So far, the aim of seizure management has been on seizure control. But why is this so important? Research in epilepsy has shown that seizures are just one part of the problem. Yet, many of the problems that people face can be the result of how seizure activity in the brain affects brain functioning. Other problems may be due to side effects of medicines or complications of seizures. Some of these problems are more pronounced or more likely to occur in people with uncontrolled seizures, as compared to people with well-controlled epilepsy.

What types of problems are people with epilepsy at risk of developing:

  • Injuries
  • Cognitive problems (for example problems with thinking, remembering, problem solving, paying attention)
  • Mood disorders or problems with depression and anxiety
  • Coordination problems
  • Side effects of medicine
  • Thinning of the bones
  • Reproductive or hormonal problems
  • Dying from complications of seizures or injuries.

Can I prevent any of these problems?

Preventing seizures and other problems must be part of seizure management. This means working together with your health care team to control seizures as best as possible. Ways to prevent seizures and other problems must include taking seizure medicines regularly as problems taking medicines is one of the biggest risks for uncontrolled seizures. People can also adjust their lifestyle and environment to reduce the chance of seizures. Steps then can be taken to address risk factors for seizures and other problems.

What should I do if I’m at risk these problems?

Consider a few examples of how to prevent other problems:

  • Avoiding alcohol and other substances and managing stress may help seizure control and lessen the risk of mood disorders.
  • Keeping good seizure control and avoiding side effects of medicines may help prevent or lessen cognitive problems, mood changes and falls.
  • Keeping a regular sleep schedule can help prevent seizures from poor sleep and help treat sleep disorders and stress.
  • Choosing seizure medicines carefully can help lessen the risk of bone problems, (thinning of the bones or osteoporosis) or developing hormonal problems . These hormonal problems could affect having children or cause other health problems.
  • Taking Vitamin D and exercising can help keep bones strong and hopefully decrease fracture
  • Wearing protective helmets can lessen the chance of head injury.

 

Authored by: Steven C. Schachter, MD | Patricia O. Shafer, RN, MN | Joseph I. Sirven, MD on 8/2013
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