New Jersey Epilepsy Neuroscience

Treatment & Management of Seizures

The brain contains millions of nerves that carry messages to and from the brain throughout the body. A seizure is an abnormal event in which the nerves act erratically, resulting in uncontrollable behavior. Many people who have seizures are at an increased risk of having another. People prone to seizure attacks have a condition known as epilepsy.

Symptoms & Causes of Epilepsy

Epilepsy can occur randomly in people, though it typically manifests between the ages of 10 and 60, and most often in families in which there is a history of the disease. It can also be caused by a traumatic shock to your body, such as a brain injury, poisoning, substance abuses, diabetes complications, and infections.

There are several types of seizures, and repeated occurrences of any type of seizure likely means that the person has epilepsy. Seizures are sudden, brief bursts of electrical impulses during which a person may start shaking, foaming at the mouth, or become totally nonresponsive.

Different types of seizures have different symptoms:

  • Simple partial seizures – In these seizures, you may notice changes in the way you feel and perceive things; sights, smells, and tastes may all feel different. This type of seizure also causes nausea and dilated pupils, but not loss of consciousness.
  • Complex partial seizures – This seizure can result in loss of consciousness and involuntary movement, such as smacking lips, swallowing, or moving limbs. Some patients report feeling a sensation of déjà vu when these seizures strike.
  • Petit Mal (Absence seizures) – These seizures typically affect children and often stop by age 20. Not all seizures involve movement, in absence seizures, the person sits still and appears to be daydreaming.
  • Myoclonic seizures – A common seizure that involves muscle twitches and involuntary movement of the legs and arms.
  • Atonic seizures – This seizure, which strikes without warning, causes the person to go limp all at once. Loss of consciousness is also common.
  • Grand mal (tonic-clonic) – These seizures are most often caused by gliomas, a type of brain tumor. During this attack, a person may lose bladder control, have difficulty breathing, and experience muscle contractions. Loss of consciousness typically occurs afterward

Seizures, no matter how small, require immediate medical attention. You should contact an emergency service as soon as possible when someone exhibits the symptoms.

Treating Epilepsy & Preventing Seizures

A thorough neurodiagnostic assessment will need to be performed before epilepsy treatment can begin. Once your doctor has determined the underlying cause of your condition, they can start prescribing treatment.

An epilepsy management plan may involve:

  • Antiepileptic drugs – There are several types of anti-seizure medications. Which type your doctor prescribes will depend on your specific condition. Medication may be so effective that the patient can stop taking it after a few seizure-free years.
  • Dietary changes – ketogenic diets have proven to be useful for preventing seizures in children. These diets are low in carbs and high in protein. This diet is effective because it releases ketones into the body, which shifts the body’s primary fuel source from carbohydrates to fats.
  • Nerve stimulation – Vagus nerve stimulation is a procure in which the vagus nerves are stimulated with electrical impulses. In this treatment, an implant is placed into the patient and releases electrical impulses when abnormal brain behavior occurs, suppressing the activity and preventing seizures.
  • Brain surgery – In situations where medication and less-invasive treatment proves ineffective, brain surgery may be recommended. In this procedure, the brain cells sending out abnormal signals are removed. Both open surgery and minimally-invasive gamma knife surgery are capable of performing this procedure.

Anyone who has had a seizure should wear a medical alert bracelet and inform friends and family of what to do in case of an emergency. While waiting for an ambulance to arrive to help someone having a seizure, you can help keep them safe by having them lay down and putting something soft under their head.

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Saint Barnabas Medical Center
94 Old Short Hills Road
Livingston, NJ 07039
(973) 322-5000
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Monmouth Medical Center
300 Second Avenue
Long Branch, NJ 07740
(732) 222-5200
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Community Medical Center
99 Highway 37 West
Toms River, NJ 08755
(732) 557-8000
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Children's Hospital of New Jersey at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center
201 Lyons Avenue at Osborne Terrace
Newark, NJ 07112
(973) 926-7000
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Jersey City Medical Center
355 Grand Street
Jersey City, NJ 07302
(201) 915-2000
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RWJ University Hospital New Brunswick
1 Robert Wood Johnson Place
New Brunswick, NJ 08901
(732) 828-3000
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