Epileptologist offers tips on what to do if you are present when someone has an epileptic seizure
Palmetto Health recognizes November as Epilepsy Awareness Month. Epilepsy is a neurological disorder of the central nervous system in which abnormal electrical discharges in the brain can cause seizures or periods of unusual behavior, including loss of awareness or consciousness. There are multiple, different causes of epilepsy. It can be genetic or it can be symptomatic, where something has provoked it into being, such as a stroke or a brain tumor.
Epilepsy is not rare. Statistics about the disorder include:
According to Walter H. Peters, MD, neurologist and epileptologist with Palmetto Health-USC Neurology, a number of things might trigger an epileptic seizure. “It could be triggered by alcohol or sleep deprivation or by stimulant drugs,” he said. “It’s important for people with epilepsy, if they’re starting a new medication, to always check with their neurologist.”
According to Peters, if you are present when a person is having an epileptic seizure, here are some tips to assist:
Most people with epilepsy can perform the same duties and daily activities as those without the condition; however, those with more frequent and severe seizures may be prohibited from certain tasks, such as driving or working around machinery.
Peters and other physicians work to help patients have the best quality of life possible. He said, “In diagnosing epilepsy, we take a clinical history of a patient and look for characteristics that would support a diagnosis of seizure. Then you may apply other tests, such as an MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) scan or an EEG (electroencephalogram), which is a brain wave test that looks at the electrical potentials of the brain.”
Peters says that they look at all of the options available to assist their patients. “Anti-seizure medications are effective in controlling seizures in many cases,” said Peters. ” He says that other options include:
For more information about epilepsy and Palmetto Health-USC Neurology, call 803-545-6050 or visit PHUSCMG.org/Neurology.