Epilepsy

Dealing with Breakthrough Seizures

You’ve been doing everything right. You see your epilepsy doctor regularly and carefully follow her advice. You take your medicine faithfully, every day and every dose. And it has paid off: you haven’t had a seizure in years.

Then one day, out of nowhere, a partial-onset seizure strikes. What happened?

Doctors have a name for seizures in patients with well-controlled epilepsy: breakthrough seizures. They unexpectedly break through successful treatment plans with new seizures that may leave patients who were caught off guard surprised and concerned.

Why breakthrough seizures happen

Some breakthrough seizures happen for a reason. Patients may forget to take their epilepsy medicine, or start taking less of it than they are supposed to, diminishing its effectiveness. And there are other possible triggers, including stress or illness. But sometimes no cause of breakthrough seizures can be identified.

Regardless of the cause, it’s important to discuss any reappearance of seizures with your doctor. It may be time to consider adjusting your treatment plan.

There are many different medications on the market that help to keep epilepsy symptoms under control. But not all medicines work for all of the different types of seizures. What’s more, individuals respond differently to different medicines. Side effects are sometimes a problem too. And some epilepsy patients find that an epilepsy drug that worked well for them at first loses effectiveness after a while.

It all adds up to one thing: controlling seizures, and keeping them well controlled, often takes some trial and error, and some adjustments in treatment over time.

What helps

Sometimes increasing the dose of your anticonvulsant medicine or switching to a different drug may restore seizure control. Also, many patients benefit by adding an additional drug to their current medication, a sort of one-two punch that has proven to reduce the number of partial-onset seizures.

Talk your treatment options over carefully with your doctor and work together to find the best choices for you.

Sources:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Causes_of_seizures#Breakthrough_seizure
https://www.epilepsy.com/article/2014/3/tolerance-and-honeymoon-effect 
https://epilepsychicago.org/epilepsy/treatment/breakthrough-seizures/

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