications can reduce the efficacy of contraceptive medications. Patients with epilepsy should exercise standard seizure precaution.One risk that is often not thought about is the risk of drowning. Patients with epilepsy should not take baths or swim unless someone is around them to supervise. Likewise, patients with epilepsy should not perform activities like swimming alone, climbing ladders. Although, there are some precautions patients with epilepsy must take, they can still live full lives.They can be teachers, singers, actors and much more.They cvan have families and be leaders in their community If you or someone you know has a seizure, call 911. It is then important to establish care with a local neurologist.There are so many treatment options today and ongoing research to improve the quality of care in patients with epilepsy.
Sharisse Stephenson, MD
Board Certified Neurologist
Board Certified Headache Specialist
Board Certified Brain Injury Specialist
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