Epilepsy cannot be cured completely; however, it can be managed. The treatment plan is based on the severity of the symptoms, the patient’s general health and how well they respond to therapy. The treatment usually includes anti-epileptic drugs, which reduce the frequency and occurrence of the seizures. In order to be effective, the medication must be taken at the right times and frequency, as prescribed by the physician. Irregular consumption of the medication could trigger seizures. Possible side effects of the medication include skin rashes, fatigue and problems with coordination and memory. In rare cases, the patient may experience effects such as depression and liver inflammation.
If medication is ineffective, surgery may be considered in selected cases to stop the seizures from occurring. The surgical treatment for epilepsy involves resecting (removing) the part of the brain where the seizures originate. This is possible only for focal seizures, where the origin can be traced back to one specific part of the brain. This is done through extensive brain scans and studies. The surgical approach is planned carefully, to ensure that functional parts of the brain that deal with speech, memory, mobility etc. are not affected. For this reason, the surgeons may elect to perform the procedure while the patient is awake and responsive. If the portion of the brain where the seizures originate is too large or involves a functional area, the surgeons may choose to perform a multiple subpial transection. In this procedure, the surgeon interrupts some neural paths in the brain to prevent the seizures from spreading beyond where they originate. This does not stop seizures from occurring, but reduces their intensity.
A variety of alternative therapies have also been proven useful in managing the frequency and intensity of seizures, such as deep brain stimulation, vagus nerve stimulation and ketogenic diet.