November is Epilepsy Awareness Month. We asked Dr. Amy McGregor, a pediatric neurologist at Le Bonheur’s Neuroscience Institute, to explain epilepsy, treatment options and resources for families.
What’s the difference between epilepsy and seizures?
Seizures are abnormal electrical activity in the brain.
Epilepsy is defined by unprovoked seizures on at least two occasions.
What causes epilepsy?
There are a number of causes of epilepsy. For example, causes include genetic conditions, abnormal brain structure, and metabolic diseases (which are rare). Sometimes, no cause is found.
How is epilepsy diagnosed?
An EEG helps with the diagnosis of epilepsy. Sometimes a MRI is done as well. A CT scan may be done in the emergency room if someone presents for the first time with a seizure.
How is epilepsy treated?
There are many treatments for epilepsy. There are lots of medications, but there are also specialized diets for epilepsy. Sometimes epilepsy surgery is performed if the seizures are very difficult to control. The vagus nerve stimulator is a device used to treat epilepsy if epilepsy surgery is not an option. We provide all of these treatment options at Le Bonheur. We are fortunate at Le Bonheur to have all the advanced technologies available for evaluation of epilepsy if needed.
What are some good resources for families?
Epilepsy.com, the website for the Epilepsy Foundation of America, has excellent information about epilepsy.
Also, there is an epilepsy support group at Le Bonheur that meets the third Thursday of every month. For more information, learn about all Le Bonheur support groups.