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Health Information For Parents
Intractable epilepsy is when seizures can’t be controlled by medicines. (Intractable means “not easily managed or relieved.”) It’s also called refractory, uncontrolled, or drug-resistant epileptic seizures.
About 1 in 3 of people with epilepsy have intractable seizures.
Intractable epilepsy happens when the medicine prescribed for a seizure type doesn’t work, stops working, or causes severe side effects that make it difficult to use.
Intractable epilepsy is common in kids who have infantile spasms, Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, or, less often, juvenile myoclonic epilepsy (JME).
Seizures caused by tumors, scarring from brain injury, or lack of oxygen also can be intractable.
Intractable epilepsy usually is diagnosed after three carefully chosen, safe medicines don’t completely control the seizures. The chances of a fourth medicine working are very low, so doctors will diagnose intractability at this point.
When medicines do not prevent a child’s seizures, doctors may recommend a special diet, like the high-fat, low-carbohydrate ketogenic diet.
Sometimes they recommend vagal nerve stimulation (VNS). In VNS, an implanted device (a stimulator) sends mild pulses of electrical energy to the brain through the vagus nerve.
Epilepsy surgery might be an option for about half of children with intractable epilepsy. Most of them can benefit significantly from surgery.
Talk to your doctor to see what treatments are available for your child. Make sure your child takes medicines as prescribed and avoids known seizure triggers, such as lack of sleep, antihistamine use, or excessive stress.
Always tell the doctor if you think a medicine isn’t working or you don’t notice any improvement. This helps the doctor give your child the best possible care.
It’s important to keep your child safe during a seizure. So make sure that other adults and caregivers (family members, babysitters, teachers, coaches, etc.) know what to do.
Epilepsy causes electrical signals in the brain to misfire, which can lead to multiple seizures. Anyone can get epilepsy at any age, but mostÂ new diagnoses are in kids.
Infantile spasms (IS) is a seizure disorder in babies. The spasms usually go away by age 4, but many babies with IS will have other kinds of epilepsy later.
Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (LGS) is a seizure disorder. Children with LGS have several different kinds of seizures.
Kids with juvenile myoclonic epilepsy (JME) have one or more of several different kinds of seizures, which begin around the age of puberty.
What teachers should know about epilepsy, and what they can do to help students with the condition succeed in school.
Epilepsy surgery is an operation done on the brain to reduce or stop seizures.
Seizures are a common symptom of epilepsy, a condition that affects millions of people worldwide. Learn all about epilepsy, including what to do if you see someone having a seizure.
It comes from a Greek word meaning “to hold or seize,” and seizures are what happen to people with epilepsy. Learn more about epilepsy in this article written just for kids.
Seizures are caused by a sudden surge of electrical activity in the brain. Find out what you need to know about seizures and what to do if your child has one.
You might hear a seizure called a convulsion, fit, or spell.
Although seizures can be frightening, usually they last only a few minutes, stop on their own, and are almost never life-threatening.
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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