Refractory seizure disorders

A Guide to Refractory Seizure Disorders

Refractory seizure disorders can be a confusing diagnosis. Seizures are rarely a singular event, and some people experience recurrent seizures without a definitive diagnosis. When recurring seizures occur without a known underlying cause, the diagnosis of a refractory seizure disorder is often given. Here we discuss what refractory seizure disorders are, how they are diagnosed, and how they are managed.

What is a Refractory Seizure Disorder?

A refractory seizure disorder is a type of seizure disorder that is resistant to standard medications and treatments. Someone with a refractory seizure disorder experiences recurrent seizures despite treatment with multiple medications and possibly other interventions, such as surgery. The cause of the seizure disorder is unknown, as there is no evidence of an underlying disorder or brain abnormality. Refractory seizure disorders can impact people of any age.

Diagnosis of Refractory Seizure Disorders

To be diagnosed with a refractory seizure disorder, an EEG (electroencephalogram) is first performed. This test measures the electrical activity of the brain, and is used to see if there is any evidence of abnormal brain activity. If there is no evidence of an underlying disorder, the patient is then diagnosed with a refractory seizure disorder.

Management of Refractory Seizure Disorders

Once diagnosed with a refractory seizure disorder, the treatment plan will depend on the individual’s symptoms and needs. Antiepileptic drugs are often the first line of treatment in an effort to control seizures. If medications are not controlling the seizures, other interventions may be recommended, such as vagus nerve stimulation or a ketogenic diet. It is important to discuss all the options available with a healthcare professional and decide on a treatment plan that works best for the individual.

Coping with Refractory Seizure Disorders

Living with a refractory seizure disorder can be challenging. It is important to focus on self-care and stress management. Some ways to do this include:

  • Getting regular exercise
  • Eating a well-balanced diet
  • Getting enough sleep
  • Talking to a counselor or therapist

It is also important to remember that while a refractory seizure disorder can be difficult to manage, with the right treatment plan and lifestyle changes, it is possible to minimize the frequency of seizures and maintain a good quality of life.