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Epilepsy

Epilepsy is a group of neurological conditions characterized by epileptic seizures. It can affect people of all ages and can lead to significant injury or even death.

Causes

  • There are a multitude of causes of epilepsy. Often, about 60% of the time, the cause is unknown.
  • Others causes may include the following:
  • Genetic, congenital or developmental abnormalities
  • Trauma or head injury
  • Toxic ingestion or a metabolic problem
  • Tumors, strokes, infections of the central nervous system (CNS)
  • Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy

Types of Seizures

Seizures can be partial or generalized. When someone has a partial seizure, they are still fully or partially conscious. When a patient has a generalized seizure they are not conscious.

Focal onset seizures can be highly variable but typically consist of one body part or side moving with the patient being fully oriented and conscious to being confused, disoriented or partially conscious.

Types of generalized seizures

  • Absence
  • Tonic-clonic
  • Atonic
  • Tonic
  • Clonic
  • Myoclonic

Absence seizures are marked by bouts of repeated staring and unresponsiveness lasting seconds. It often happens to children. It may often be missed or misdiagnosed.

Atonic seizures are marked by a patient being unable to move and unresponsive.

Tonic-clonic, tonic, clonic, myoclonic seizures are marked by unresponsiveness and abnormal movements.

Diagnosis

Diagnosis starts by seeing a healthcare provider such as your primary physician. He will likely refer you to a neurologist for further evaluation and management.

Often, a patient will have a seizure without any prior warning. They may urinate on themselves or bite their tongue. They will often be confused after the event and not have a total recollection of what happened.

Diagnosis may include the following:

  • Thorough history
  • Complete physical examination
  • Blood testing
  • Imaging (CT, MRI)
  • EEG testing

Prevention and Management

Please discuss all prevention and treatment options with your doctor.

Management

It is important to understand that if you have epilepsy there are some things that you should not do. Examples include, driving, piloting heavy machinery, scuba diving, sky diving, swimming alone, and being in a situation where suddenly losing consciousness can be life threatening.

Also, there are certain things that can risk your chance of having a seizure such as infections, drinking alcohol, lack of sleep, and certain medications.

Management can also include dietary changes (ketogenic diet), alternative medicine, and even surgery for those who qualify.

Medications

There are many medications indicated for treatment of seizures. These medications are called anticonvulsants or AEDs.

These can be very helpful in preventing and treating seizures. Please discuss this with your doctor.

Medical Marijuana

Patients with a diagnosis of epilepsy can be certified for medical marijuana by an authorized provider in NY. Medical marijuana can potentially alleviate the burden of epilepsy and the consequences of suffering from the disease.

Resources

The Epilepsy Foundation – https://www.epilepsy.com/

American Epilepsy Society – https://www.aesnet.org/