Why Choose Cedars-Sinai Marina del Rey Hospital for Seizures Treatment?
With over 50 years of experience in providing the community of Los Angeles with quality healthcare, our medical team will provide you with the services you need to treat seizures. With our state-of-the-art technology, we will thoroughly evaluate your health to find the exact cause of your seizures and subsequently design the most effective treatment plan for you so that you can enjoy a high quality of life. If you choose Cedars-Sinai Marina del Rey Hospital to treat seizures, you will benefit from the healthcare you need in a warm and compassionate environment.
A seizure is a burst of uncontrolled electrical activity between the brain cells that leads to temporary abnormalities in muscle tone or movements, behavior, sensations, or state of awareness. It is worthy of note that not all seizures are the same, as numerous factors can cause them.
Over 3.4 million people in the United States currently experience recurrent seizures, most of which result from epilepsy. Experiencing two or more episodes at least 24 hours apart that are not caused by a known factor is usually considered to be epilepsy. The majority of seizures last from 30 seconds to 2 minutes and an episode that lasts longer than 5 minutes is considered a medical emergency.
Seizures are more common than you may think. They can occur after a closed head injury or a stroke, as well as due to infections such as meningitis. However, in many cases, the cause of a seizure remains unknown. The good news is that seizures can be successfully kept under control with the proper medication.
The treatment you will receive for seizures highly depends on the cause, type, frequency, and severity of your seizures, your age, your general health, and your medical history. It is essential to know that if you only had one episode, you may not need treatment, as it may have been an isolated incident brought about by a medical condition such as a stroke.
However, people with recurrent seizures will need treatment and regular medical supervision. The most frequent and effective treatments for seizures are anti-seizure medications, some of the most useful being the following:
Some people with seizures may be prescribed more than one medication to control their seizures. The purpose of the treatment is to find the best medication that works for you and that causes the fewest side effects. Finding the best anti-seizure medicines is usually a process of trial and error, as you may not receive the most effective medication upon your first appointment.
Some of the most common side effects of anti-seizure drugs are weight gain, dizziness, fatigue, and mood changes. Adopting a ketogenic diet, with high-fat foods and low in carbohydrates, has been found to decrease the frequency of seizures. If treatment with anti-seizure medications does not work after several attempts, your doctor may recommend surgery, which can be of many types, as follows:
- lobectomy: during this procedure, the surgeon will remove the area of the brain in which seizures begin
- multiple subpial transection: when the portion of the brain that is responsible for causing seizures cannot be safely removed, the surgeon will make several incisions in it to prevent seizures
- corpus callosotomy: this surgery entails cutting the network of connections between the neurons of the right and left halves of the brain and is used to treat seizures that begin in one side of the brain and travel to the other
- hemispherectomy: during this procedure, the surgeon removes half of the outer layer of the brain. This type of surgery is an extreme one and is only performed when medications cannot control seizures affecting only half of the brain. As a result, numerous daily functional abilities may be lost after this surgery, but children can usually recover those abilities with the aid of rehabilitation
- thermal ablation: this is a minimally invasive surgery to treat seizures that involves focusing highly concentrated energy at specific portions in the brain where seizures begin and destroying the brain cells that cause seizures
There are two types of seizures, depending on the parts of the brain involved, and each has multiple subtypes:
- generalized seizures: they affect the entire brain at once
- partial seizures: also known as focal seizures involve only a part of the brain
Generalized seizures can be:
- absence seizures: also known as petit mal seizures, they usually occur in children and are defined by staring into space or by mild body movements, such as eye blinking or lip-smacking, and they last for 5 to 10 seconds
- tonic seizures: these seizures cause stiffness of your muscles and involve back, arms, and legs muscles. They may cause involuntary falls and loss of consciousness
- atonic seizures: also known as drop seizures, these lead to loss of muscle control, which may cause you to collapse suddenly, fall, or drop your head
- clonic seizures: affecting the neck, face, and arms, clonic seizures are associated with repeated or rhythmic, jerking muscle movements
- myoclonic seizures: these seizures typically appear as sudden brief jerks or twitches of your arms and legs, but there is usually no loss of consciousness
- tonic-clonic seizures: formerly known as grand mal seizures, they represent the most severe type of epileptic seizure and can lead to a sudden loss of consciousness, body stiffening and shaking, and loss of bladder control or biting your tongue, lasting for several minutes
Partial seizures can be:
- focal seizures with impaired awareness: these seizures entail a change or loss of consciousness or awareness that feels like being in a dream. You may seem awake, but do not respond normally to your environment, or you perform repetitive movements, which may refer to hand rubbing, mouth movements, repeating certain words, or walking in circles, and you may not remember the seizure
- focal seizures without losing consciousness: they can transform emotions or modify the way things look, feel, smell, taste, or sound, but you do not lose consciousness, and you may suddenly feel angry, joyful, or sad
Symptoms of Seizures
It is essential to know that everyone experiences seizures differently. Nevertheless, the most common symptoms of seizures include the following:
Diagnosis of Seizures
If you experienced a seizure, we strongly encourage you to seek medical attention, as it may not be an isolated incident, and you may be suffering from a condition such as epilepsy. The diagnostic process begins with your doctor asking you about the symptoms you were experiencing when you had the seizure, and they will subsequently order some of the following tests and exams, whose primary purpose is to find the underlying cause of your seizure:
- a neurological exam: your doctor will assess your behavior, mental function, and motor abilities to determine if there is a problem with your brain and nervous system
- blood tests: the purpose of blood tests is to determine your blood sugar levels and find any signs of infections, genetic conditions, or electrolyte imbalances
- lumbar puncture: if your doctor thinks that your seizures are the result of infection, they may conduct a lumbar puncture, also known as a spinal tap, which entails inserting a thin and hollow needle through your spine to collect a small sample of cerebrospinal fluid that will subsequently be examined in a laboratory
- electroencephalogram: during this test, the doctor will attach electrodes to your scalp, and they will then indicate the electrical activity of your brain, which will allow your doctor to see a pattern that will help them determine whether a seizure may occur again, as well as help them exclude other conditions that mimic epilepsy as the cause of your seizure
- MRI scan: a brain magnetic resonance imaging scan, which uses powerful magnets and radio waves, will be performed to allow your physician to see whether there are lesions or abnormalities in your brain that can lead to seizures
- CT scan: similarly to MRI scans, CT scans will provide your doctor with clear and detailed images of your brain and will help them see whether there are tumors, bleeding, or cysts on your brain that could have led to your seizure
- PET scan: This imaging test uses a small amount of a low-dose radioactive substance that is injected in a vein to help the physician see the active areas of the brain and detect abnormalities
It is worthy of note that children are more prone to experiencing seizures than adults. The causes of seizures are numerous, including the following:
While you must always take the medication prescribed to you by your doctor if you experience seizures regularly, you may want to try some of the following alternative treatments, which may help you experience seizures less frequently:
- herbal remedies: some of the most effective herbs for people with seizures are burning bush, groundsel, hydrocotyle, lily of the valley, mistletoe, mugwort, peony, skullcap, and tree of heaven, but on the other hand, if you experience seizures, you must avoid the following herbs, as they may interact with anti-seizure medication: Ginkgo Biloba, St. John’s wort, kava, passionflower, valerian, garlic, chamomile, schizandra, and mint
- vitamins: vitamin B-6 is helpful in treating a rare form of epilepsy known as pyridoxine-dependent seizures, and other vitamins and supplements that may be helpful if you have seizures are magnesium, vitamin E, and vitamin D
- acupuncture: this ancient Chinese method involves a trained practitioner inserting thin needles in a strategic point of your body, which promotes relaxation and stress relief
Depending on the cause of your seizures, you must avoid any triggers, of which your doctor should inform you. For instance, if you have epilepsy, you should avoid looking at flashing lights and other visual stimuli. Moreover, it would help to try and reduce your alcohol intake or steer clear of it altogether and avoid illegal or recreational drugs that may generate a seizure.