Medications and more medications. Maybe an electrical device implanted in your neck. In the end, surgery. This pretty much describes the medical treatment of epilepsy and migraines.
And, as a whole, this treatment paradigm sucks. It does nothing to protect the brain, which should be the number one goal. I should consider clarifying this by noting that it should be the number one goal after the seizures are under control, but only 30% or so of epileptic patients are able to achieve control of his or her seizures quickly with the first medication used.
There was a lengthy discussion recent on a Facebook epilepsy group page about SUDEP, or sudden unexplained death in epilepsy. This particular discussion generated one of the largest numbers of comments that I have seen on the epilepsy topic. It was largely driven by fear of SUDEP, the fear that it can strike any epileptic without warning and the fear that there is nothing that can be done to protect against it (not true, BTW, which was addressed in a prior article that can be read by clicking here).
And yet the risk of SUDEP is very low (about 1 in 1,000). What epileptics do not seem to understand, or are not educated on by his or her treating physician, is that the underlying process leading to the seizures is slowly destroying the brain. In every epileptic. As in 1 in every 1.
THAT is where the fear would be justified. If seizure patients had more concern over this slow, progressive brain damage, maybe there would be a much stronger push for ideas and changes to protect the brain. Which would be a good thing because there are a lot of things that you can (and should) do to protect your brain.
There are so many things that can be done that I wrote a book on the topic called Migraines and Epilepsy: How to find relief, live well and protect your brain (which can be found on the home page of this site).
This particular article addresses another aspect of this puzzle that I had not considered before, although it does make sense. It has been well established that inflammation and oxidative stress play a role in both the onset and the severity of seizures. There are a few areas of the body well-known to contribute to chronic inflammation because these areas are pockets of localized infection that continually stimulate the immune system and inflammation.
The mouth, when not properly cared for with good oral hygiene, is just such a place. A cesspool of partying bacteria thumbing their collective noses at the immune system, while the immune systems fights in vain to control this type of chronic infection. This is the kind of scenario that sets the stage for chronic inflammation and, since we have already established that chronic inflammation has been linked to seizures, it makes sense that periodontal health should be linked to seizures.
Of course, this is the kind of information that will likely never get shared with seizure patients and society will continue to think that if seizure management is strictly limited to medications. Here ar e the details of the study:
- When compared to a group without seizures, seizure patients were more likely to have bad oral hygiene, gingivitis and periodontitis
- Seizure frequency was worse with bad oral hygiene, gingivitis and periodontal disease.
I wouldn’t go so far as to say that brushing, flossing and tongue scraping can stop seizures, but clearly, based on this study, oral health is a must for all patients wanting better control of his or her seizures.