Epilepsy is a neurological disorder of the CNS, in which the neuronal activity is distorted, causing periods of unusual activity or seizures, and loss of consciousness. The symptoms of the seizure vary widely. Some people with the epilepsy simply stare for few seconds blankly during a seizure, while others twitch their arms and legs repeatedly. According to a report, 2 million people in United States are being diagnosed with epilepsy or have experienced an unprovoked seizure. Unfortunately, if you or any dear one of you has been diagnosed with epilepsy, you will be keen to know the answers of the questions like, “Can epilepsy be cured?” In this article,you will find the answer and the remedies and treatments of the epilepsy will be discussed in detail.
Can Epilepsy Be Cured?
Epilepsy cannot be totally treated in real sense of term because like hypertension, asthma and diabetes mellitus, it is a disease which can only be controlled. Fortunately, 75% of the seizures with epilepsy can be totally controlled. And after having anti-epileptic treatments, the seizures stop and need no further treatment in some cases, especially in children. And on the other side, you should know some fits are even not cured after surgery. So you need not to lose hope by the diagnosis of epilepsy, it can be controlled well and will not affect your normal life.
So, How to Treat Epilepsy
There are some really helpful treatments of epilepsy. On first step, medication is given; if medication doesn’t treat the condition, then surgery or other types of treatments can be proposed.
Can epilepsy be cured? The answer has been cleared above. As that been said, it can be totally controlled with medications. The first choice of treatment of epilepsy is usually anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs). Seizures in the 70% of the epileptic patients can be cured by the use of AEDs. Anti-epileptic drugs do not cure epilepsy, but only prevent the reoccurrence of seizures in patients. These AEDs are of different types, and they usually perform their function by changing the levels of chemicals in the brain that conduct the electrical impulses. In this way, the chances of seizure are reduced. Commonly used AEDs are carbamazepine, oxcarbazepine, sodium valproate, lamotrigine, ethosuximide and topiramate.
Usually, the choice of the medications is made according to the severity of the seizures and the previous history of the patient. Mostly patients are treated with one or maximally two AEDs. The treatment duration depends upon the type of epilepsy, age of patient and the control of the seizures, etc. However, the treatment should be continued for 3 years after the control of the seizures. It should never be stopped suddenly and must only be stopped after consulting the doctor.
Surgery is recommended to those patients whose tests show that their seizures originate in a small area of the brain that does not interfere with the vital functions of speech, vision, hearing, language and motor functions. The brain area causing seizures is removed by the doctor during the surgery. If the area of seizures origin is a part of brain controlling the movements, speech and other functions, then you may be awake during the surgery. The group of surgeons performing your surgery will monitor and ask you questions during the procedure.
There can be such a situation that the brain tissue causing the seizures is placed in an area which can’t be removed, then the doctors pursue for a different type of surgery, in which multiple cuts are given in the brain (multiple subpial transaction). The arrangement of cuts is so designed to prevent the seizures from spreading to other areas of brain.
After the surgery, the patients are advised to take the medicines for a prescribed time period to avoid the recurrence of the seizures. The dosage can be reduced afterwards.In few cases, the surgery of epilepsy can cause complications like permanently altering cognitive abilities.
So, can epilepsy be cured by surgery? Like medication, it controls epilepsy, instead of curing it.
- Alternative Procedures
- Vagus nerve stimulation
Vagus nerve stimulation involves the surgical implantation of small electrical device, similar to the pacemaker, under the skin near the clavicle (collar bone).
The device is attached to the wire that is wrapped around the vagus nerve in the neck region. It passes regular dose of electrical stimulation to the nerve. The stimulation of the nerve can reduce the severity and frequency of the seizures. If the patient feels the warning signs and symptoms of the seizures, he can activate the extra burst of stimulation to the nerve, which can prevent the occurrence of seizures.
The exact mechanism involved behind it is still not known, but it is thought that the stimulation of vagus nerve alters the chemical transmissions in the brain. Most people having undergone vagus nerve stimulation also need to take AEDs.
- Deep Brain Stimulation
In this technique, electrodes are implanted into the specific areas of the brain for the reduction of abnormal electrical activity associated with the seizures. These electrodes are controlled by external device, which is implanted beneath the skin of the chest, and is always kept on. Frequency of seizures can be reduced by it but bleeding on brain, depression and memory loss may occur as side effects.
- Ketogenic Diets
Can epilepsy be cured by ketogenic diets? Like other methods, it just controls the symptoms. Ketogenic diet is a diet containing high fatty content and lower carbohydrates and protein, and it is assumed that ketogenic diet makes seizures happen less by altering the chemical composition of the brain. Before the invention of AEDs, these diets were used as remedies, but now, these are not recommended to the adults due to the facts that severity of fats are related to diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.
However, these are sometimes advised for the children with epilepsy, because the children with seizures difficult to be controlled by AEDs can benefitfrom this diet, without worrying too much about possible side effects. But the use of ketogenic diet should only be advised by the epilepsy specialist doctor with the help of dietician.