Whether you’re newly diagnosed with epilepsy or have been living with this seizure disorder for years, you’ll find the expert care and support you need at Scripps.
Our board-certified neurologists are specially trained to care for people with epilepsy and seizure disorders. We believe that epilepsy is manageable, and we’re committed to your daily health and long-term well-being.
Epilepsy, also known as seizure disorder, is a type of neurological disorder. It is caused by abnormal electrical activity in the brain, and causes sudden, chronic episodes of unusual behavior, odd sensations, seizures or loss of consciousness.
Anyone can develop epilepsy at any age. The causes of seizures are complex, and not all causes are known. The condition may be inherited from a parent. Some developmental disorders may raise the risk. Changes in the brain due to trauma, disease, stroke, a brain tumor or other factors also may lead to epilepsy.
Symptoms of epilepsy can vary from person to person. The most common signs and symptoms include:
- Temporary confusion
- Staring without responding to sound or visual stimuli
- Uncontrollable jerking movements of the arms and legs
- Loss of consciousness or awareness
- Feelings of fear, anxiety or deja vu
Having these symptoms does not mean you have epilepsy. Many of these symptoms can be caused by other conditions. But if you do have these symptoms, make an appointment with your physician to find the cause and appropriate treatment.
Epilepsy is rarely diagnosed in a single visit. As part of your assessment, your doctor is likely to ask what your symptoms are like before, during and after a seizure. Your doctor may also order diagnostic tests, including:
- Blood tests to check for infections or other causes of seizures
- Electroencephalogram (EEG) to look for abnormal electrical activity in the brain
- Imaging tests, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or computerized tomography (CT) scan to look for damaged tissue, tumors, bleeding or other issues in the brain
We take a comprehensive approach to managing seizure disorder. Our neurologists will partner with you to create a plan to help control your epilepsy and minimize the frequency and severity of seizures.
Daily medication is the most common treatment to prevent seizures, and most of our patients use it successfully. The effectiveness and side effects of seizure medication may vary for each individual, so it’s important to let your neurologist know if you have side effects or other concerns.
If medication isn’t controlling your symptoms well enough, your physician may recommend long-term monitoring in our inpatient epilepsy unit at Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla.
Over a two-day period, neurologists who are fellowship-trained in epilepsy management use continuous EEG monitoring combined with video surveillance to record the exact moment you have a seizure.
By pinpointing precisely where in your brain the seizure occurred, your physician can confirm or rule out a true epilepsy diagnosis and determine the most appropriate treatment.
In some cases, we may recommend surgery to help alleviate symptoms of epilepsy. Surgical treatment options include:
- Lobe resection, which involves removing the part of the brain that is causing the seizure
- Implantation of a vagus nerve stimulator (VNS), which helps block seizure-producing electrical activity in the brain
If surgery is an option, we will refer you to an expert neurosurgeon. Learn more about our neurosurgery team.