Seizures and Epilepsy Treatment

A lightning storm in your brain

A seizure happens when ordinary brain activity is suddenly disrupted. It’s like a temporary short-circuit of your brain’s electrical system.

Epilepsy is a neurological condition defined by recurring, unprovoked seizures. However, not all seizures are linked to epilepsy. Non-epileptic seizures can be caused by a brain infection, psychological trauma, low blood sugar, extremely high blood pressure or low salt levels in the blood. These are considered “provoked” seizures.

Seizures can be divided into two main categories: generalized-onset or partial-onset.

  • Generalized-onset seizures start from the entire brain all at once. Warning signs can include whole body convulsions or silent staring spells.
  • Partial-onset seizures, or focal seizures, start from one part of the brain and may spread outward.  Partial seizure symptoms include jerking on one side of the body, confusion, inability to speak, staring spells, or strange sensory experiences.

However they occur, seizures are frightening and sometimes dangerous. Our epilepsy specialist will provide expert, compassionate care, helping to identify the cause of your seizures and get them under control.

Epilepsy Treatment Options

Aurora BayCare’s epileptologist and neuroscience team will help you manage this condition. Our goal is to help patients lead normal, active lives, free from seizures and medical side effects. Epilepsy treatment options might include:

Epilepsy medications
Anti-seizure medication is usually the first step in any epilepsy treatment plan. Most people can become seizure-free by taking an antiepileptic medication. Others will achieve significant improvements in the duration and intensity of their seizures.

Finding the right dosage and combination of drugs is a complex process. It’s often a balance between controlling your seizures and minimizing any related side effects. The only way to find the correct dose is through trial, monitoring, and ongoing adjustments.

Many people with epilepsy won’t require medications their whole life. Your doctor will work with you to help you bring your condition under control and evaluate when medication can be decreased or eliminated.

Epilepsy surgery
Surgery may be an option when your seizures originate from a specific, defined part of the brain. If this area of the brain doesn’t interfere with speech, mobility, or quality of life, your doctor can remove the area of the brain that’s triggering the seizures. In some situations, surgery may also be used to prevent the seizure site from communicating with the rest of your brain.

Surgical options include:

  • Lesionectomy or focal resection: This is surgery to remove the area of the brain that’s triggering seizures.
  • Corpus callostomy: This surgery severs the corpus callosum in order to stop seizures from spreading from one hemisphere to another.
  • Laser interstitial thermal therapy (LITT): This emerging technique uses laser therapy to kill a tumor or a targeted area of the brain responsible for causing seizures. LITT is minimally invasive surgery, as it requires a tiny incision and is performed using a laser catheter.  

The advanced operative techniques and improved brain mapping available today make surgery a safe, effective option that can help patients return to their normal lives.

Brain devices
Electrical stimulation can normalize brain activity. Implantable devices include vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) and responsive neurostimulation (RNS) systems. These devices act like a "pacemaker for the brain,” delivering electric shocks to control or prevent seizures. Most people using these devices will still need to take anti-seizure medications, but they may be able to lower their dosage.

Special diets
Diet therapy may be a treatment option for some children with epilepsy. Diet therapies may include the Ketogenic diet, a modified Atkins diet, or a low glycemic diet. These diets should not be used without medical guidance.

Clinical trials
We can enroll our patients in clinical trials for promising new antiepileptic drugs not yet available to the general public. These investigational drug therapies may offer hope to patients with seizures that are particularly difficult to control.

Epilepsy Specialist in Green Bay
If you are experiencing seizures and think you may be suffering from epilepsy, call Aurora BayCare to schedule a consultation with our epilepsy specialist.

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