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Take control of epilepsy

A person counts pills into their outstretched hand

There are a lot of options for treating epilepsy—and they work. For most people with epilepsy, treatment can help control seizures and improve quality of life.

If you're living with epilepsy, you know how seizures can affect your life. They can put you at risk of injury—and make it harder to succeed in work, school and social settings. The good news: There are many effective treatments for epilepsy, and your doctor can help you find the one that's right for you. Here's a look at some common treatment options.

Medications

Anti-seizure medicines are one of the most common treatments for epilepsy. These drugs affect the way your brain sends signals—stopping seizures before they start. There are many different options, and it can take time to find the right medicine and dose for you. Let your doctor know if you have concerns about side effects or costs.

Surgery

If medications don't work to control your seizures, surgery may be an option. While medication treats the symptoms of epilepsy, surgery can be used to address the cause—for example, by removing damaged tissue from the brain.

Surgery can also be used to implant devices that can help control seizures. Implants include:

Vagus nerve stimulators. This involves placing electrodes around the vagus nerve in the neck. A generator that's placed under the skin on the chest sends signals to the electrodes.

Responsive neurostimulation (RNS). RNS devices are placed in the skull. They use electrodes to monitor brain waves. RNS devices can be programmed to detect and stop seizures.

According to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, these devices help control seizures, but they usually cannot entirely stop them.

Surgery is not the right treatment for everyone with epilepsy. Your healthcare team can help you decide what's right for you.

Lifestyle changes

You can take steps to better manage your epilepsy. Small changes can reduce your symptoms and help you live an active and full life. These include:

  • Take medicine as prescribed.
  • Get enough sleep.
  • Lower your stress.
  • Recognize epilepsy triggers, such as bright or flashing lights.
  • Keep a journal of your seizures.

What you eat may also affect your condition. The now-popular ketogenic diet, high in fats and low in carbohydrates with limited calories, can help some people with epilepsy control their symptoms. Learn more with our epilepsy and diet quiz.

Talk to your doctor

Your healthcare team can help you manage your epilepsy, from finding the right treatment to managing side effects. Let your doctor know if you have any questions, concerns or changes to your health.

Reviewed 11/3/2021

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