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Understanding Epilepsy—Treatment Options

Epilepsy is a chronic disorder affecting the brain. In most cases, two or more seizures that are not caused by known medical conditions (alcohol withdrawal, low blood sugar, etc.) will solidify a diagnosis of epilepsy. While the determinant cause of a patient's epilepsy may not be known, studies have suggested that brain injury or family history may contribute to its origin. Outward symptoms of epilepsy vary. Epileptic seizures may cause someone to project a look of confusion or to appear as if they are staring at something. More obvious signs might be falling or shaking, or lack of mental clarity/confusion. It is not uncommon for those with epilepsy to suffer from other neurological difficulties as well. Epilepsy patients may have many shared indicators such as similar electroencephalography (EEG) testing, family or clinical history, etc., but some may have outlying indicators also.

Epileptics may suffer from several types of seizures. Generally, seizures are classified into two basic groups—generalized seizures and focal seizures. Let's look at some factors for both.

1) Generalized Seizures (both sides of brain affected)

Generalized seizures, classified in two categories, may affect both sides of the brain and can produce multiple symptoms.

Absence Seizures

Absence seizures, formerly known as petit mal seizures, may cause multiple symptoms such as staring and rapid eye blinking.

Tonic-Clonic Seizures

Tonic-clonic seizures (grand mal) can cause many distressing symptoms such as:

  • Loss of Consciousness
  • Muscle Jerks and/or Spasms
  • Falling
  • Crying Out

2) Focal Seizures (one area of the brain)

Focal seizures, sometimes referred to as partial seizures, affect a specific area of the brain. There are several types of focal seizures.

Simple Focal Seizures

Simple focal seizures usually affect only a small area of the brain. These seizures may cause a myriad of symptoms from twitching, strange tastes and/or smells, changes in sensation, and more.

Complex Focal Seizures

Complex focal seizures bring about confusion or a feeling of being 'out of touch' or disoriented. Someone in the midst of a complex focal seizure may simply be unable to respond to comments, questions, or other—for several minutes.

Way of Life

Epilepsy can negatively impact one's life, especially if seizures are recurrent. Recurrent seizures can make daily life difficult, from work responsibilities to social outings. And seizures that continue to occur and are left untreated can potentially cause anxiety/depression, injury, or even death. But the good news is—treatment works for most people.

Treatment/ Medications

Most people can control their epilepsy with the use of anti-epileptic medications. Compounding pharmacists can work with your doctor to craft epilepsy medications specifically to his or her directions, sometimes combining multiple medications for ease of use. Talk to your doctor about compounded medications and their many benefits. Some of the more commonly used anti-epileptic medications are listed below in alphabetical order.

  • Acetazolamide
  • Carbamazepine
  • Clobazam
  • Clonazepam
  • Eslicarbazepine acetate
  • Ethosuximide
  • Gabapentin
  • Lacosamide
  • Lamotrigine
  • Levetiracetam
  • Nitrazepam
  • Oxcarbazepine
  • Perampanel
  • Phenobarbital
  • Phenytoin
  • Piracetam
  • Pregabalin
  • Primidone
  • Rufinamide
  • Sodium valproate
  • Stiripentol
  • Tiagabine
  • Topiramate
  • Vigabatrin
  • Zonisamide
  • "It is rare to find health professionals who are so willing to educate the patient on what they need to know."

    Clair C. | West Hollywood, CA