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Epilepsy Management & Treatment

When epilepsy is diagnosed, it is important to begin treatment as quickly as possible. The specialists in the UI Health Epilepsy Program work together to create a comprehensive treatment program that may include medication, dietary, and surgical solutions.

Medication Management

Medicine is the most common treatment option for controlling seizures and is usually the first option considered after a diagnosis has been confirmed.

There are many different kinds of antiseizure medication that can improve control and help prevent seizures. Antiseizure medications work to help control and decrease the frequency of seizures - they do not fix the problems that causes seizures. Our neurologists will work with you to decide on medication treatment plan that considers factors like age, lifestyle, type of seizures, potential side effects, and other medications you may take.

It can take time to find the right medication and or combination of medications that work best for you. Regular, proper medication use is important to controlling your seizures. You should never stop taking or change your medicine without speaking with your doctor.

Dietary Therapy

Dietary therapy is a complementary treatment option, used along with seizure medications, to help improve control over seizures.

A high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet called a ketogenic diet, or keto diet, is sometimes used for treating seizures in cases where medication alone doesn't work. The keto diet can help control seizures and is usually prescribed to children with epilepsy who have difficulty controlling their seizures; adults also may benefit from the keto diet.

The body usually uses glucose - a type of sugar from carbohydrates in foods like sugar, bread, and pasta - as an energy source. Chemicals called ketones are made when the body uses fat for energy; this is called ketosis. With the ketogenic diet, the body mostly uses ketones instead of glucose for its energy source.

Your doctor will discuss dietary options and find the best plan that works for your lifestyle and medical needs. Diet options will be prescribed and carefully monitored by the physician and a nutritionist.

Surgery

Surgery is a treatment option used to help improve control over seizures when they are not controlled by medications. Surgery can significantly reduce or even stop seizures in some patients.

There are various types of epilepsy surgery, and the type of surgery that may be recommended will depend on many factors based on medical history and presurgical evaluation. Some key factors are the type of seizures and where they start in the brain. If seizures are coming from one specific part of the brain, surgical removal of that area may be an option.

Epilepsy patients will be evaluated by one of our expert neurosurgeons and may have additional testing to confirm the exact location in the brain where the seizures start and what types of surgical options may be available.

Deep Brain Stimulation

A type of surgical neuromodulation, deep brain stimulation (DBS) uses a surgically implanted electrode to send electrical currents deep within the structures of the brain. DBS traditionally has been used to treat unrelieved pain, but it also has been shown to be an effective treatment for disorders like epilepsy.

DBS is an option for adult patients for whom medications alone have not been effective in treating epilepsy. DBS does not cure epilepsy, but it can help decrease the number and severity of seizures. Continuing medication therapy after receiving the device often is recommended.