Martha Jefferson Monday: What is Epilepsy and how is it Treated?

Epilepsy is a neurological disorder caused by disturbances to normal brain waves.  People with epilepsy often face recurring seizures, during which a sudden change takes places and hinders a person's ability to talk, walk, or engage with others. The good news is, it's possible to maintain control of the disorder.  

"Usually we discuss epilepsy in terms of control instead of cure," said Dr. Jeremy Gill, a neurologist at the Martha Jefferson Neuroscience Center. "The medications for treating the symptoms of epilepsy are very effective in most cases."  

Dr. Gill specializes in treating epilepsy. He says anyone can be diagnosed.  

"Although the causes for having seizures develop, any age group, male or female, can be affected by epilepsy." 

Doctors use a variety of tools to diagnose. Patients might undergo a test called an EEG, or electroencephalogram, which allows the brain waves to be tracked. Other times an MRI or CT image can be used to highlight the problem. Depending on the specific patient, medicine is then used to control the seizures.  

 "Treatment options are by and large medical," noted Dr. Gill. "They're almost all pills that the patient takes one, two or three times a day and the goal of therapy is to have no side effects and excellent seizure control with no seizures."  

For more information on this topic, call Health Connection at (434) 654-8252.   

If you have a health question you'd like for us to answer, email healthquestions@nbc29.com.

Sentara Martha Jefferson Monday

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