Friday, December 16, 2011

Treating Epilepsy While Pregnant

Epilepsy drugs have acceptable safety profile with pregnancy

It has been well established that there is a risk of birth defects in the baby for pregnant women taking the anti-seizure medication phenytoin. Newer anti-epileptic drugs are safer, and a new study aimed to confirm the data.

A study has now indicated that the newer anti-epileptic drugs - Lamictal (lamotrigine), Keppra (levetiracetam), and Topamax or Topiragen (topirmate) - pose no additional risk for birth defects as compared with traditional medications used to treat epilepsy.

Ask your specialists about medications and their effects on pregnancy.

The study was conducted at the University of Melbourne and led by Professor Frank Vajda. Prior to this research, data on the health and success of pregnancies among women using newer anti-epileptic drugs was limited.

The study analyzed data on pregnancy outcomes for 1317 women with epilepsy who used the newer drugs in the first trimester. These pregnancies were compared with those of women who used traditional anti-epileptic drugs - Di-Phen/Dilantin/Phenytek (phenytoin), Depacon (valproate), and Tegretol (carbamazepine).

The study also analyzed data on the pregnancy outcomes of a control group of untreated women.

The results showed no higher incidence of birth defects among women taking the newer drugs than among women taking traditional medications or among the control group. Rates of birth defects for each of the three newer medications were equal to or lower than the rate for the untreated control group (5.2%).

The most statistically significant correlation was the high rate of birth defects (16.3%) among women taking valproate.

This study should provide reasonable assurance to pregnant women that taking Lamictal, Keppra, or Topamax will, in all likelihood, not interfere with pregnancy.

The study was published on November 18, 2011 in the Journal of Clinical Neuroscience.

Source : dailyRx (Relevant Health News)


Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Gelastic Epilepsy

Last updated 14 Jul 2009, review date due 10 Mar 2012

Gelastic epilepsy refers to a type of epilepsy, in which the seizures are 'gelastic', gelastikos being the Greek word for laughter. Gelastic epilepsy is very rare and occurs slightly more commonly in boys than in girls. Of every 1000 children with epilepsy, only one or at the very most, two children will have gelastic epilepsy.


Seizures may begin at any age but usually before three or four years of age. The seizures usually start with laughter and the laughter is often described as being 'hollow' or 'empty' and not very pleasant. The laughter occurs suddenly, comes on for no obvious reason and is usually completely out of place.

Sometimes older children may complain of a warning beforehand, although they are not always able to describe exactly what this warning is like.

To read more :

Epilepsy Awareness by Epilepsy Action UK

( I am not aware of such a form of epilepsy. Although it is a 1 or 2 in 1000 cases, it is still interesting and knowledgeable to read and know more about this type of epilepsy. Knowledge gained is always an asset, never a waste and may come in handy. We never know. - Serene )


Friday, November 18, 2011

Woman rescued after suffering epileptic fit in disused mine

A woman who suffered an epileptic fit while caving in a disused mine was carried to safety after a marathon six-and-a-half hour rescue mission. The woman was hundreds of feet underground with friends in Shropshire when the incident happened at around 9.30pm yesterday. West Midlands Ambulance Service said an ambulance, an incident support officer and the Trust's Hazardous Area Response Team (HART) attended the scene, at a disused mine in Snailbeach, near Minsterley.

A spokeswoman said: "The woman, believed to be 24 years old, had been enjoying her hobby of caving with a group of friends in the mine when she suffered an epileptic fit.

"Fortunately, the woman had medication with her for her epilepsy which the group quickly administered. Whilst some of the group stayed with the woman, others made their way out of the mine to dial 999 and await the arrival of ambulance crews at the entrance to the mine shaft."

The spokeswoman said it took the rescue team almost an hour of walking and climbing to reach the woman. She added: "Once with the patient, the HART paramedic assessed and stabilised her condition. As well as suffering several fits, the woman was complaining of pain in her back and side after reportedly slipping during the fit.

"The paramedic and mine rescue team immobilised the woman in a rescue stretcher and carried her to the bottom of The Chapel Shaft, which is about 300ft vertically up to the surface.

"A tripod rope system was set up at the surface and the woman was winched up with the doctor, a task which in itself took around 30 minutes.

"Once at the surface, the woman was taken to Royal Shrewsbury Hospital by land ambulance for further assessment and treatment.

"The whole rescue operation took six and a half hours."

Read more:

PS : Having read this news I am deterred from giving rock climbing a try. Though I can be a risk taker in many instances, to imagine myself suffering from an epileptic fit while dangling or plunging to death during an indoor rock climbing activity really scares me out of my skin.

Flashes of a past seizure that happened just at the edge of a descending escalator were enough to send shrivels down my spine. I cannot imagine what could have happened to me if I had taken a step or two down the escalator. Would I have survived that epileptic fall? Would I be critically injured? Whatever the outcome, only God knows and I like to acknowledge God spared me that possible near death or sudden death encounter ( Serene Low )



Thursday, October 13, 2011


Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Is it an alien object? Its " Epilepsy Super Hero Toteman" to the rescue !!!

Someone has a seizure in the busy street of downtown and Epilepsy Super Hero Toteman is there to help and rescue. People were helpless and fearful of the sight of an unexpected man fallen onto the street, stiff and foaming in his mouth. Many kept their distances away and many just watched in horror. Worse still, some were videoing the incident with their mobile phones as if it is a bizzare occurrence. Toteman takes control of the situation and did everything sensibly and correctly for the man in a state of seizure. The curious crowd praise Toteman for his heroic and life saving act.

It all sounds so cartoonish doesn't it? Well, the cartoon world has become a reality with a real Super Hero Toteman around to help out, educate and promote epilepsy awareness. I received an email from Toteman on the 28th of September asking me to assist him in his epilepsy awareness work by passing out words about it.

(Below is Toteman's email )


I am hoping maybe you could help get the word out for my Epilepsy Awareness Comic Book. Please see my website for my Epilepsy Awareness Comic Book. There are free downloads of the comic. Lets help spread Epilepsy Awareness to children. Please pass this along and possibly make an entry of this. As Epilepsy Awareness month is approaching this would be a great entry for a blog.
I have worked with the Epilepsy Foundation of America and other Epilepsy Foundations in the United States. - Please visit Toteman at this link

For everyone who has read this posting, please take some time and make some efforts to help Toteman in his epilepsy promotion mission. You can spread this message by word of mouth or add a post of this same nature into your websites or blogs. Thank you very much.


Thursday, September 15, 2011

Invite Your Local Epilepsy Organization to the Epilepsy Directory

Dear all,

I am assisting Jessica, my dear epilepsy activist friend, in spreading the message and awareness about epilepsy and the fantastic blog she has founded. Jessica has worked very hard to establish her blog " Living Well With Epilepsy " for the goodness of everyone. Her blog trumpets out loud about her goals to promote epilepsy awareness to great heights. For her great efforts, we should not just applaud her but also join forces with her to further strengten her existing strong and united network of epilepsy webs, blogs and organisations.

Below is Jessica's appeal to everyone.

November is Epilepsy Awareness Month and it will be here before we know it. Since you have added your site to the Living Well With Epilepsy Directory I'm reaching out for your help. I would be thrilled if you would reach out to your local epilepsy awareness organization to encourage them to add their link to the directory. Below I have included sample email text that you can use to reach out to your local affiliate.

" Dear Epilepsy Organization:

November is Epilepsy Awareness Month and it will be here before we know it. I know we are all trying to get the word out about epilepsy and maximize resources. So, I wish to let you know about an online directory that has been effective in driving traffic to my own epilepsy awareness site.
Jessica Keenan Smith, the founder of Living Well With Epilepsy, hosts a directory of epilepsy websites, blogs and organizations. I encourage you to add the URL to your website, blog, vlog, or even a podcast. Just use the simple linky tool provided on the site and add. Your organization will be instantly added to the directory. You will find an increase in traffic to your site and also gain additional outreach.

I have provided the URL for your convenience :
If you also know of a site that should be listed but do not own the site, feel free to forward the directory address. The organization can add their URL when they have a moment.
Thanks for your help in spreading the word about epilepsy. "
Thanks for YOUR help in spreading the word. The more organizations we can add to the directory the better! One last thing, if you have a moment please vote for Living Well With Epilepsy as a Parents Magazine's Best Blogs.

To Vote:
Thanks all! Best to you and yours.
Jessica Keenan Smith

Monday, August 15, 2011

NATIONAL HEALTHY BONES WEEK ( 1st to 7th August 2011 )

Established in 1994, National Healthy Bones Week (NHBW) is a national campaign coordinated by Dairy Australia that acts to highlight the important role dairy foods and the nutrients they contain, can play in the development and maintenance of healthy bones and prevention of osteoporosis.

In 2011 National Healthy Bones Week will focus on the importance of a calcium-rich breakfast for bone health. This follows a new Australian study which showed children who skipped breakfast were less likely to meet the dietary recommendations for dairy foods such as milk, cheese and yogurt, which are the major contributors of calcium to the diet.

Why is calcium important?

Calcium is essential for building and maintaining strong bones. It combines with other minerals (like phosphorus) to form hard crystals that give bones their strength. Because our bodies can’t make calcium, it must come from our diet. If we don’t eat enough calcium-rich food, calcium will be taken from the bones to be used for other body functions, and over time bones will become weak and brittle leading to a disease called osteoporosis. This is why it is so crucial to have a daily supply of calcium-rich foods throughout life.


P M 24, Philippe Mouchel at 24 Russell Street is a one of a kind modern French Bistro and Rotisserie. With its fresh, contemporary take on French cuisine, and modern warehouse setting with lofty ceilings, the venue is both inviting and energized.

On the 3rd of August 2011, my son and I woke up at 7 am to the cool morning crisp air of Melbourne to start our morning walk to P M 24. After a twenty minutes walk from where we live, we were warmly invited into P M 24 by two friendly staff. In conjunction with National Healthy Bones Week, P M 24 was offering complimentary calcium-rich breakfast for anyone who turned up at its venue from 7.30 am till 9.30 am.

The smell of hot chocolate, cappuccino and latte was so enticing that we helped ourselves to a latte each. My son also got us a bottle of yogurt each with two bars of chocolate coated muesli. As I was enjoying every sip of my latte, I noticed three chefs behind the coffee bar busying preparing something that looked like sandwiches. I was right. We had a sandwich each made out of two pieces of white bread, two layers of cheese and a yummy healthy piece of ham baked in an oven. Ooooo!!!…wowwww!!!…deliciousssssss…..set of calcium-rich breakfast indeed for anyone to start off their day and naturally to keep their bones packed with needed calcium.

We now know why calcium is important to our bones. Apart from having the right diet rich in calcium, exercise and vitamin D are also equally important to maintain healthy bones. Vitamin D can be derived from supplements or from exposure to sunshine. Exercise can be in any form.

Generally, all people with epilepsy will suffer calcium loss in bone faster than people without epilepsy. The reason for this is because all anti epilepsy drugs have side effects especially calcium depletion. So, children and elderly people with epilepsy need higher intake of calcium for growing bones and prevention of breakage of brittle bones. In my case, I have not failed to pop my daily dose of 2 tablets of liquid calcium + vitamin D to maintain my bone condition which was diagnosed as osteopinia.

Thank you very much for the excellent calcium packed yummy breakfast compliments from P M 24. This healthy bone awareness week is a fabulous way of promotion of intake of calcium. I hope everyone and other countries will also follow this concept of promotion.


Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Foetal epilepsy drug danger shown

Brain signals

The risk posed to unborn children by powerful epilepsy drugs could be easier to avoid, following an 11-year study. While the four most common drugs are all linked with a higher chance of birth defects, researchers believe they have pinpointed the safest.

The 3,900 patient study, published in Lancet Neurology, could help doctors work out whether to switch drugs or cut doses. The Epilepsy Society said avoiding seizures in pregnancy was a priority.

The link between epilepsy drugs and birth defects was first noticed in the 1960s, but choosing the right drug for women of childbearing age without exposing them to the risk of seizures can be a balancing act for doctors. Simply taking a patient off medication entirely is not usually an option, as uncontrolled seizures could harm both baby and mother.

Earlier studies have highlighted valproic acid as the drug most linked to birth defects, but there has been little information as to the safety of alternatives. The latest research, from the Karolinska Institute in Sweden and the University of Pavia in Italy, also looked in detail at other drugs such as carbamazepine, lamotrigine and phenobarbital. Researchers studied 3,909 women and 4,540 pregnancies. Of those, there were 230 pregnancies involving major birth defects, including heart defects and neural tube defects such as spina bifida.

None of the major drugs was given the all clear, and as the dose of each increased, so did the risk. However, the lowest risk was linked to smaller doses of lamotrigine and carbamazepine.

The researchers stressed that, regardless of which drug was used, the vast majority of women still gave birth to perfectly healthy children. They added: "Our results show that dose selection is as crucial as the choice of drug."

In an editorial in the same journal Professor W Allen Hauser, from Colombia University in New York, said that the findings were "important" because they offered alternatives to the drugs linked most strongly to problems. He said: "The data provide another reason for use of the lowest dose of a drug associated with optimum seizure control.

"Incidence of major congenital malformations associated with a low dose of a higher risk drug might be lower than that associated with a high dose of a lower-risk drug."

Professor John Duncan, Medical Director at The Epilepsy Society, said that the results would be useful to GPs with a specialist interest in epilepsy and hospital neurologists, both of whom would be well placed to offer advice to women. But he warned that controlling seizures should remain a priority, even during pregnancy: "It should be remembered that a lot of women have epilepsy, and it is not an uncommon cause of death during pregnancy.

"This research helps to clarify the extent of the risks involved with these drugs - and all drugs carry some degree of risk."


Monday, May 16, 2011

Ketogenic Diet Gains Popularity in Treating Epilepsy

Related articles: Health > Western Medicine
HIPPOCRATES: He cured epilepsy with diet and fasting. (Engraving by Peter Paul Rubens, 1638, courtesy of the National Library of Medicine.)
The ketogenic diet, a high-fat, adequate-protein, low-carbohydrate diet, is regaining popularity to treat difficult-to-control epilepsy, particularly in children.

The classic ketogenic diet contains a 4:1 ratio by weight of fat to combined amounts of protein and carbohydrate. The diet has proven to be effective in half of the patients who try it and very effective in one-third of the patients. It has given new hope to parents whose epileptic children status couldn’t be improved by anticonvulsant medication.

After stroke, epilepsy is one of the most common neurological disorders. It is estimated that if affects 50 million people worldwide. Most people with epilepsy can successfully control their seizures with medication. However, 20 to 30 percent fail to do so despite trying different drugs. Particularly for them, the diet is proving valuable in epilepsy management.

Knowledge about this diet isn’t new. Ancient Greek physicians treated diseases, including epilepsy, by altering their patients’ diets. In the book “Epidemics,” Hippocrates describes the case of a man whose epilepsy was cured with drastic diet and fasting.

Erasistratus, a Greek anatomist and royal physician under Seleucus I Nicator of Syria, stated, “One inclining to epilepsy should be made to fast without mercy and be put on short rations.”

In modern times, the first study of fasting as a treatment for epilepsy was conducted in France in 1911. A few years later, an osteopathic physician named Hugh Conklin from Battle Creek, Michigan, treated his epilepsy patients with fasting and obtained very good results.

Because he believed that epilepsy was caused by a toxin produced in the intestines, he recommended a fast lasting 18 to 25 days and a “water diet” to allow the toxin to be eliminated from the body.

In 1921, Dr. Rusell Wilder, at the Mayo clinic, coined the name ketogenic diet, based on previous research, to describe a diet that produced a high level of compounds called ketones in the blood through a diet consisting largely of fat and lacking in carbohydrate.

During the 1920s and 1930s, when there were only a few effective anticonvulsant drugs, this diet was widely used and studied to treat epilepsy. In 1938, with the discovery of phenytoin, an anticonvulsant drug, the focus changed to the development of new compounds of this kind.

The ketogenic diet has had a revival in recent times after it was found that children with difficult-to-treat epilepsy were more likely to find relief with the ketogenic diet than to benefit from trying a different anticonvulsant drug.

There is now evidence that adolescents and some adults can also benefit form this diet. However, children with a focal brain lesion are more likely to become seizure-free with surgery than with the ketogenic diet.

Although it can be very effective, the ketogenic diet may have complications. About 1 in 20 children on the ketogenic diet will develop kidney stones, which can be prevented to a certain extent by providing some specific supplements. In adults, common side effects include weight loss and constipation.

In addition, the diet can present some difficulties to caregivers and to the patients due to the time commitment involved in planning meals and measuring the ingredients, particularly because a strict adherence to the dietary plan is required.

However, since the diet can provide a cure to children without the use of dangerous drugs, it is an approach worth taking when dealing with this serious disease.

Dr. C├ęsar Chelala is an international public health consultant.


Monday, April 25, 2011

Hundreds Take Epilepsy Test In Gulu

Tuesday, 19th April, 2011 (By Chris Ocowun)

HUNDREDS of people, including children and elderly patients with signs of epilepsy, have flooded Gulu regional mental health unit for neurological examination.

The tests will be done by five neurological doctors from Germany and Austria.
The doctors hope to examine over 1,000 epileptic patients in Gulu, Moyo, Adjumani and Kitgum districts.

Neurocysticercosis is a leading cause of seizures and epilepsy in the developing world.

The head of the neurological doctors, Andrea Winkler, yesterday told journalists at the health unit that they would spend two weeks conducting tests in northern Uganda.

“We are here to examine patients and decide on the treatment. About 300 of those found with epilepsy fits will be taken to Mulago Hospital for Computerised Tomography (CT) scan,” she said.

Winkler said the prevalence of neurocysticercosis was high in sub-Saharan African countries like Uganda, Tanzania and Zambia.

“We want to know the prevalence of those who suffer from neurocysticercosis, which is caused by the pork tapeworm in the brain of a person. You can get cysticercosis from infected pigs, poor hygiene and undercooked pork,” Winkler explained.

“The symptoms of this illness are caused by the development of characteristic cysts, which most often affect the central nervous system (neurocysticercosis), skeletal muscle, eyes, and skin. Many individuals with cysticercosis never experience any symptoms,” Winkler added.

According to Winkler, cysticercosis is caused by the dissemination of the larval form of the pork tapeworm, taenia sodium.

She said when the eggs of taenia sodium are ingested by humans, they hatch and the embryos penetrate the intestinal wall and reach the bloodstream.
The formation of cysts in different body tissues leads to the development of symptoms, which vary depending on the location and number of cysts.

Winkler disclosed that humans are the host for taenia sodium, saying they may carry the tapeworm in their intestine, often without symptoms.

She said neurocysticercosis is treatable using anthelmintic drugs. Winkler added that they are working in collaboration with Gulu University faculty of medicine to carry out neurological examination of patients with epilepsy.

She said cysticerrcosis can be prevented through public education, avoidance of raw or undercooked pork and good personal hygiene among other ways.

Paul Aluma, a psychiatric at Gulu regional mental health unit blamed the high rate of epilepsy attacks in the region to the LRA war.


Sunday, March 27, 2011

Epilepsy killed celebrity polar bear Knut

Knut (above), the celebrity orphan polar bear who drew thousands of visitors to Berlin zoo, died after an epileptic fit, according to neurologists quoted by Focus magazine. -- PHOTO: AFP

FRANKFURT - KNUT, the celebrity orphan polar bear who drew thousands of visitors to Berlin zoo, died after an epileptic fit, according to neurologists quoted by Focus magazine.

A CAT scan had revealed abormalities in the brain of the bear, who may have inherited epilepsy from his father Lars, also a sufferer.

Four year-old Knut, who won global fame as he grew from a cute cub but grew into a 200kg predator, died in front of horrified visitors at the zoo last weekend.

Neurologists said the fit was triggered by a brain disorder yet to be identified. The magazine said Knut's brain is now being studied at the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wild Animal Research (IZW). Knut shot to fame when he was rejected by his mother and was hand-reared instead by his keeper Thomas Doerflein.

Visitors came to watch keeper and cub playing together. The German post office produced a stamp in Knut's honour and the bear appeared on the cover of numerous publications, including the German edition of Vanity Fair. -- REUTERS


Tuesday, February 1, 2011


"I shuddered at thoughts of having to take anti epilepsy drug (AED) to control seizures for a lifetime. The side effects of all these chemically produced drugs with some toxic levels would destroy my health into crumbles beyond repair or even kill me first before seizures could. That being the case, I'd prefer a seizure filled life without AED." These were my thoughts and fears when I was told to take AED for life at an age of 18. Today, 33 years down the road, I am still alive and reasonably healthy after taking AED.

By now, needless to say, any possible side effects of AED could have taken toll on my health. Some friends have been advising me to watch out for my colon, kidneys, heart and liver. With so much toxicity in my body, they said I ought to go for some detoxifying course, engaging in chi exercises, taking more supplements like calcium and multi-vits, etc, etc.

In my opinion, I think it is not only me, a person with epilepsy at my age who has to guard my health in all ways. Taking good care of our health is something everyone should do regardless of age and state of health. And also, whether one has epilepsy or any other illnesses, one must always seek proper treatment and follow doctors' advices.

My advice to newly diagnosed people with epilepsy is never fail to keep up with neuro's appointments and always remember to take AED as prescribed. Adopt positive attitudes and outlooks of life. Live life as normal as you can and challenge yourself to always live life to it's fullest.

My life with epilepsy has been purposeful, meaningful, artful and beautiful. What about yours? Care to share it here with me?