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What To Do When Medicine No Longer Stops Your Epileptic Seizures

EpilepsyContributor: Imad Najm, MD

Epilepsy is the fourth most common neurological disease, affecting at least 2.3 million adults and nearly 500,000 children in the United States. Each year, another 150,000 people are diagnosed with epilepsy. The disorder affects males and females and can develop at any age.

Epileptic seizures and epilepsies are classified as focal or generalized. Focal seizures begin in one particular region of the brain, while generalized seizures are the result of abnormal nerve cell firing that affects the whole brain from the beginning.

The first step in managing seizures is to confirm the diagnosis of epilepsy, as many patients suffer from what’s called psychogenic non-epileptic seizures, or PNES. This is usually done through recording brain waves during seizures in a specialized setting called an epilepsy monitoring unit.

More than 20 medications are approved in the United States for treating various types of epilepsies. More than two-thirds of patients with epilepsy can control their seizures with one or more medications.

Epilepsy is considered drug-resistant if seizures continue despite treatment with two or more anti-epileptic medications. Continue