Epilepsy Treatment in Hillsborough County, FL
What Is Epilepsy?
Epilepsy, also referred to as seizure disorder, is the fourth most common neurological disorder affecting over 65 million people worldwide. Epilepsy causes recurrent, unpredictable seizures which occur when nerve cell activity in the brain becomes temporarily disrupted; sometimes, recurring episodes of sensory disturbance or loss of consciousness can occur too. The condition is actually considered a spectrum disorder, meaning there are different types of seizures with an array of symptoms, varying in severity, that may be involved.
While an epilepsy diagnosis is not considered life threatening, epilepsy can affect your safety, driving, work, and relationships. Currently, there is no cure for epilepsy; however, many cases of epilepsy can be successfully controlled with medication and other interventions, including surgery. Some medical treatments can have undesirable side effects, so working with your healthcare provider to find the right treatment for your particular type of epilepsy is critical for your wellbeing.
To schedule a consultation with a qualified healthcare practitioner in Hillsborough County that specializes in epilepsy treatment, call (813) 536-3212 or contact Dr. Christopher Van Benschoten online.
Epilepsy Causes & Triggers
The exact cause of epilepsy is not fully understood. An epileptic seizure could be related to a brain injury, infectious disease, brain condition, developmental disorders or genetic influence, but often the cause is completely unknown.
Certain triggers may instigate a seizure to occur. These triggers include:
- Hormonal changes
- Menstrual cycles
- Alcohol or drug use
- A specific time (twilight, early morning, middle of the night, etc.)
- Sleep deprivation
- Flashing bright lights, especially occurring in a pattern
- Low blood sugar
- Certain foods
Your healthcare provider may ask you to keep a seizure diary to note the time of day and other details surrounding each seizure to help identify triggers. For some people, having a seizure is a reflex response to certain occurrences like flashing lights or loud noises. For others, starting to read can trigger a seizure. Certain over-the-counter and prescription medications carry a risk of causing seizures. Some only cause seizures in people who suffer from epilepsy.
Learning what caused your epilepsy or is triggering your seizures can help you to avoid the substances and circumstances that exacerbate your epileptic condition.
The primary symptom of epilepsy is a seizure. However, as a spectrum disorder, people with epilepsy may experience a broad spectrum of symptoms with varying severity. The nature of your recurring seizure can range from a strange feeling or sensation to a full-blown grand mal seizure.
The medical community classifies types of seizures based on the specific etiology of the abnormal brain activity at the start of each seizure. Seizures are either generalized seizures, involving the entire brain, or focal seizures involving only a certain area of your brain. Your epilepsy symptoms will depend on which type of seizure your experience.
Focal seizures can occur with or without loss of consciousness. Sometimes nothing seems to be happening, but you simply notice that things feel, sound, look or taste different suddenly. You may grow dizzy, feel a part of your body tingling or see flashing lights. Other times, with partial loss of consciousness, you may stare into space—in a seeming reverie—and be non-responsive. You may also perform repetitive movements like chewing, swallowing, walking in circles or rubbing your hands together.
Generalized seizures involve your entire brain, but can manifest in six different ways:
- Absence or “petit mal” seizures
- Tonic seizures, where your muscles stiffen, and you may fall
- Atonic seizures, where you suddenly collapse
- Clonic seizures, with their characteristic repeated, rhythmic jerking muscle movements
- Myoclonic seizures, where your arms and legs jerk or twitch
- Grand mal seizures (aka tonic-clonic seizures) with abrupt loss of consciousness, tongue-biting, loss of bladder or bowel control, muscle stiffening, jerking and shaking, and foaming at the mouth
The most common form of generalized epilepsy is Juvenile Myoclonic Epilepsy. It emerges in mid-to-late childhood, has a genetic basis, and features both petit and grand mal seizures, as well as cyclonic jerks. It is often triggered by sleep deprivation, fatigue, and stress.
A medical history and physical exam are the first steps your healthcare provider will take before arriving at a diagnosis of epilepsy to rule out other neurological and medical conditions. Your healthcare provider may utilize blood tests, neurological tests, CT scans, MRI, EEG or other imaging tests to assist in making a diagnosis.
Epilepsy Treatment Options
The question of how best to treat epilepsy is one that has confounded and divided the medical community for centuries. Guidelines developed by the American Epilepsy Society and the American Academy of Neurology help healthcare professionals navigate the research findings on newer seizure medications and treatment options.
Medications are typically the first treatment approach for those with epilepsy. If medications prove unsuccessful or cause undesired side effects, addition epilepsy treatment may be recommended, including:
- Epilepsy surgery, including traditional open surgery or newer laser surgery options
- Ketogenic diet
- Vagus nerve stimulation
- Identifying and avoiding medications that cause seizures or triggers specific to your seizures
If you are experiencing seizures, it is critical to meet with a healthcare practitioner experienced in epilepsy symptoms and treatment who can effectively diagnose your condition and provide you with an array of effectual epilepsy treatment options. Call (813) 536-3212 or contact Dr. Christopher Van Benschoten online to get started today.
Address4691 Van Dyke Road
Lutz, FL 33558
10:00 am - 4:00 pm
Tue: 10:00 am - 4:00 pm
Thu: 10:00 am - 6:00 pm
Fri: 10:00 am - 3:00 pm