Health Female Adda
11 months ago
Is epilepsy curable?

Every year globally February 12 is observed as International Epilepsy Day.

Epilepsy is a medical disorder in which a person suffers from a tendency to throw repeated fits or seizures. Seizures occur because of sudden, uncontrolled electrical activity in the brain. It is amongst the most common neurological conditions. The causes of epilepsy can be many, which include brain infections, birth injury, tumours, trauma, congenital malformations, genetic and many others. There are many treatment options available that help to deal with the condition in a better manner and help one lead a fruitful life.

But despite so many therapeutic options being available a large number of epilepsy patients continue to be untreated and hence are unable to lead a normal life. It is estimated that there are about 10 million people with epilepsy in India but an only small percentage of patients are adequately treated. So, to know if epilepsy as a condition can be treated adequately, we spoke to some experts.

Can epilepsy be cured completely?

According to Dr Kaustubh Mahajan, Consultant Neurologist, Holy Family Hospital, Bandra, Mumbai, ‘Epilepsy is quite a serious problem in India. People should understand that it is a treatable disease.  In 30 percent of cases that we see is caused by infections in the brain like tuberculosis, which is completely curable and in another 60 percent cases the seizures can be completely controlled.’

As per the estimates, 1 out of every 100-200 person in India suffers from epilepsy, yet most of us have only a hazy idea of what it is. The major problem with epilepsy in our country is late detection. By the time the severity is gauged, the patient would have become an adult. Early detection is a must as it can lead to a complete cure.

Can people suffering from epilepsy prepare themselves to tackle a seizure or a fit?

‘Epileptic seizures often occur without a warning; however, some people may have an aura of the seizure before it occurs. The causes of epilepsy may vary from person to person. Seizures, anxiety, blank stares, headaches, sleepiness, staring spells, or temporary paralysis after a seizure is commonly seen in epilepsy,’ says Dr Kavita Barhate, Consultant Neurologist Dr Barhate’s Neurology clinic, Dombivali, Mumbai. A proper understanding of the causes and risk factor of epilepsy are essential for effective management of epilepsy in India, where the majority of patients are still untreated or inadequately treated.

Is epilepsy a life-threatening condition?

More than the condition it is the seizures that are dangerous. It can lead to accidents and other occupational hazards. It poses a huge risk, especially for those who work at high-rise buildings or near water which could lead to drowning.

What are the treatment options for epilepsy?

Here are few ways in which the condition can be treated:

Drug therapy: The first line of treatment that is offered is anti-epileptic drug or AED therapy. Drugs like phenytoin, oxcarbazepine, valproate, phenobarbitone and carbamazepine are conventional drugs are used. A combination of these drugs may be given if required. Complete withdrawal of drugs is considered only when the patient is seizure-free. Usually, the dosage of the drug is reduced gradually and over a period of 3—6 months (or longer) the patient may be free from seizures. In some cases, patients may need to be dependent on drug therapy for a lifetime.

Surgery: If a person doesn’t respond to drug therapy, then surgery is considered. Here are few ways in which the surgery is done:

  • Removal of seizure focus: It is the most common type of surgery where a small part of the brain where a disturbance in signals is observed is removed.
  • Multiple Subpial Transection: Sometimes, when the affected part cannot be removed, the surgeon may introduce series of incisions to prevent the signals from the affected part to reach other parts of the brain.
  • Lesionectomy: Epilepsy caused by the presence of a lesion can be treated by surgical removal of the legion.
  • Vagus nerve stimulation: This method is considered for people who are not fit for surgery. In this method, a device called vagus nerve stimulator is implanted under the skin of the patient in the chest. The device remains attached to the vagus nerve that delivers electrical signals to the brain thereby reducing seizures by 20 to 40 percent.

Image source: Shutterstock

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