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Suitable Treatment and Precautions can Control Epilepsy

Dr Madhuri Khilari,
MBBS, MD, DM Neurology, PDF Epilepsy
Consultant Neurologist
Apollo Hospitals, Jubilee Hills

Radha (name changed) was a bright and hardworking student of Psychology who had difficulty controlling her epilepsy seizures. She however, was an optimist who instead of learning to live with the condition, fought it and got a fair control on her condition. Today, she is a successful counsellor and a mother.

Understanding Epilepsy

Seizures occur from excessive firing of brain cells. Epilepsy is one of the most significant neurological disorder all over the world and a whopping 12 million Indians are suffering from it. And unfortunately there is a huge treatment gap.

Epilepsy can affect all age groups, but the causes may differ. Genetic, congenital malformations, birth trauma, lesions in brain owing to tumours, injury, infection and stroke are some of the major causes and there are signature signs to diagnose them. It is important to note these, as the treatment choices change accordingly. In order to know the cause, a physician may advise a battery of tests like EEG, CT, MRI and in appropriate cases, neurometabolic workup, genetic tests and neuropsychological evaluation.

Once the neurologists make the diagnosis, the indicated tests and a risk assessment for performing routine activities that includes cooking, driving and bathing independently are done. They take into consideration other associated medical conditions and tailor an appropriate treatment. An individual with epilepsy may need to take medication for a prolonged period and sometimes lifelong, as per the recommendation of the physician. Having said that, there are certain epilepsies that children do outgrow. Even in cases of drug refractory epilepsies surgery can give relief to a significant extent. Advanced medical treatments offer ketogenic diet, surgical options, neuromodulation procedures like vagal nerve stimulation and responsive nerve stimulation for uncontrolled epilepsies.

Tons of small precautions can help in controlling seizure that include a good compliance of medications, adhering to sleep schedule, avoiding alcohol, to name a few. People with epilepsy having active or uncontrolled seizures should avoid driving, high impact sports activities and unsupervised swimming.

People with Epilepsy Can Lead Normal Life

Today, People with Epilepsy can have a legally valid marriage, and Epilepsy is no more an illness to claim for divorce. Women with epilepsy in the reproductive age group should seek for an appropriate counselling. They should have periodic assessments and medications may be adjusted/changed before they conceive. Older women should undergo assessments for bone density that can be reduce by chronic intake of anti-epileptic medications.

There is no reason why a person with epilepsy that is well controlled should not be able to do something a normal person does. There is always a ray of hope with newer treatment modalities for the patients. Epilepsy should not be stigmatised upon. With adequate treatment and precautions, People with Epilepsy can lead highly productive lives. History has many examples of legends such as Theodore Roosevelt, Agatha Christie, Florence Griffith Joyner, Alexander and Napoleon I, among others who had conquered the condition.

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