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Diagnosis

As there is no single diagnostic test that is available to diagnose epilepsy, the doctor (the neurologist) will diagnose epilepsy based on a thorough evaluation of the symptoms, the first seizure, family history and various tests including EEG(Electroencephalography),CAT scan,  MRI scan etc. The doctor is the best person to provide detailed information on the treatments and what might work for the person.

Treatments

Medication

Anti-Epileptic Drugs (AED) stabilise the electrical activity in the brain and prevent the tendency of developing ‘electrical storms,’ thereby reducing the occurrence of seizures. It is important to maintain a relatively constant amount of drugs in the bloodstream throughout the day and night. A missed dose will reduce the level of medication in the blood and may result in breakthrough seizures. 

Surgery

If epilepsy does not respond to AED, surgical treatment by removing the part of the brain that is believed to be causing the epileptic activity (for example a scarred hippocampus), might be a good option. 

Neurosurgery is not used to cure the epilepsy, but to improve the severity or frequency of the seizures by removing the seizure focus or by decreasing the ability of seizures to spread. 

Vagus Nerve Stimulation (VNS)

This treatment is usually used for those with drug-resistant epilepsy. VNS does not involve an operation on the brain, but instead a stimulator (like a pace-maker) is placed under the skin on the left side of the chest that regularly stimulates the vagus nerve in the person’s neck. This sends impulses to the person’s brain, which helps to prevent excess electrical activity that causes seizures.  This treatment does not usually cure the epilepsy, but can reduce the frequency and severity of the seizure. 

Complementary treatments

  • Ketogenic diet: This is a high fat, low carbohydrate diet, which has been used since the 1920s for the treatment of epilepsy, mostly in children. It is only considered where medication has been ineffective. 
  • Relaxation, yoga, aromatherapy, acupuncture and homeopathy: None of the complementary treatments have been shown conclusively to work alone. It should not be used as an alternative to conventional treatment, but may be used as an addition.

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