Epilepsy Treatments

When it comes to treating #epilepsy there are various treatments available…

When it comes to treating epilepsy there are various treatments available.

When a person is first diagnosed with epilepsy, they are usually given medications called anti-epileptic drugs or (AEDs), these aim to reduce seizures.

Many AEDs can have side effects and sadly not every medication will be an instant success.

For many, it’s a case of trial and error. It can be normal for people to try several medications before they find one that works for them, and for lots of people, they can even take several  different medications at the same time.

Your body can also take a little while to adjust to these new medications. Strong side effects may be temporary, so if you’re trying new medicine and your neurologist wants  you to continue with it a little longer, don’t be upset as the side effects may soon subside.

If you have tried loads of medications and haven’t come across one that has helped yet, don’t lose hope. There is always the possibility that one in the future will work perfectly for you.

Tips:

  • Try to take your medication at regular intervals, E.G. If you take them twice a day, try spacing them 12hrs apart, and use an alarm to remind you. Originally I would take my medication whenever I remembered, and it wasn’t a successful tactic.
  • Withdrawing from medication – If you decide that you no longer want to take your medication, always consult your doctor and you will be slowly taken off  your tablets. If you suddenly stop taking your medication, you could become very unwell.
  • If you decide to take a new herbal remedy consider consulting with a healthcare professional or pharmacist. Many remedies can interact with medications and epilepsy. For example, St. John’s Wort is not recommended for people with epilepsy as it interacts with medications.

Anti-epileptic drugs are normally the first form of treatment for epilepsy, but they are not the only form of treatment for epilepsy. If you find that your seizures are difficult to manage, there are other treatments such as:

Ketogenic Diet –  Which is a high fat low carbohydrate diet, to help control epilepsy. This diet is mainly used for children, but some adults may benefit from it. If you are considering the ketogenic diet it’s recommended that you to speak to your doctor and dietician for advice and supervision.

Surgeries:

VNS – Vagus Nerve Stimulation is an implanted device which is similar to a pacemaker; it sends electrical impulses to the vagus nerve (the nerve between the neck at the brain) at regular intervals. The number of impulses can be increased by sweeping a magnet across the VNS generator, preventing or stopping a seizure. Want to know more? Learn more here

DBS – Deep Brain Stimulation, is an implanted medical device that sends electrical impulses to the brain. This is a fairly new epilepsy treatment, it was originally used for conditions such as Parkinson’s Disease. It aims to reduce excess electrical activity in the brain and It may be offered to people who cannot have brain surgery. Its effectiveness for epilepsy is still being researched. You and read more about DBS, here.

Brain Surgery involves being referred to a specialist brain surgery clinic. The overall aim of brain surgery is naturally to reduce to stop seizures but to also consider the patients quality of life. Brian surgery, is frequently carried out to people who have head traumas or tumours is which affected or caused their epilepsy, but brain surgery can be offered to many people, and is becoming increasing popular in helping control people’s seizures. If you want to know more about brain surgery, you can learn more here.

These are the main types of treatments that a neurologist might suggest to help control someones epilepsy.

In the UK, 7 in 10 could be seizure free with the right treatment, 5 in 10 currently are.

Hope it’s been helpful! If you have any questions or comments feel free to let me know!

Thanks for reading!

Becky 🙂

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Medication and Body Image

How medication altered my view on body image.

If you have epilepsy you will be on medication, and we all know that medications come with side effects.

I have tried quite a few different medications over the years to try to help control my epilepsy, and many of them had side effects such as nausea, headaches, mood changes. Etc. but not many people tell you that they can also cause you to gain weight.

When I began taking anti-epileptic drugs I was 14yrs old. I was tall and slight in my build. The moment I began taking the medication, my weight increased and my face plumped out, and when your 14yrs old this is the last thing that you want to happen to you.  I couldn’t do anything to slim down and it wasn’t for what I was eating. I found myself skipping meals to try to help lose weight, which obviously didn’t work. As a teenager I didn’t realised to danger I was potentially putting myself at, as skipping meals could have triggered seizures.

Even though medications altered for a few years, my weight either stayed the same or it increased. I never returned to my original size I was before.

I used to hate being around my friends sometimes, especially during summer or if we went swimming, as they seemed so perfect and slim. I realised how self-conscious I was becoming.

When I was 20 I was offered to change medications. This one did have a warning of weight loss. Thankfully it has worked for my epilepsy, and it certainly worked for the weight loss as well.

Within 3 months of using the medication I had dropped from a (UK) dress size 16 to a size 6 (btw I’m 5’10 tall).

Before I took this medication, I assumed everyone would be praising me for looking better like you always see with other people who have lost weight. But they didn’t. Everyone thought I was ill. Some people approached me and bluntly asked me if I was unwell.

My family were beside themselves and my Dad was constantly trying to give me fried foods.

I thought that I would be viewed differently be people. I thought men would find me more attractive and that I would be more socially accepted by friends and other people. It’s not the case at all. Apart from the people who thought I was dying, every other social encounter remained the same, and I never had a new meeting with anyone which was different from before. People accepted me the same, because I was the same person.

I think we have been far too conditioned by media to believe that looking a certain way is attractive. With attraction, the same amount of men noticed me, whether I was slim or not. When I actually consider the men I like. It’s not the type; it’s the personality that’s the most important. If I think about my perfect guy, I don’t instantly think about a man in a magazine, and that was something I didn’t appreciate when I was 20. I guess I thought that all men wanted women who looked a certain way. But it’s not true.

If you were in the consultant’s room with me when I decided to choose my current medication then, yes, you would know that the weight loss played a part in my decision-making. Since taking this medication it has been a tough road, where I have had terrible nausea, been unable to eat and worried many people, but I am pleased to say those side effects have passed and that my weight has now plateaued to a healthy size 10.

This is just one area of which medication can have an effect on your life and I would like to explore others in the future. But as I grew up with epilepsy as teenager to a young adult I consider body image to be high on the agenda for many people.

My body image had certainly affected me, but on reflection, the people in my life have always supported me and only had my best interests at heart, what I look like has never mattered to them, and that’s true for everyone we care about. We just love them and want them to be OK.

Thanks for reading!

Becky 🙂