Anti-epileptic therapy includes a variety of approaches to manage epilepsy with the goal of reducing or eliminating seizures. Depending on the type of epilepsy a patient has, it may be supervised by a specialist like a neurologist, or could be managed by a general practitioner with some additional training in epilepsy. The best option can depend on the type of seizure condition, the patient’s response to treatment, and any other conditions that might interact with treatment. Research and development in the field of anti-epileptic therapy are ongoing, with new treatment options constantly on the horizon.
One critical aspect of anti-epileptic therapy is medication, which is used in the management of epilepsy in many cases. A variety of medications can be used to reduce the frequency and intensity of seizures. Patients may need to try several drugs to find one that works for them, and could require a multi-drug regimen in some cases. Several months of careful medication adjustments may be required before the patient is comfortable.
Some other options may be considered as well. Patients can benefit from dietary modifications in some instances, especially in cases involving childhood onset. Vagus nerve stimulation is another anti-epileptic therapy that may be considered for some forms of the condition. In this treatment, a stimulating device can be worn on the skin or implanted in surgery to control severe seizures.
Surgery is another option in anti-epileptic therapy, usually considered when the patient has seizures that do not respond to treatment. Using brain imaging, it may be possible to identify a localized area of the brain where the seizures are originating, which would allow a neurosurgeon to carefully excise it to stop the seizures. More radically, a surgeon may cut through the corpus callosum, the structure that joins the two halves of the brain, for severe seizures that pose a significant risks to the patient’s health. This procedure is best performed when the patient is young, to allow time for the brain to recover.
People with a new epilepsy diagnosis may want to discuss their anti-epileptic therapy options with several medical providers to learn more about the choices. Patient advocacy organizations also have more information, and sometimes provide free counseling and information to new epilepsy patients. Informed patients who are familiar with their diagnosis and the options may be better able to advocate for themselves in discussions about how to proceed with treatment and management.