Treatment Guidelines For Breakthrough Seizures: Common Causes

Breakthrough seizures are sudden and unexpected seizures which occur in an individual who had achieved consistent control in the past, and usually results from forgetting to take the medication, taking less than the prescribed dose, withdrawal from excessive alcohol; or an illness.

When an epileptic individual has had a continuous period of freedom from seizures and then he unexpectedly experiences an attack, it is worrisome.

When breakthrough seizures occur, there can be severe clinical consequences.

Most Common Causes Of Breakthrough Seizures

  • There are various potential causes for the occurrence of a breakthrough seizure. The most important factor is the non adherence to the prescribed anti-epileptic drugs. Forgetting to take your medicine contributes to non adherence, and it can have really devastating ramifications. Whilst, the observance to medication is very vital in all illnesses and medical conditions, it is particularly important in epilepsy, given that, non-adherence triggers breakthrough seizures. There is also a chance that the patient fails to understand the nature of the treatment and the significance of adhering to the regimen; if the patient has a long interval in which he is seizure-free in the face of non adherence, he may think it is okay to skip the medications.
  • Another significant cause is the presence of an infection in the body.
  • Severe emotional stress and sleep deprivation are important etiological factors too.
  • Metabolic events such as a reduction in the levels of sodium or severe alterations in the blood sugar level are vital causative factors too.
  • Provocative factors such as – playing video games or being exposed to flash lights have also been known to set off a seizure.
  • There are also certain drugs and medications which decrease the seizure threshold and the addition of such an agent will most definitely make you more vulnerable to a breakthrough seizure.

Symptoms of Breakthrough Seizures

  • An epileptic attack – twitching, convulsions, unconsciousness.
  • Associated vomiting
  • Fever
  • Drug interaction

Treatment And Management Of Breakthrough Seizures

  • Your doctor will prescribe regular use of seizure preventing drugs. In case the medications are not quite beneficial, other methods such as – a special diet, complementary therapy, Vagus nerve stimulation or surgical intervention may be employed. The chief aim of the treatment is to prevent further episodes of seizures, circumvent side effects, and help the individual to lead an active life.
  • Occasionally, it may take some time to find an accurately correct dose of the most optimal medicine.
  • Anti-epileptic drugs prevent seizures effectively in a majority of the people who take them on a regular basis and in the prescribed dosage. Clinical trials show that 50 % of all patients having epileptic attacks gain full control of their seizures for a significant period of time. 20 % will enjoy a considerable decline in the number of epileptic episodes.
  • When you attempt to withdraw from the anti-epileptic drugs, you need to know that seizures tend to recur and hence, you must strictly observe all precautions.
  • Along with drug therapy, health care providers recommend diet therapy with ketogenic diet, Vagus nerve stimulation as well as other complementary therapies.
  • Most importantly you need to follow the instructions given to you by your physician regarding the dosage of your anti-epileptic medicine as well as rules regarding their tapering.