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Epilepsy Health Center

Medical Reference Related to Epilepsy

  1. Epilepsy and Driving - Topic Overview

    If you have seizures that alter your awareness, consciousness, or muscle control, you may not have the legal right to drive.Laws vary from state to state, but in many cases you have to be seizure-free for at least 6 months to 1 year before you can get a driver's license.The laws of the state you live in, not your doctor, decide whether or not you have the right to drive. You can find out about the law in your state by visiting the Epilepsy Foundation website at www.epilepsyfoundation.org/resources/drivingandtravel.cfmBefore getting a license, you may have to show proof from your doctor that you are receiving treatment and that the treatment has brought your seizures under control. (Remember, too, that some drugs used to control epilepsy may make you drowsy. If you have just started a new drug, don't drive until you know how the drug will affect you.)In general, the risk of having a seizure-related traffic accident is greatly reduced in people who have been seizure-free for 1 year.

  2. Epilepsy - What Happens

    Although epilepsy is one of the most common neurological disorders involving the nervous system, experts often cannot explain exactly how or why the disease develops and how or why the abnormal electrical activity in the brain occurs.

  3. Epilepsy - Medications

    Medications to prevent epileptic seizures are called antiepileptics. The goal is to find an effective antiepileptic medication that causes the fewest side effects. Antiepileptic medications prevent seizures in 60% to 70% of people who take them. Although

  4. Absence Epilepsy - Topic Overview

    Childhood absence epilepsy develops between ages 4 and 10. It causes very brief absence seizures that may include staring into space, eye fluttering, and slight muscle jerks. Juvenile absence epilepsy develops between ages 10 and 17 and causes similar seizures. Many children with juvenile absence epilepsy have generalized tonic-clonic seizures as well.Both childhood and juvenile absence epilepsy tend to run in families. These types of epilepsy usually respond well to drug therapy.

  5. Nerve Stimulation for Epilepsy

    Similar to a pacemaker, a vagus nerve stimulator (VNS) is a small device implanted under the skin near your collarbone. A wire (lead) under the skin connects the device to the vagus nerve in your neck. The doctor programs the device to produce weak electrical signals that travel along the vagus nerve to your brain at regular intervals. These signals help prevent the electrical bursts in the brain

  6. Special Diets for Epilepsy

    When the body burns (metabolizes) fat, it creates substances called ketones. The ketogenic diet tries to force the body to use more fat for energy instead of sugar (glucose) by increasing fat and restricting carbohydrates. It is not yet clear how or why the ketogenic diet prevents or reduces seizures, but it has been shown to be effective in reducing epileptic seizures in some children.1The ...

  7. Family History of Epilepsy - Topic Overview

    Adults with epilepsy may wonder if their children will also develop epilepsy. Whether a family history of epilepsy (genetics) increases a person's risk for the disorder partly depends on what type of epilepsy the family member has had.Several types of childhood epilepsy may be passed from parent to child. These include benign focal childhood epilepsy, childhood absence epilepsy, and juvenile myoclonic epilepsy, which have no other known cause.If you developed epilepsy as a result of a head injury, stroke, or other clear causes, you probably will not pass the condition on to any children you have. But certain genetic factors may have made you more likely to develop epilepsy after the injury, stroke, or other cause. And you might pass on these genetic factors to your child.A child of a parent with epilepsy may or may not develop the disorder. Family history is a risk factor, but many people with epilepsy have children who never develop it. Research on the role of genetics in epilepsy

  8. Epilepsy - Surgery

    Surgery can greatly improve the lives of some people with epilepsy. While medication is the most common approach to treating epilepsy, it does not always work.

  9. Epilepsy: Complex Partial Seizures - Topic Overview

    Complex partial seizures occur in children and adults with certain forms of epilepsy. They are the most common type of seizure in adults.An aura may occur at the beginning of a seizure. It may consist of a strange smell, taste, sound, or visual disturbance, an unexplained feeling of fear or anxiety, or a sense that everything seems strangely familiar, like it has all happened before (déjà vu), or strangely unfamiliar (jamais vu).The seizure changes the person's level of consciousness. The person may appear awake but cannot respond to anything or anyone around him or her. The person usually stares into space.The seizure may include involuntary movements called automatisms, such as lip-smacking, chewing, hand wringing, picking, and swallowing.The seizure lasts 30 seconds to 2 minutes.Most people who have complex partial seizures do not remember having them. After a seizure, the person will be confused or disoriented and may have a hard time speaking and swallowing for several

  10. Epilepsy: Generalized Tonic-Clonic Seizures - Topic Overview

    Generalized tonic-clonic (grand mal) seizures are the easiest seizures to recognize. They happen most often in people with generalized epilepsy of unknown cause.A generalized tonic-clonic seizure begins with a sudden loss of consciousness. During the first 15 to 30 seconds of the seizure, the entire body stiffens as the muscles contract. The back and neck are arched. Sometimes the person may cry out as the vocal cords contract and air is released from the lungs. The person may turn blue because he or she isn't breathing. This is the tonic phase of the seizure.During the next 30 to 45 seconds, the muscles jerk (convulse) in a rhythmic pattern. This is the clonic phase of the seizure. While the muscles are jerking, the person may bite his or her tongue or lose bladder or bowel control.An entire seizure lasts 1 to 2 minutes. After the seizure, the person will be unresponsive at first but will gradually wake up in 10 to 30 minutes. The person may be sleepy, confused, or dazed. The person

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