Every case of epilepsy is unique. Mayo Clinic’s multidisciplinary care teams understand this better than anyone. That’s why we collaborate using state-of-the-art diagnostic tools to provide you with the most accurate diagnosis possible and develop an individualized care and treatment plan tailored to your unique situation. Gregory A. Worrell, M.D., Ph.D., neurologist for Mayo Clinic, answers your questions regarding epilepsy treatment, diagnostics, and recent advancements in care.
What is an epilepsy center? Who should seek care at them?
WORRELL: Epilepsy centers provide a comprehensive team approach to the diagnosis and treatment of epilepsy. Specialized centers provide routine care for epilepsy and are skilled in providing comprehensive diagnostic and treatments for individuals with uncontrolled seizures (i.e., drug-resistant epilepsy). Any person with hard-to-control epilepsy or anyone that wants to learn more about their epilepsy and treatment options should consider a level 4 epilepsy center.
What are at the cutting edge of epilepsy treatment options?
There have been significant advances over the past decade to identify the networks causing seizures and methods to surgically target these networks.
When should I see an epilepsy specialist? And what should I look for when seeking them out?
Epilepsy specialists provide information about the diagnosis, cause, and treatments for epilepsy. Anyone with epilepsy can benefit from a comprehensive evaluation that addresses the complex aspects of living with this condition.
What should I ask my doctor if they recommend surgery as a treatment option?
Epilepsy surgery is a highly effective treatment for drug-resistant epilepsy. Fully understanding the possible seizure-related outcomes and risks of surgery are among the most important questions to ask.
What is the difference between epilepsy and having a seizure?
Epilepsy is a disease defined by a predisposition to have seizures. Commonly, epilepsy is diagnosed after two or more unprovoked seizures greater than 24 hours apart. Additionally, epilepsy can be diagnosed after a single unprovoked seizure if there is a high likelihood of additional seizures occurring.
What types of treatment options are available to help manage seizures?
Medications are the mainstay of treatment. But low-carbohydrate diets (ketogenic) can also be highly effective for reducing the tendency to have seizures. There also is evidence to support the significant role of sleep, exercise, and lifestyle in the treatment of epilepsy in combination with medications.
How common is epilepsy?
Epilepsy is a common disease worldwide. Epilepsy accounts for more than 0.5% of the global burden of all disease and affects people of all ages, sexes, races, income groups, and geographical locations. Around 7.6 per 1,000 persons will experience epilepsy during their lifetime.
Who is prone to get epilepsy?
The primary risk factors for epilepsy are brain injuries of any kind (including infections, stroke, trauma, or other causes), prolonged, complex febrile seizures in infancy, and family history (first-degree relatives, not distant relatives).
At Mayo Clinic, you’re surrounded by experts from a wide array of medical specialties, with treatment options personalized just for you. Click here to learn more.