Diagnosis, treatments, and ways to cope with this complex disorder
Epilepsy Treatment Options
There is no known cure for epilepsy. A variety of treatments is available depending on the type or types of seizures a child has.
Medications: Seizure medications, or antiepileptic drugs (AEDs), can be used to treat children as well as adults. While these medications do not cure epilepsy, they do help stop seizures from occurring. “There are currently more than a dozen good anticonvulsant/antiepileptic drugs available for treatment of epilepsy,” says Dr. Joshi.
“Unfortunately many of these drugs have various side effects,” Dr. Joshi says. These can range from grogginess and dizziness to nausea and unsteadiness on the feet, all of which can be difficult on kids and parents alike. “With a good clinical history and partnership with parents, most children can be placed on an anticonvulsant regimen that balances drug efficacy against side effects,” Dr. Joshi adds.
Epilepsy research has come a long way in recent years, as nine new drugs have been approved for use by the FDA just within the last 10 years. But what works for one child may not work for another, and patients may have to try several medications or take various medications at the same time to control their seizures.
Triggers: While epilepsy itself can not be prevented, you may be able to pinpoint triggers to your child’s seizures. Often a missed dose of medication, lack of sleep, illness, and stress can all contribute to increased seizure activity. Ultimately a plan that helps minimize those triggers can help to control epilepsy.
Diet: Another option for treating epilepsy especially for children is the ketogenic diet. This special high-fat, low-carb diet (which pays particular attention to calorie, fluid, and protein measurements and must be monitored by a dietician) helps control seizure activity for some children. Both Adam and Grace have tried the ketogenic diet, and while Adam no longer uses this treatment option, Grace is currently doing very well on it. According to her dad Kevin, she is now only on two medications for her seizures, down from five prior to going on the diet and her all-time high of taking 13 different medications at one time.
Although only used as a last resort, surgery which targets the focus of the seizures is an option for some children with refractory seizures.
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