Epilepsy Association of Utah


Just as the causes for Epilepsy are varied so are the available treatments. No one person responds exactly the same way and no one person responds the same way for an extended period of time, therefore it may be necessary to revisit your treatment options regularly. Our goal is the same: life without seizures.

Be sure to have an open dialogue with your healthcare provider, weigh the pros and cons and, if you are concerned, ask questions. Remember: They are there to help you.

Before you decide on your course of treatment make sure that you have a proper diagnosis. As with any condition, second opinions are not frowned upon but looked at as a very real necessity. Once you know what type of seizures you are having, where (if they can find out) in the brain they are starting from and if there are any genetic components, then you can be confident in your decision on treatment.

The Epilepsy Association does not recommend specific treatments for individuals, we provide this information purely for research purposes only. Nothing on this page should be considered comprehensive or medical advise.

Most people will have their seizures fully controlled or greatly reduced, using the right medications. Determining the type, severity and frequency of their seizures is crucial in developing a medication schedule. As with most conditions requiring medicines, it is essential that the dosing is adjusted properly and that strict adherence to the schedule is maintained. Be sure to ask your Doctor about potential side effects and note what other medications you are taking. Antiepileptic Drugs (AED) can be sensitive and their effectiveness reduced with certain other medicines, even over the counter drugs. It is vital that you know what will effect the AED you are taking.

Here you can find a list of commonly used AED’s, their mechanism of action, the side effects expected and what seizure type they are most used to help prevent.

There is a well known and extensively studied connection between diet and Epilepsy. Most successful diet for controlling Epilepsy include low carbohydrate and low sugar diets. One of the most effective diets has been around for almost a hundred years but is only, fairly recently, been prescribed as a viable alternative or in conjunction with AED administration. The Ketogenic Diet is a high fat, low carb, low sugar, moderate to low protein diet. The purpose of the diet is to starve the body until it uses fat instead of carbohydrates for energy thus producing ketones in the urine. The side effects have been described as minimal while the positive effect has been described as nothing short of a miracle. It is important to bear in mind that the diet still has an approximately 40% success rate. Mostly due to the diets’ strictness. All approved foods must be measured out to the gram, the patient must take nutritional supplements to make up for the nutrients lost by eating high fat. It is a medically monitored diet and should not be attempted without supervision. In Utah, only Primary Children’s Hospital is set up to monitor patients on the diet.

Some patients that have difficultly with the Ketogenic Diet have found success with the Modified Atkins Diet. Like the Ketogenic Diet, the body burns fat as a primary source of energy, but unlike the Ketogenic Diet Proteins and low carbs are also used in fairly even doses. Whereas the Ketogenic diet is a 3 or 4:1 fat to carbohydrate diet, the Modified Atkins is a 1:1. The Modified Atkins does not need medical supervision.

Not everyone that has seizures is a surgical candidate, it is important to note that the testing for verification of surgical treatment is extensive and sometimes intrusive. However, it is vital that the surgeon identify very clearly the portion of the brain affected. Surgical options include: removal of defective tissue or sections, Hemispherectomy (removal of portions of one hemisphere and the severing of the connection between the two hemispheres), Corpus Callosotomy (severing the connection between the two hemispheres), and Multiple Subpial Transection (cutting slits in the affected section of the brain responsible for the seizures.

It is also a surgical option to implant the Vagus Nerve Stimulator (VNS). The VNS is inserted under the skin near the collar bone and attaches to the Vagus Nerve. The device sends a predetermined electrical signal to the brain via the Vagus Nerve that interrupts the abnormal electrical impulse and regulates the normal rhythm. It is for this reason that the VNS is called the ‘pacemaker for the brain’. In the case that the person with the VNS is experiencing or beginning to experience a seizure, a magnet is ‘swiped’ near the inserted device and an electrical impulse is immediately sent to the brain, thus resetting the transient signal.

Western medicine has long since criticized the use of Eastern philosophies when it comes to medical treatments. In recent years, the Epilepsy Association of Utah has taken great strides to forward the advance of alternative treatment options. Eastern and Homeopathic practitioners are difficult to find and anyone seeking these types of treatments needs to verify that the person offering their services is credentialed. Check back for additional information on alternative treatments.

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