Can seizures cause memory loss?
Depending on where the seizures originate in the brain, they may 1) interfere with learning of information, 2) interfere with storage of information or 3) if seizures cause cell loss or damage, impairment in retrieval. Early treatment to stop seizures is important to minimize the effects seizures have on memory loss.

Do seizures cause brain damage?
Some uncontrolled seizures can cause scar tissue which can interfere with cognitive functioning.

How do I know my child is having seizures?
Staring spells, excessive day dreaming and problems such as attention difficulties in school.

What is a comprehensive epilepsy center?
An integrated program where patients are offered medical, dietary and surgical treatments, as well as cognitive and psycho-social assessments. All types of epilepsy or seizures are appropriately treated by a team of neurologists, neurosurgeons, specialized dieticians and nurses, neuropsychologists, psychologists and EEG technicians.

Will anti-epileptic medications cause birth defects?
New research has addressed this issue and it has been found that monotherapy and folic acid has markedly reduced this risk from 4% to 2-3%. The risk of birth defects in the general population is 2%. An epileptologist (neurologist who specializes in epilepsy) will help you find the right medication to reduce the chance of birth defects.

Who can have epilepsy surgery?
The determination of who can have surgery is a detailed process involving a battery of tests and diagnostic procedures reviewed by a neurologist, neurosurgeon, and neuropsychologist. Generally, patients with 1) microscopic scar in one temporal lobe, 2) one lesion on MRI or CT scan in temporal frontal occipital or parietal lobe, 3) drop attacks, and 4) paralysis and seizures on the same side are good surgical candidates. However, each patient's case is different and requires a thorough evaluation at a comprehensive epilepsy center.

Will surgery help me?
This only can be determined after a comprehensive epilepsy evaluation. Each patient's condition varies and it is difficult to say whether surgery can help you without a comprehensive epilepsy evaluation conducted by a neurologist who specializes in epilepsy (an epileptologist). Outcome data from the Epilepsy and Brain Mapping Program at Huntington Memorial Hospital in Pasadena indicate that more than 83 percent of patients undergoing temporal resections are seizure-free and the conditions of more than 97 percent are markedly improved. In frontal lobe epilepsy, seizures are markedly reduced in more than 85 percent of patients undergoing resections.

Can I drive if I have epilepsy?
Each state has its own requirements for people with epilepsy to drive. Generally, your physician will okay you for a license if the following criteria is met:

  1. Completely controlled on medication
  2. Have seizures only at night
  3. Have seizures which are focal motor
  4. Have only auras
  5. Have long auras before seizures which allow you to pull off to the side of the road
  6. Have predictable seizures that occur during fever, sleep deprivation or another time when you can predict when the seizure will happen


Check with your state's Department of Motor Vehicles for the rules that apply in your state.


What is the ketogenic diet?
The ketogenic diet is a very rigid, mathematically calculated high fat and low carbohydrate/protein diet. This diet must be implemented and supervised by a knowledgeable doctor, nurse and dietician. Primarily it has been used in children with myoclonic, absence, and atonic (drop) seizures but it has also proven to be effective in some patients with grand mal, multifocal seizures of the patient with complex partial seizures. The older the child the more difficult to maintain compliance. It is not used on children less than one year and not used in adults because of the compliance problem. The Epilepsy and Brain Mapping Program at Good Samaritan Hospital in Los Angeles is considering using the diet on some highly motivated adults in the near future.

What are the side effects of anti-epileptic medications?
Side effects vary according to each medication. Typical side effects include dizziness, weight gain or loss, drunkenness feeling, nausea, fatigue. Other side effects which can be more serious but usually less frequent are gum swelling or discoloration, hair loss, aplastic anemia, and hepatic failure. Your physician will discuss the side effects with you when he prescribes a medication. Your pharmacist also will have special package inserts outlining the possible side effects to your medication. Should you have concerns or questions regarding your medication be sure to contact your physician. Do not discontinue your medication without discussing it with your physician first.

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