Thursday, November 5, 2009

Treatment for Epilepsy

The goal of epilepsy treatment is to stop seizures from occurring. Sounds simple enough right? If only that were true. Unfortunately there are several types of seizure, several types of epilepsy, and with epilepsy being an 'unknown', treatment can be rather difficult.

When two people take the same antibiotic for the same infection those two people will metabolize the medication differently and therefore get different results. Sure, the infection will most likely be eradicated by the medication, but the speed in which that occurs and the side effects experienced by either individual will likely be different.

The same is true for an epileptic. Fortunately there are various types of medications that work on the different chemical pathways in the brain. Each medicine controls one or more pathway. Therefore each medication will attempt to control a specific type of seizure or a few types of seizures. Of course, I am not a doctor and this is not proper medical descriptions!

Other than medication there is a natural way to help control seizures. That is through diet and behavior modification. From the diet stand point there are two diets that help reduce the likely hood of seizures. One is the Ketogenic diet. This is a very specific diet that must be controlled by an epileptologist and a dietitian. It must be followed to the T. No fudging, no mix ups, no last minute 'forgot to pack lunch let's swing through a drive-through'. Very controlled. We have not tried this as we do not have an epileptologist available to us in Oklahoma City. The other one is the gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan diet. This is where we fall in. We are 90% accurate on this diet. Meaning, when we are away from home. Out and about, visiting friends/family, in a restaurant, or at a church dinner we do not strictly follow this diet. I have not figured that part out yet. The rest of the time, in my home, we are following this diet. That is not to say that on occasion we will have an old time favorite. However, we have noticed a difference in Avagrace's alertness, color, spark, and general quality of life when we follow this diet.

Research has shown that any neurological disorder will benefit from the gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian diet. This is because the gluten, dairy, and animal product is not something that we can easily or effectively digest. Your immune system is in your gut and so when you have stuff in there that can't be digested easily or at all it just sits there until something else can sweep it out. When you have a neurological disorder, or any issue that requires your body systems to work extra hard for, your immune system must be at it's optimum state. If your brain does not have the proper nutrients or the best fuel it isn't going to function well. For someone with a neurological issue they are going to be even more sensitive to this. And if your gut is trying to digest something for multiple days it is going to get tired, slow down because it hasn't had a break, and it won't be able to properly absorb the good stuff.

Other than diet and medications it helps if you know what your triggers are. We still do not know all of Avagrace's triggers are. We do know two. One is when she breathes incorrectly. Like if she is crying and can't catch her breathe, or she has been running and is having a harder time breathing. Her other known trigger is when she is tired. So the world stops for Avagrace to sleep and nap. One down fall for her is that she has always had trouble sleeping. She will sometimes wake up for a few hours in the middle of the night and just not be able to fall back asleep. So she just lays there with her eyes closed, trying to sleep. Some people are light sensitive. Some people will have a seizure from a flashing light. Some people can have a seizure because of music. As wide and varied as are humans, so is epilepsy and its triggers. Keeping a seizure journal can really help you learn your triggers.

The plan for tomorrow is to talk about medication more in depth. I am heading out of town for a few days so if for some chance their is no Internet connection where I am I will post and be back Sunday night. God Bless and please tell one person each day all that you can about epilepsy! Together we can make a difference!

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