Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What is Epilepsy?
A: Epilepsy is a neurological condition that from time to time produces brief disturbances in the normal electrical functions of the brain. Epilepsy affects more than 50 million people in the world, over 3 million people in the United States and approximately 60,000 people in Connecticut.
Q: What do you do when a person has a seizure?
A: Before we respond to this question, please understand this: calling 911 is "sometimes" not necessary and "sometimes" it is paramount. If you know the person well enough, what their seizures look like and how they react, then you may not need to call. "If you don't know the person or are just unsure about the situation, call 911 immediately." And then, do the following: A: Clear the area and try to lay the person down. If you have a pillow, put it under their head. Check to see if the individual is wearing a MedicAlert Bracelet or something similar to it, like a wrist band or neck chain. Check the individual's cell phone for I.C.E. Numbers as well. Keep track of the time. After three minutes have passed from when the seizure started, be ready to call 911. When the EMTs arrive, please inform them of everything that happened. Never put anything in a person's mouth. It is physically impossible to swallow one's tongue. That is a myth.
Q: Is there a cure for epilepsy?
A: Unfortunately, there is not. However, advances have been made to determine what causes seizures and how medications, surgery, vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) and the ketogenic diet can reduce or eliminate them.
Q: Are there medications for epilepsy?
A: Presently there are over 50 medications for epilepsy, which come in tablet, capsule, liquid and rectal injection form.
Q: Is there any type of surgery to help correct epilepsy?
A: The most common one is the temporal lobectomy surgery. You can Google temporal lobectomy surgery and see quite a few of them being done or you can Google epilepsy surgery to see the other types. Sir Victor Horsley did one of the first documented epilepsy surgeries in 1886. (Although it may have been done earlier than that). Other surgeons that have done them are: William Macewen and Sir Hugh Cairns.
Q: Is there anything else to help people living with epilepsy?
A: The ketogenic diet, vagus nerve stimulator, taking your medications as your doctor or neurologist has prescribed. Be consistent. Eat three meals a day. Get seven or more hours of sleep per night and always think positive.
Q: What is a good way to remind yourself to take your medication?
A: Just set the alarm clock in your cell phone.
The residual effects of a seizure are mind-boggling.
Robert A. Fiore,
Connecticut Epilepsy Advocate