Epilepsy is probably not something anyone tends to think about much. When we do, it’s probably connected with grand mal seizures and strangers. Certainly no one expects it to affect them — until the unthinkable happens and we or someone we love develops it.
Epilepsy is one of the most common disorders affecting the nervous system. It’s a blanket term used for seizures that have nothing to do with fevers, withdrawal, or something else of that nature. The brain sends random, confused signals to some part of the body and the body responds. That’s the essence of a seizure. You could compare it to a computer program crashing or the whole computer going to blue screen. And each seizure can be triggered by anything from stress to diet to flashing lights.
The most memorable seizures are grand mal seizures with complete loss of both consciousness and bodily control. But there are others that are even more common. Some seizures leave a person dazed and unaware until they pass. Others briefly paralyze some part of the body or alter a particular sense. (Most people with epilepsy would probably love for all their seizures to stay as mild as seeing blinking lights.)
Regardless of the types of seizures, uncontrolled epilepsy is invasive, blocking the person from some normal activities. Driving, for instance, isn’t an option when your brain might just stop telling your body how to drive while your foot’s on the gas pedal. Socializing becomes intimidating, especially if you tend to have more noticeable seizures. Other people’s reactions to the seizures can be their own level of hurt. Moreover, seizures wear on the body and drain energy. Even without any other limitations, it’s hard for anyone to get up and be themselves when they’re exhausted.
Fortunately, there are a number of medications out there to treat epilepsy. The anticonvulsant, Keppra, is one of them. Doctors prescribe it for various types of seizures and it can be used for children as young as four. It’s only taken either once or twice a day (much more convenient for long-term than some medications we can think of) and comes in several forms. There’s an extended release pill or, if you’re like us and really don’t like swallowing pills, there’s a dissolvable tablet and a liquid form. It’s also safe to continue taking during pregnancy.
But, of course, like all everything in life, there are downsides. Keppra can effect your mood and your kidneys, making it a risky drug for people with a history of mental illness and kidney disease. It also gets in breast milk so, if you’re pregnant and want to breastfeed, you’ll need to talk to your doctor about weaning off. Also, Keppra is one of those medications that is dangerous to simply stop taking.
The pros and cons will stack up differently for everyone. Many people may end up taking both Keppra and at least one other seizure medication. It’s not a decision to make alone but it can be worth it. But when you have a life to reclaim, having this option gives hope. Be sure to check for major discounts on epileptic medications on Optum Perks to see if you can save some cash all the while saving yourself from suffering with epilepsy.