Epilepsy is considered a neurological condition. It's caused because brain signals get mixed up and cause recurring seizures. Seizures and their symptoms may be mild or extreme and individuals experience symptoms differently, depending on the location of the disruption of electrical signals in the brain as well as their severity. Some people experience seizures that are hardly noticeable, while others may experience full-blown convulsions.
Benefits of Epilepsy Treatment
Epileptic seizures, even mild ones, can cause injury, especially if a person is driving or swimming. Such activities include those that may cause falls or accidents, such as drowning while bathing. Individuals diagnosed with epilepsy may also be at an increased risk for emotional and mental issues including anxiety and depression. Seizures that last more than a minute or two may cause permanent brain damage. Finding adequate treatment for epilepsy helps individuals lead enhanced quality lifestyles and regain their self-confidence and greater degree of independence.
Varieties of tests are used to diagnose epilepsy, such as an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scan or a behavioral exam. Blood tests can check your blood for electrolyte imbalances, diabetes, or anemia as well as infections. A doctor may also require an EEG, or electroencephalogram, which is the most common diagnostic test for determining epilepsy. This test measures and records the brain's electrical activity.
You may also undergo a CT scan, or computerized tomography. This test enables doctors to view a cross-section image of the brain and skull. This type of scan can identify abnormalities in the brain including cysts, areas of bleeding, or tumors that may lead to seizures. Another diagnostic test to determine an epilepsy diagnosis may also be requested, including a PET scan and other neural psychological tests for memory and speech assessment.
The most common treatment for individuals with epilepsy is through anti-seizure or anti-epileptic medications. Such medications effectively decrease both intensity and frequency of seizures for many. In some cases, individuals on medication may eventually be able to stop their medications after a year or two.
It's often difficult for doctors to regulate the exact dosage and type of medication that works best for every individual. Doctors typically start patients out at low dosages of a single drug and may gradually increase that dosage and combine medications if necessary.
Surgery is also an option when diagnostic tests determine seizures originate from a specific area of the brain and as long as those areas do not affect vital or sensory functions. In such a case, the surgeon removes a very small area or section of the brain believed to be the source of the seizures.
In cases where surgery to remove a portion of the brain is not possible, the surgeon may make several incisions in the brain, much like roadblocks, to prevent seizures from spreading to additional portions of the brain.
Additional therapies for epilepsy include Vagus nerve stimulation. This therapy involves the insertion of a Vagus Nerve Stimulator that's implanted like a heart pacemaker underneath the skin of your chest. Wires extending from the stimulator surround the Vagus nerve, located at the back of the neck. The Vagus nerve stimulator emits short pulses of electronic energy to the brain through the Vagus nerve, which has proven effective in reducing seizures in approximately 40% of individuals diagnosed with epilepsy. For some, this therapy is effective in completely controlling seizures.
Stem cell therapy is also an option for individuals diagnosed with intractable epilepsy.
How Much do Epilepsy Therapies and Treatments Cost?
Cost of epileptic anti-seizure and anti-epileptic drugs very depending on dosage and frequency. Anti-seizure or anti-epileptic drugs can cost hundreds of dollars a month, depending on whether brand or generic medications prove most effective. Individuals without a health insurance policy will pay higher out-of-pocket expenses than those who are covered under drug prescription plans.