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Epilepsy 101 by Alok Pasricha, M.D.

Epilepsy is a central nervous system (neurological) disorder defined by unprovoked and recurrent seizures. Seizures are abnormal, uncontrolled electrical activity of the brain causing a sudden change in behavior, sensations and sometimes a loss of awareness. Epilepsy and seizures can affect anyone. There are 3.4 million people in the United States that have epilepsy and 1 in 26 will develop this condition in their lifetime.

Causes of Epilepsy
People can get epilepsy for a variety of reasons. In children and younger adults, the cause is often genetic or due to birth trauma or infection as an infant. In adults, the causes can vary. Common causes are stroke, a brain tumor or medical conditions like poorly controlled diabetes or medication interactions.

Patients can be seen having a convulsion, acting confused or disoriented or simply losing consciousness. Convulsions can affect the entire body or one limb. After these episodes, the patient may seem tired or groggy and may even have a headache. There is a risk of physical and brain injury with prolonged uncontrolled convulsions.

What to Do
Patients suspected of having seizures or epilepsy should get prompt evaluation by a qualified physician and undergo testing like a brain MRI or EEG and should be prescribed anti-seizure medication promptly, if indicated.

Patients with underlying epilepsy should take meticulous care of their health. They should avoid missing meals and becoming hypoglycemic. They should ensure adequate sleeping hours, avoid excessive emotional stress and excessive alcohol consumption. Care should also be taken when starting or changing medications as certain medications can increase the chance of having breakthrough seizures.

Available Treatments
Thankfully we have multiple effective and safe anti-seizure medications available nowadays. There are even surgical options for select patients like vagal nerve stimulator or brain surgery. The neurologist can identify the appropriate seizure medications for a particular type of epilepsy. In certain circumstances, epilepsy can be completely cured and it is treatable in a vast majority of cases.


Dr. Pasricha’s office is located on the campus of Hillcrest Hospital South at 8803 S. 101st E. Ave. in Tulsa. To make an appointment with him, please obtain a referral from your primary care provider.