An estimated 3.4 million Americans suffer from epilepsy, which includes 3 million adults and 470,000 children. If you or someone you know has epilepsy, you know how much this disorder can impact your everyday life. Not knowing when a seizure will occur causes major stress. Epilepsy also can negatively impact your physical health, mental health, memory, work, and personal life. Let’s take a look at what epilepsy is, what causes seizures, treatment options, and how chiropractic helps people with epilepsy.
What Is Epilepsy?
Epilepsy is a brain disorder that causes people to have seizures. A person must have two or more seizures to be diagnosed with epilepsy. This disorder affects people of all ages from newborns to seniors. Even though this disorder is prevalent, there are still myths that people believe. It’s important to address these as spreading false information helps no one. Epilepsy is not contagious, people cannot control their seizures, and there is currently no cure.
It can be hard to tell when a person is having a seizure, as there are numerous types of seizures. Some people look confused and may stare off in space, while other people may fall, shake, or become unaware of what is happening around them.
What Are the Types of Seizures?
Seizures are placed in two primary categories, which includes generalized and focal. Generalized seizures affect both sides of the brain, while focal seizures target one specific area of the brain. Within those categories, there are several types of seizures.
- Absence seizures – causes rapid blinking or staring into space for several seconds.
- Tonic-clonic seizures – can cause a person to fall, have muscle spasms, become unconscious, and cry out.
- Complex focal seizures – can cause a person to be confused or dazed, making it difficult for them to answer questions or listen for a few minutes.
- Secondary generalized seizures – causes the person to have a focal seizure and then a generalized seizure.
- Simple focal seizures – causes the person to twitch or experience sensory changes, such as an odd taste or smell.
What Causes Seizures?
There are several causes of seizures. Some common causes of epilepsy include a brain tumor, central nervous system infection, head injury, stroke, and traumatic brain injury. For children, they can be at risk for seizures due to Autism, brain malfunctions, congenital conditions, head trauma, and lack of oxygen during birth. Adults can be at risk for seizures due to Alzheimer’s congenital conditions, genetics, head trauma, and stroke.
Treatment Options for Epilepsy
For most people with epilepsy, their neurology doctors prescribe anti-seizure medications for their seizures. While this may work for some, 20 to 30 percent of epileptic patients do not experience any change in the frequency or severity of their seizures. These medications also have harsh side effects that cause even more health issues. This includes depression, dizziness, drowsiness, hair loss, headaches, irritability, mood changes, nausea, and weight gain.
Another less common and more risky option is to stimulate the Vagus nerve, which is linked to seizure disorders. A doctor implants a medical device into the patient’s body, which can then electrically stimulate the Vagus nerve to reduce seizures. Indeed, most people with epilepsy choose to pass on this risky, invasive treatment that doesn’t always work. Are there any other safer options?
How Can Chiropractors Help People with Epilepsy?
In the 19th century, scientists discovered that applying pressure to one of the two carotid arteries (located on either side of the neck) will stimulate the Vagus nerve and help prevent a seizure from occurring. This discovery has led to the Vagus nerve stimulation mentioned in this article above.
Since this breakthrough, chiropractors have found that the upper cervical area of the spine affects the Vagus nerve. This knowledge has helped chiropractors perform specific, gentle adjustments to the upper cervical area of the spine. In turn, this helps remove any vertebral subluxations and helps patients better manage their seizures. For many chiropractic patients with epilepsy, they can even experience less seizures. This can significantly improve their overall quality of life. Indeed, healthy nerve function is possible with chiropractic, which addresses the root cause of seizures.
To illustrate the chiropractic benefits for those with epilepsy, consider a study that examined seventeen pediatric patients with epilepsy. Fourteen children were taking anti-seizure medications, which did not work at all for them. Fifteen of those patients started receiving upper cervical chiropractic care, in which the chiropractor performed precise adjustments to correct any vertebral subluxations. All of the children that received chiropractic care observed major improvements to their epilepsy. Indeed, they were then able to better manage their disorder and have less seizures.
If you or someone you love has seizures, we encourage you to consider safer, all-natural alternatives that are effective at helping you manage your epilepsy. While there is not a cure currently, there are options besides medications and risky treatments. Everyone deserves to gain victory over their health. Let our Lithia chiropractors at At Last Chiropractic help you better manage your epilepsy and start achieving optimal health.