Epilepsy is a neurological disorder that is caused by nerve cell activity being disrupted inside the brain, which often leads to seizures. Seizures can manifest in very different ways, ranging from simply staring blankly for a few seconds to repeatedly twitching your arms and legs. However, no matter how mild, seizures can be very dangerous since they begin happening without warning and could occur during dangerous situations, such as while driving or swimming. While it can be difficult to stop seizures entirely, here are some tips for preventing their occurrence.
Most epileptic seizures are associated with particular triggers or changes in your daily habits or routines. If you can learn to identify what triggers your seizures to occur, you can avoid these behaviors and hopefully prevent future seizures from happening as often. Some common behaviors and factors that often trigger epileptic seizures include:
- Alcohol or drug abuse
- Going through the process of quitting alcohol or drugs
- Hormonal changes in women, often caused by pregnancy or menstruation
- Stress, anxiety, or other emotional issues
- Mental strain, such as solving a very complex problem
- Change in medications, or skipping a dose of anti-seizure medication
- An overstimulation of the senses, such as flashing light, watching television, playing video games, or working on a computer.
- A change in your sleep schedule or significant sleep deprivation
Most people with epilepsy can become seizure-free, or at least decrease the frequency and intensity of their seizures by taking anti-epileptic medications. However, finding the right medication and dosage can be a very time consuming process. Things your doctor will consider include your condition, the frequency of your seizures, any other medications you may be taking, and your age.
If tests have been done that indicate your seizures are originating in a small, well-defined area of your brain that doesn’t interfere with any vital functions, then corrective surgery might be an option. During this procedure, your doctor would remove the area of your brain that is causing the seizures.
If the seizures are originating in a part of your brain that cannot be removed, then your doctor might recommend a type of surgery that involves making several cuts to prevent the seizures from spreading to other parts of your brain.
There are other types of therapies that can help to prevent seizures as well. These include:
- Vagus nerve stimulation: This involves implanting a small device under the skin in your chest that is attached to the vagus nerve in your neck. The device sends bursts of electrical energy through the vagus nerve to your brain to prevent seizures from occurring. This device is usually successful at reducing seizures by 20% to 40%.
- Ketogenic diet: This is an option that is popular among children with epilepsy. It involves following a strict diet that is high in fats and low in carbohydrates to reduce the risk of seizures.