When to See an Epilepsy Specialist

Ask the Expert

Q:

I am being treated for epilepsy, but am still living with uncontrolled seizures. Should I see a specialist?


A:

After a person is diagnosed with epilepsy, they generally see a neurologist who develops a treatment plan aimed at the goal of epilepsy therapy, which is seizure freedom with minimal side effects. A neurologist, a doctor who specializes in the brain and nervous system, can conduct exams and tests (such as a brain scan) to determine what type of epilepsy you have and the best antiepileptic drug to control your seizures. Approximately 70 percent of epilepsy patients may obtain seizure control with antiepileptic drugs or medications.

In certain circumstances, when patients are struggling to achieve the goal of epilepsy treatment—seizure freedom with minimal side-effects—your doctor may think about referring you to a specialist. An epileptologist, a neurologist who specializes in epilepsy, often treats patients whose seizures are not under control or who have a type of epilepsy that require specialized treatment.

In addition to a neurologist or epileptologist, you may also work with:

  • An epilepsy nurse: A nurse who works with neurologists and epileptologists and specializes in epilepsy. Epilepsy nurses often have unique insight and experience with epilepsy, including advanced knowledge of the condition and information about treatment options and medication side effects.
  • A neurosurgeon: A health care provider who treats brain and nervous system disorders with surgery. In some cases, epilepsy that cannot be controlled with medication can be treated with surgery in the part of the brain that causes seizures.
  • A neuropsychologist or neuropsychiatrist: A professional who works with patients who have mental and emotional issues related to seizures and/or epilepsy treatment.

Learn more about living well with epilepsy by visiting www.HealthyWomen.org/epilepsy and EpilepsyAdvocate.com.

This program is sponsored by UCB, Inc.

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