Epilepsy Treatment and Care

Banner Health’s compassionate, experienced team is dedicated to helping you effectively manage your epilepsy symptoms to live your life to the fullest. We work with you to build an individualized treatment plan specific to your needs and are by your side to support and guide you each step of the way.

How Is Epilepsy Treated?

Although there’s no cure for epilepsy, most people can effectively manage their symptoms. The right treatment can make a big difference in your quality of life. Based on the type, frequency and severity of your seizures, and your overall health and medical history, your care team may recommend medication, surgery, rehabilitation and/or other therapies.

Epilepsy Medications

Seizures generally can be controlled with medication. Anti-seizure drugs reduce frequency, severity or eliminate seizures. 

Potential side effects of epilepsy medications:

  • Depression, irritability or other emotional changes
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Inflammation of liver or other organs
  • Problems with memory
  • Poor coordination/clumsiness
  • Rash
  • Weight gain

Medications may be available as a tablet, liquid or injectable. To be effective, it’s important you take your medication as prescribed. Your neurologist will evaluate and manage your seizure medications.

Epilepsy Surgery

If medication is not effectively managing your seizures, your neurologist may refer you to a neurosurgeon for evaluation of surgical interventions. Brain surgery for epilepsy involves removing or altering the part of the brain causing your seizures. This is done to reduce seizure frequency or severity or eliminate seizures completely. After surgery, some people can decrease or stop taking anti-seizure medications. 

It is important to remember that this is a multidisciplinary approach from the beginning to the end and your neurologist and neurosurgeon work closely together to determine the best option for you. 

For some patients, trying to localize the specific area where the seizures are originating can be difficult. For these patients, placing small electrodes inside the brain and monitoring them 24/7 inside a special unit in the hospital can give useful information to the neurologists and neurosurgeons about where the seizure focus might be. 

There are different kinds of seizure surgeries for epilepsy:

  • Resection surgery removes the part of the brain where the seizures start. 
  • When the area affected by seizures is too large or important, disconnection (subpial transection) surgery makes small cuts in the brain to interrupt the nerve pathway and keep seizures from spreading.
  • Laser Interstitial Thermal Ablation involves placing a small probe in the area of the brain where the seizures begin using minimally invasive techniques and using heat to destroy that specific area.
  • Vagal Nerve Stimulator is a type of “pacemaker” that sends pulses of electrical energy to the brain through a cranial nerve in the neck called the vagus nerve. The wire is wrapped around the vagus nerve and the generator is implanted under your skin below the clavicle.

As with any surgery, there are risks of swelling, nerve damage, anesthesia reactions, bleeding or infection. Additionally, with brain surgery, talk to your doctor about the risk of:

  • Memory or language problems or changes
  • Temporary vision problems
  • Temporary weakness requiring rehabilitation

Learn more about neurosurgery from the experts at Banner Health

Other Supportive Treatments

To further help you cope with your epilepsy, you also may consider: 

  • Treatment for depression or anxiety
  • Joining a support group {link to support groups page}
  • Keeping a seizure diary to help identify and avoid possible triggers
  • Teaching friends and family about what to do if you have a seizure
  • Wearing a medical alert bracelet
  • Eating a balanced diet, getting regular exercise, drinking plenty of water and getting plenty of sleep.

Trying a ketogenic diet: Some patients have found ketogenic diet, which is high-fat and low-carbohydrate, helps reduce the frequency of seizures. It’s often used with children when seizures don’t respond to medications. Before you change your diet, talk to your doctor and consider working with a nutritionist to ensure proper nutrition and monitoring

Epilepsy Care at Banner Health

Banner Health is a leader in epilepsy care. We’re nationally recognized for our excellent care and commitment to safety for seizure disorders. Our goal is to tailor a treatment plan to your needs to effectively control your epilepsy. Our multidisciplinary team works with you, seeking your feedback and direction, as well as keeping you up to date about your care and options.

Banner Health is experienced in treating even the most challenging seizure disorders. Our patients benefit from the latest treatments and most advanced surgical options. Talk to your doctor about clinical trials available.

The staff at our comprehensive epilepsy centers understand the impact epilepsy has on our patients and their families. We’re here to help you through the challenges you face. Our resources include classes and support groups {link to page} to give you the tools you need to navigate your epilepsy diagnosis and treatment.