Epilepsy

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There are various forms of epilepsy from mild "absence attacks" to grand mal fits with convulsions and loss of conciousness. Some people just get "sensory" epilepsy when they feel odd things in their skin. The symptoms of epilepsy are caused by disorganised electrical storms in the brain.

Industrial medicine treats epilepsy with drugs to prevent the electrical storms spreading. The environmental approach is to prevent the storms in the first place. Some of the causes are known, but many either are not or are untreatable, so some patients will end up taking anti-epileptic drugs for life.

The problem is that uncontrolled epilepsy means one cannot drive a vehicle. Sufferers must be clear from all fits for one year before they are allowed to drive again. One does not want to "experiment" with elimination dieting and lose this fit free status. Stopping anti-epileptic drugs suddenly can also cause fits to flare. Therefore treatment of epilepsy should always be overseen by a doctor to get this balance right. If drugs are to be stopped then this must be done very slowly.

Look for the cause

Old head injuries can trigger epilepsy from scar tissue on the brain. I have one patient whose epilepsy followed a blow from a cricket ball!

What to do for a person having an epileptic fit

  • Don't let them damage themselves - protect their head and limbs if convulsing.
  • Keep them lying down, on their side in case of vomiting.
  • If they are tongue biters, put something soft between their teeth, eg rolled up handkerchief.
  • Wait until they recover on their own.
  • If it is a child fitting because of a high temperature, remove their clothing and sponge them down with tepid water.
  • Get help, unless you are experienced with that problem in that patient.

Epilepsy and pregnancy

There is a problem here because the drugs used to treat epilepsy can cause damage to the unborn baby. But at the same time, having a fit during pregnancy may cause a lack of oxygen and possible damage. The most sensitive time for foetal development is during the first 3 months of pregnancy.

The key is to use single drug therapy, get the dose of anticonvulsant as low as possible using blood tests to monitor this regularly. Good nutrition is highly protective against toxic stress - most drug side effects result from nutritional deficiency - many anti-epileptics are folate antagonists, so folic acid 5mgs daily should be taken in addition to nutritional supplements (multivitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids and vitamin C). Nutritional supplements in these doses can do no harm, only good. See Nutritional Supplements

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