Epilepsy refers to a chronic disorder which results in recurrent and unprovoked seizures. A person is considered epileptic if they two of these seizures (or one with chances of getting another) that are not connected to known and reversible medical condition such as withdrawal of alcohol or exceedingly low blood sugar.
Epilepsy seizures may be connected to injuries of the brain, or a family history. However, the cause of epilepsy is unknown completely. The term epilepsy does not relate to the cause of or severity of the seizures.
There are many hospitals in the United States that offer specialized treatments for Epilepsy. However, travel is needed to access these healthcare facilities. It is notable that insurance service providers cover medical expenses but not travel costs. Patients therefore need to make their own travel arrangements wisely so that the cost of travel remains low.
If you have already identified the health center for your Epilepsy treatment, consultation or second opinion, you can go ahead and plan your travel. Otherwise, you can check our list of healthcare facilities in the US that provide specialized treatments for Epilepsy. In case you are unable to meet your travel costs, you can check our directory of charitable organizations that help in the arrangement of cost-free travel for medical purposes.
Majority of individuals suffering from epilepsy experiences more than one form of seizure. They may also have other underlying neurological complications too. In some cases, electroencephalogram (EEG) testing, family and clinical histories as well as outlooks are similar in a group of individuals suffering from epilepsy. In this way, their condition can be referred to as a particular epilepsy syndrome.
Epilepsy can affect an individual’s relationships, safety, driving, work and so much more. The perception of the public and treatment of epilepsy are more problematic than the epilepsy seizures. Seizures can be triggered by several factors. These include the following;
- Head trauma
- High fever
- Alcohol withdrawal
- Extremely low blood sugar
Epilepsy is common around the world, affecting 65 million individuals globally. It affects approximately three million individuals in the United States. Any individual can develop epilepsy. However, this condition is occurs more frequently in children and older adults and occurs slightly more in males compared to females.
Symptoms of Epilepsy
Seizures remain the most common symptom of this condition. The manifestations differ from one person to the next based on the type of seizure experienced.
- Focal (partial) seizures. This issimple partial seizure does not involve loss of consciousness and includes the following symptoms;
- alterations to sense of taste, smell, sight, hearing, or touch
- tingling and twitching of limbs
- Complex partial seizuresinvolve loss of consciousness and with the following symptoms;
- staring blankly
- performing repetitive movements
- Generalized seizures. These involves the whole brain and occur in three manifestations;
- Absence seizures (petit mal seizures) that cause blank stare. This can also cause lip smacking or blinking and a short loss of awareness.
- Tonic seizuresthat cause stiffness of muscles.
- Atonic seizures that lead to loss of muscle control and can make the patient fall down abruptly.
- Clonic seizures. Theseare characterized by repeated, jerky movements of the face, neck, and arm muscles.
There are many factors that can trigger epileptic seizures. These include the following;
- bright lights, flashing lights, or patterns
- caffeine, alcohol, medicines, or drugs
- illness or fever
- lack of sleep
- skipping meals, overeating, or specific food ingredients
The causes of epilepsy in 60 percent of patients are completely unknown. However, quite a number of things can lead to seizures. These include the following;
- brain tumor or cyst
- dementia or Alzheimer’s disease
- infectious diseases such as AIDS and meningitis
- lack of oxygen to the brain
- maternal drug use, prenatal injury, brain malformation, or lack of oxygen at birth
- other vascular diseases
- scarring on the brain after a brain injury (post-traumatic epilepsy)
- serious illness or very high fever
- stroke, which is a leading cause of epilepsy in people over age 35
- traumatic brain injury
Where to Go for Epilepsy Treatment
There are many hospitals in the US where patients can seek treatments for epilepsy. These facilities have the equipments, technology, staff and medications that help them treat even the most difficult medical conditions. Among the best medical facility for the treatment of epilepsy in the United States include the following;
- Mayo Clinic
Experts found in epilepsy treatments in this hospital work together to provide specialized care to each patient. The world-recognized epilepsy teams in Mayo Clinic consists of neurologists, neurosurgeons, imaging specialists (radiologists), mental health experts (neuropsychologists) and other professionals working together to provide comprehensive care you need as a patient.
Treatment of Epilepsy
The doctor has to look at the patient’s medical history as well as the symptoms in order to determine the tests necessary for diagnosis. A neurological test will be applied to look at the patient’s mental functioning and motor abilities.
In the process of diagnosis, other complications that cause seizures must be ruled out. The doctor will therefore order complete blood chemistry analysis and count. These blood tests will look for the following;
- blood glucose levels
- liver and kidney function
- signs of infectious diseases
Majority of individuals are capable of managing epilepsy. The treatment options used will depend on the seriousness of the symptoms, the patient’s health and how well the patient is able to respond to therapies. These treatment options include;
- Anti-epileptic (anticonvulsant, antiseizure) drugs. These medications can reduce the frequency of seizures. In some patients, they get rid of seizures. To be successful, the medication must be taken exactly as advised by the doctor.
- Brain surgery: The brain part that causes seizure activity can be removed or altered.
- Ketogenic diet: More than 50 percent of individuals who do not respond to medication benefit from this diet that is low in carbohydrate and high in fats.
- Vagus nerve stimulator: This device is surgically inserted under the skin on the chest and electrically stimulates the nerve that runs through your neck. This can help thwart seizures.
Medications for epilepsy
These are anitseizure drugs that help reduce the number or frequency or severity of seizures. They cannot stop a seizure that is already in process and they cannot cure epilepsy. They can be taken orally or as an injection.
- carbamazepine (Tegretol)
- ethosuximide (Zarontin)
- lamotrigine (Lamictal)
- levetiracetam (Keppra)
- topiramate (Topamax)
- valproic acid (Depakote)
Surgery comes with risks that include offending reactions to anesthesia, infections and bleeding. The brain surgery can result in cognitive changes in some cases. It is therefore wise to discuss your situation with the doctor thoroughly and seek second opinions before reaching the final decision.
Risks Associated with Epilepsy
There are quite a number of rsk factors associated with epilepsy and seizures. These include the following;
- Abnormal blood vessels in the brain
- Alzheimer’s disease (late in the illness)
- Autism spectrum disorder
- Bleeding into the brain
- Brain tumors
- Cerebral palsy
- Children experiencing seizures in the first month of life
- Children who are born underweight
- Children who are born with abnormal areas in the brain
- Conditions with intellectual and developmental disabilities
- Family history of epilepsy or fever-related seizures
- Fever-related (febrile) seizures that are unusually long
- Infections of the brain: abscess, meningitis, or encephalitis
- Long episodes of seizures or repeated seizures called status epilepticus
- Mild head injuries, like concussion with just a brief loss of consciousness, do not cause epilepsy. But the effect of repeated mild head injuries and epilepsy is unknown.
- Seizures occurring within days after head injury (“early posttraumatic seizures”)
- Serious brain injury or lack of oxygen to the brain
- Stroke resulting from blockage of arteries
- Use of illegal drugs such as cocaine
Who Can Go for Epilepsy Treatment
If you are experiencing signs and symptoms of epilepsy and seizure, you should go for epilepsy diagnosis and treatment. Individuals with a family history of the condition should have their children tested as early as possible to rule out or treat the condition. The same case applies to the people who have the risk factors of the condition and suffering from or being exposed to chances of developing the disease.