Deep Bench: Living with epilepsy, knowing the risks

Published: Feb. 14, 2020 at 4:45 PM CST
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Epilepsy remains a mystery to many, yet more Americans are affected than ever before. At least 3.4 million people live with epilepsy in the United States.

Epilepsy is a disorder of the brain that is characterized by seizures. Seizures can be debilitating and even life threatening. Just one convulsive seizure is a potentially shattering event that increases the risk of significant health consequences, including physical injury and cognitive decline.

Although epilepsy is widely recognized, few understand it – even those who know someone with the disorder. And this misunderstanding causes stigma that makes it harder to treat,while the number of adults and children challenged by epilepsy in the U.S. is increasing.

Dr. James Wheless joined NewsChannel 7 at 4 via satellite. He is a professor and Chief of Pediatric Neurology at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center.

He said freedom from seizures is the ultimate goal in epilepsy treatment, but missed doses can get in the way of achieving it. For most people with this condition, it’s a question of when, not if they will miss a dose of their medication.

In fact, 71% of epilepsy patients surveyed have missed at least one dose, and almost 50% report that a missed dose of medication was followed by a subsequent seizure.

Poor seizure control means a higher likelihood of emergency room visits and greater healthcare costs. Yet many with epilepsy may be reluctant to discuss their struggles even with their doctor.

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