Medical and Dietary Treatments for Epilepsy

Treating Localized and Generalized Epilepsy

Doctors typically begin to understand epileptic seizures by distinguishing whether they begin in a specific area of the brain (localized epilepsy) or over the whole brain at once (generalized epilepsy).

Medical treatment for epilepsy often involves the use of anti-seizure, or antiepileptic, medications. These medications work by changing the way the brain cells exchange messages and electricity. Medications are usually the first treatment method, and most patients can be treated successfully this way. Medication to treat epilepsy needs to be specific to either localized or generalized seizures, as medicines for localized seizures can often make generalized seizures more frequent, and some medicines for generalized seizures might not benefit patients with seizures that originate in one small (localized) area.

Fine-Tuning Epilepsy Medications

There are more than 20 medications to treat seizures, and the use of these medicines is dictated by such factors as where the seizures originate, frequency of seizures and age. Medications often need to be fine-tuned, as every brain does not respond the same way to every medication.

Combinations of medications may prevent or reduce seizures while producing the best range of positive effects on a patient’s mood, behavior, appetite and sleep, which are important issues for many patients. Some medications can help reduce anxiety while others are more useful for improving depression or bipolar symptoms. Medications can also be timed to optimally interact with sleep and eating.

In addition to approved medications, experimental medication trials are often available.

Patients with prolonged seizures or clusters of seizures may require at-home rescue medications that can stop the cycle and prevent a trip to the emergency room.

Patients who have localized seizures are often good candidates to consider surgical epilepsy treatment when medicines fail, but this is not an option for most patients with generalized seizures. Visit our Epilepsy Surgery page to learn more about surgery as a treatment for epilepsy.

Dietary Treatments for Epilepsy

Dietary treatment can help control seizures in some epilepsy patients. This includes the ketogenic diet, a special high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet prescribed by a physician and carefully monitored by a dietitian. A modified Adkins diet is also used to help control seizures. This diet must also be prescribed by a physician and monitored by a dietitian.

Traditionally used only in treating young epilepsy patients, these diets are now being recommended for patients of all ages.

Make an Appointment

To make an appointment to discuss treatment for epilepsy, contact our General Neurology Clinic at 734-936-9020.