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Epilepsy - Topic Overview

Medicine controls seizures in many people who have epilepsy. It may take time and careful, controlled changes by you and your doctor to find the right combination, schedule, and dosing of medicine to best manage your epilepsy. The goal is to prevent seizures and cause as few side effects as possible. After you find a medicine that works for you, take it exactly as prescribed. The best way to prevent more seizures is to keep the right amount of the medicine in your body. To do that, you need to take the medicine in the right dose and at the right times every day.

If medicine alone does not control your seizures, your doctor may try one or more of these other treatments. They include:

  • Surgery to remove damaged tissue in the brain or the area of brain tissue where seizures begin.
  • A special diet called the ketogenic diet. With this diet, you eat a lot more fat and less carbohydrate. This diet reduces seizures in some children who have epilepsy.
  • A device called a vagus nerve stimulator. Your doctor implants the device under your skin near your collarbone camera.gif. It sends weak signals to the vagus nerve in your neck and to your brain to help control seizures.

Epilepsy affects each person differently. Some people have only a few seizures. Other people get them more often. Usually seizures are harmless. But depending on where you are and what you are doing when you have a seizure, you could get hurt. Talk to your doctor about whether it is safe for you to drive or swim.

If you know what triggers a seizure, you may be able to avoid having one. Getting regular sleep and avoiding stress may help. If treatment controls your seizures, you have a good chance of living and working like everyone else.

But seizures can happen even when you do everything you are supposed to do. If you continue to have seizures, help is available. Ask your doctor about what services are in your area.

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