Epilepsy is a chronic neurological disorder characterized by unprovoked and recurrent seizures. Seizures are sudden alterations in the electrical activity in the brain. Under normal conditions, our brain generates tiny electrical impulses simultaneously in a pattern that is transmitted to all body parts with the help of neurotransmitters.
However, in patients with epilepsy, these patterns are disturbed, resulting in repeated seizures that can cause changes in their sensations, consciousness, and muscle movements.
Generally, epilepsy is diagnosed after an individual has had at least two seizures with no identifiable cause. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), epilepsy affects nearly 50 million people around the globe. This article focuses on whether epilepsy can be cured while explaining the causes and treatments available.
Causes And Risk Factors
Experts say that almost 50 percent of people with epilepsy have no identifiable cause. But in the remaining half, these conditions can be due to varying factors that include:
- Genetics can influence the incidence of epilepsy in two ways: it can either be directly passed down from parents or it can be due to mutations of genes that make them sensitive to certain environmental conditions that could trigger seizures.
- Stroke, brain tumors, traumatic head injuries, and brain damage that occurs at birth that causes damage to the brain can lead to epilepsy.
- Infections as a result of meningitis, viral encephalitis, HIV, or other parasitic infections can also cause epilepsy.
- It is also observed that people with developmental disorders like autism, cerebral palsy, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are more likely to have epilepsy than people without these conditions.
Can Epilepsy Be Cured?
It is true that there is no cure for epilepsy. Nevertheless, with the right treatment, most people have become free of seizures and have improved the quality of their lives. Also, we can reduce the chances of developing certain conditions that could lead to epilepsy therapy for substance abuse; eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly can lower the risks of strokes; and wearing helmets when riding bikes and seatbelts when driving can lower the risks of head injuries from automobile accidents.
Doctors decide the type of treatment depending on the severity and type of seizure that the patients are experiencing. Treatments include medication, dietary changes, therapies, and surgery.
Medications are the first line of treatment after the diagnosis. At present, the Food and Drug Administration has approved 26 medications to control seizures. When choosing the drug, the doctors would consider their age, sex, mental health status, and other medical conditions so as to avoid complications.
Anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs) are the most commonly used drugs for treating epilepsy and are found to be effective in 7 out of 10 people with the condition. AEDs change the levels of chemicals in our brains and stop seizures from happening. The common types of AEDs used are sodium valproate, carbamazepine, lamotrigine, topiramate, and levetiracetam.
Only 1 percent of people will undergo surgery, according to the latest research. Surgery is only considered when there is no change in the seizure activity with medications, seizures worsen or affect the patient’s quality of life, seizures happen in the same region, and they increase the risk of epileptic seizures or death. Surgery usually involves the removal or alteration of specific areas of the brain that cause seizures. These have higher chances of stopping the seizures completely.
Therapies like vagus nerve stimulation, seizure alert systems, and implantable devices are other options for treating epilepsy. These are electrical devices implanted in the brain or chest that send electrical signals that encourage the proper functioning of brain cells.
Using these devices has proven to reduce the occurrence of seizures and the duration of each episode. However, some of these devices are associated with risks like bleeding in the brain and behavioral and memory disorders.
? Diet And Lifestyle Changes
These factors have a significant role in the incidence of seizure activity. Therefore, their management can help manage epilepsy. Low-carbohydrate ketogenic and modified Atkins diets have shown promising results in changing neuronal metabolism and reducing the frequency of seizures. Getting enough sleep, avoiding alcohol and drugs, managing stress levels, and getting physically active can also lessen the recurrence of seizures.
Even though there is no cure for epilepsy, treatments are proven to reduce the recurrence of seizures and improve people’s life expectancy and quality of life. Treatment options include anti-seizure medications, surgeries, therapies, and lifestyle changes. With the right type of treatment, people with epilepsy can live normal and seizure-free lives. Therefore, find what is best for you with the help of healthcare professionals.