This statistic might surprise you: one of every 26 Americans will develop epilepsy in their lifetime. Epilepsy is a neurological condition affecting the nervous system that results in recurring seizures, some minor, others more severe.
November is National Epilepsy Awareness month. One of the goals is to eliminate misconceptions about the condition. One of the most common is that epilepsy isn't treatable, but that is not true at all. Most patients respond very well to anti-seizure medication.
Dr. Mohamad Haykal, is a board-certified clinical neurologist and fellowship-trained epileptologist with Spectrum Health Medical Group. He explained that epileptic seizures are caused by disturbances in the electrical activity of the brain. The seizures may be related to a brain injury or might be hereditary, but in many cases the cause is unknown.
He wants to dispel another misconception: "Some people think that epilepsy is a mental disorder, epilepsy is a medical condition it is not a mental disorder. It's caused by abnormal electrical activity in the brain. Sometimes when we diagnose a patient with seizures we tell them you have a seizure disorder and the patient says well I don't have epilepsy because they think it's a mental disorder and that is not true."
Dr. Haykal also wanted to emphasize epilepsy is treatable, two-thirds of patients respond to anti-seizure medication, often the first one that is prescribed. The other third, who continue to have seizures despite medication, might need surgical intervention to remove the area of the brain where the seizures are coming from, or an implant to stop them. Special diets can also be a solution.
And you don't have to go far for treatment ranging from diagnosis to surgical intervention. Dr. Haykal said Spectrum Health is among the Top 10 places in the country for neurostimulation implants, which is a solution for those whose epileptic seizures can't be controlled by medication.