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Epilepsy causes and cures: How the keto weight loss program, cannabis and other treatments affect seizures

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Epilepsy is an unpredictable and infrequently misunderstood disease. When the condition is not controlled, seizures can occur at any time and disrupt your life, relationships and wellbeing.

Neurologists and neurosurgeons on the Nebraska Medicine Comprehensive Epilepsy Center can allow you to live seizure-free. Discover the newest treatment options for individuals with epilepsy – including whether the keto weight loss program or cannabis derived medications are effective against seizures.

What a seizure looks like

Symptoms rely upon the a part of your brain affected, which determines what variety of seizure you could have. Most individuals with epilepsy could have similar symptoms from seizure to seizure. For instance, patient Meg Busing experienced her seizures as “staring spells” each time.

Epilepsy symptoms can include:

  • Temporary state of confusion 
  • Episodic memory loss
  • Staring spells, or looking blankly in a single direction
  • Falling to the bottom in convulsions
  • Involuntary screaming
  • Stiff muscles
  • Uncontrollable twitching or jerking of the arms or legs
  • Fear or anxiety
  • Intermittent speech difficulties

How epilepsy is diagnosed

To assist diagnose epilepsy, doctors can use a magnetoencephalography or MEG scanner. “On the MEG scanner, someone with epilepsy could have a definite pattern of brain activity in comparison with that in an individual without epilepsy,” explains neurological researcher Valentina Gumenyuk, PhD. 

It is vital to come back to an experienced epilepsy center like ours to make sure you receive the proper treatment. “We have provided cutting-edge specialized look after seizures at our center for over 15 years,” says neurologist and epilepsy specialist Olga Taraschenko, MD, PhD. “We will determine essentially the most suitable treatment in your specific condition.”

Early diagnosis and treatment are essential to forestall the disease from progressing and causing long-term health consequences. Untreated, recurrent seizures may cause lasting damage to the brain and even death.

What causes seizures?

Seizures are temporary, abnormal changes in electrical activity within the brain. 

Seizure onset – or where seizures come from – can vary greatly. “Your brain waveforms are like fingerprints – unique to you,” says Dr. Gumenyuk.

“Your brain’s temporal lobe looks different than mine.” 

Symptoms rely upon where the seizure starts within the brain.

Doctors use the MEG scanner to see where seizures start, helping them find the perfect solution to treat each patient. “The MEG imaging has a bonus over other sorts of brain imaging with regards to evaluation of where seizures are coming from, or where a tumor is growing. It’s more precise and might access the areas which might be situated deep contained in the brain and otherwise are usually not well visualized,” says Dr. Gumenyuk. 

The MEG scanner can measure EEG and MEG waveforms at the identical time. “The brand new device installed in our MEG laboratory last month has truly revolutionized our process for diagnosing seizures and brain tumors,” says Dr. Taraschenko.

Can epilepsy be cured?

Epilepsy is a bit like diabetes – with a physician’s help, it could possibly be managed and controlled. But curing epilepsy is never possible.

“Epilepsy doesn’t go away, but you possibly can combat seizures enough that folks have the perfect possible lives,” says Dr. Taraschenko. “With the proper treatment, some patients do turn into seizure free.”

The kind and combination of medication prescribed will depend on the precise variety of epilepsy and its point of origin. By showing exactly where the brain is malfunctioning, the MEG scanner helps our doctors treat the disorder with precision.

With the proper medications, 65% to 70% of patients can turn into seizure-free. The remaining 30% to 35% percent will need surgery combined with medications. 

The specialists here all have fellowship training and years of experience with hard-to-treat seizures. “Seeing a specialist can prevent years of suffering and get your seizures under control,” says Dr. Taraschenko. “Epilepsy is what we do.”

Get your epilepsy under control
Call 800.922.0000 to make an appointment with an epilepsy expert.

The ketogenic weight loss program may help reduce seizures

“The ketogenic weight loss program may be very effective in epilepsy patients,” says Dr. Taraschenko. The keto weight loss program is tough to follow, though. Cheating on the weight loss program – eating carbs – limits how well it really works. “Children are frequently more successful with the keto weight loss program. Since their parents can control what foods they buy, following the restrictive weight loss program is less complicated.”

A less-restrictive version, called the modified Atkins weight loss program or low carb weight loss program, also can reduce seizures. However it’s not as effective because the keto weight loss program. The

Atkins weight loss program is commonly chosen for teenagers and adults.

Weed and seizures: Can cannabis help individuals with epilepsy?

“There’s a cannabis derived medication we are able to prescribe, but it surely only works for specific sorts of epilepsy,” says Dr. Taraschenko. It’s an FDA-approved, plant-based medication for 2 rare and severe types of epilepsy: Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome.

“Marijuana itself or CBD oil shouldn’t be a proven treatment for epilepsy,” cautions Dr. Taraschenko. “Also, marijuana products purchased from stores or online can contain unknown derivatives or harmful contaminants. This pharmaceutical medication, however, has undergone rigorous testing and quality control, so we all know exactly what’s in it.” 

Seek advice from your doctor if you could have questions on cannabis and epilepsy.

When epilepsy meds don’t work, surgery could also be next

In case your epilepsy doesn’t reply to medications and weight loss program changes, surgery is the following option. 

Surgery can range from easy to complex:

  • Laser to destroy the a part of the brain that’s triggering the seizures
  • Open surgery to remove the seizure trigger point
  • Implanting a small device to detect and stop seizures, called responsive neurostimulation

Every patient considered for surgery undergoes MEG imaging. The MEG results provide an in depth map of the magnetic fields generated by the brain’s activity. This map allows doctors to discover where an issue is perhaps occurring.

MEG imaging may be very precise. “If the realm of the seizure origin shouldn’t be established on EEG, then the MEG can point to the potential site and localize abnormal brain activity with an error of lower than 5 mm,” says Dr. Taraschenko. “There are virtually no other methods to detect the time of the abnormal activity and likewise localize it inside the brain.”

How responsive neurostimulation helps prevent seizures

“In some patients, removing tissue surgically is not an option,” explains neurosurgeon Aviva Abosch, MD, PhD. “For instance, if the seizure location overlaps with critical brain functions – similar to control of limb movement or speech – then the epilepsy surgeons cannot remove that a part of the brain.”

If medications have not helped and surgical removal of the seizure location shouldn’t be an option, patients can get responsive neurostimulation therapy.

The implantable device works somewhat like a pacemaker for the guts. “Very similar to a pacemaker senses abnormal cardiac activity, the responsive neurostimulator monitors and senses electrical abnormalities within the brain,” says Dr. Abosch.

How responsive neurostimulation works:

  • A surgeon implants small electrodes within the brain connected to a skull-mounted battery underneath the scalp. This device repeatedly monitors brain activity
  • When the device senses unusual electrical activity, it emits small pulses of stimulation
  • The small pulses interrupt the brain activity, stopping a seizure from developing further  

“Before we place the device, we discover precisely where the seizures are coming from. We put electrodes directly on the brain location where seizures start,” explains Dr. Abosch. Nebraska Medicine has considered one of the most important experiences within the country with responsive neurostimulation therapy.

Some patients turn into seizure-free after responsive neurostimulation. Others may reduce the number of medicines they’re on because neurostimulation leads to a considerable decrease within the frequency and severity of their seizures.

Can epilepsy kill you?

Individuals with epilepsy are at high risk of dying from preventable causes, like motorcar accidents and drowning. There’s also the chance of Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy or  SUDEP. Most cases of SUDEP occur during or immediately following a seizure.

“SUDEP is especially prevalent in patients who’ve poorly controlled seizures or refractory seizures,” says Dr. Taraschenko. “We do not know obviously how SUDEP happens. Theories include going too long without respiratory or cardiac arrest resulting from a seizure.”

Having a seizure on the incorrect time may be life-threatening. Seeing an epilepsy specialist, who can allow you to manage the condition, is critical.

Uncontrollable seizures? We may help.
Call 800.922.0000 to make an appointment with an epilepsy expert.

Get treated by the perfect doctors within the region 

As an authorized level 4 epilepsy center, we provide the most recent and most complex care to individuals with seizures and epilepsy. Patients who come to our center have access to dedicated epilepsy neurosurgeons and neurologists, specialty medications, social staff, nurse case managers, neuropsychologists and registered dietitians. We also connect you with all available community resources. 

Why come to Nebraska Medicine?

  • Only level 4 epilepsy center within the state – meaning we offer the very best level of look after individuals with epilepsy
  • The one center to supply responsive neurostimulation in Nebraska and Iowa
  • Considered one of just 25 medical centers within the country that use a MEG scanner before surgery
  • The perfect hospital in Nebraska for 11 years, in response to U.S. News & World Report

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