Epilepsy FAQ

Andrew Patrick andrew at calvin.dgbt.doc.ca
Wed Jul 2 14:35:52 EST 1997

Archive-name: medicine/epilepsy-faq
Posting-Frequency: monthly
Last-modified: 1996/07/15 
Version: 4.3
URL: http://debra.dgbt.doc.ca/~andrew/epilepsy/

                                Epilepsy FAQ

                  Frequently Asked Questions about Epilepsy

                           Version 4.3 -- 96/07/15

Maintained by Andrew Patrick (andrew at calvin.dgbt.doc.ca). New material and
suggestions are always welcome.
URL for this FAQ and other information:


     Please note that this Epilepsy information MAY NOT BE ACCURATE OR
     COMPLETE. Anyone with serious questions about Epilepsy should
     consult their doctor. Some of this material was prepared by
     Epilepsy Ottawa-Carleton and Epilepsy Ontario, and it is used with
     permission. Please contact me before you use any of this material
     in other information products.


                     Questions Covered in this Document

   * Basic Information

        o What does "Epilepsy" mean?
        o Is Epilepsy a disease?
        o What is a seizure?
        o What is an aura?
        o When was Epilepsy discovered?

   * People with Epilepsy

        o What kind of people have Epilepsy?
        o How many people have Epilepsy?
        o Does Epilepsy strike at any particular age?
        o Does Epilepsy occur more in some cultures?

   * Types of Seizures

        o Are there different types of seizures?
        o What is the difference between partial and general seizures?
        o What are partial seizures?
        o What are complex partial seizures?
        o What are absence (petit mal) seizures?
        o What are tonic-clonic (grand mal) seizures?
        o What are other types of seizures?
        o What are "status" seizures?
        o What are pseudoseizures?
        o How do you distinguish epileptic seizures from pseudoseizures?
        o Can seizures occur if a person does not have Epilepsy?
        o What are the seizures like?
        o What does it feel like to have a seizure?
        o How long do the seizures last?
        o Is there such a thing as a "minor" case of Epilepsy?

   * Causes and Triggers

        o What causes Epilepsy?
        o Is Epilepsy inherited?
        o Is Epilepsy contagious?
        o Is it caused by a virus?
        o Can certain things trigger seizures?
        o Can seizures be triggered by flashing lights?
        o Can certain foods or drinks cause seizures?
        o Can lack of sleep cause seizures?
        o Can low blood sugar trigger seizures?
        o Can Nutrasweet (Aspartame) trigger seizures?
        o Does alcohol affect seizures?

   * First Aid for Seizures

        o How can I help someone who is having a seizure?
        o What if my child has a seizure during his sleep?

   * Diagnosis

        o How is Epilepsy diagnosed?
        o What types of doctors can diagnose and treat Epilepsy?
        o Can a person with Epilepsy have a false negative EEG?
        o Can a person have a false positive EEG for Epilepsy.
        o Is my child having absence seizures or just day dreaming?
        o What conditions are sometimes mis-diagnosed as Epilepsy?
        o Can seizures go un-noticed?

   * Treatments

        o Is there a cure for Epilepsy?
        o Is it fatal?
        o What kinds of treatments are available?
        o Are there drug treatments for Epilepsy?
        o How do drugs work to control seizures?
        o What drugs are used to treat Epilepsy?
        o How effective are the drug treatments?
        o Do these drugs have side effects?
        o What is a "blood level"?
        o What are the symptoms of too high a drug level?
        o How much do the drugs cost?
        o Is it necessary for all people with Epilepsy to be on medication?
        o When is surgery used to treat Epilepsy?
        o What is the likelihood that my child will outgrow a seizure
        o Do non-traditional approaches help?
        o Does transcendental meditation have any effect on Epilepsy?
        o Does biofeedback help?
        o Is there a special diet for people with Epilepsy?
        o What is a ketogenic diet?

   * Living with Epilepsy

        o Can people living with Epilepsy lead normal lives?
        o What can people with Epilepsy do to help their health?
        o Who should know that I have Epilepsy?
        o Is there prejudice against people with Epilepsy?
        o Are there any problems having children?
        o Can medications for controlling Epilepsy harm a nursing baby?
        o Can people living with Epilepsy drive a car?
        o Can people living with Epilepsy go swimming?
        o Can Epilepsy lead to problems at school?
        o Can Epilepsy cause emotional problems?
        o Can Epilepsy lead to problems with self-esteem?

   * Working With Epilepsy

        o What occupations are not appropriate for people with Epilepsy?
        o Can people with Epilepsy fly a plane?
        o Is there a problem with job safety?
        o Can an employer ask about Epilepsy on a job application?
        o Can an employer ask about Epilepsy during a job interview?
        o Can I be fired because I have Epilepsy?
        o Can people with Epilepsy get social assistance?

   * Epilepsy and Other Disorders

        o Is Epilepsy related to other neurological problems?
        o Is Epilepsy related to mental illness?
        o Can Epilepsy affect intelligence?
        o Is there a link between memory loss and Epilepsy?
        o Is Epilepsy related to asthma?
        o Are there any diseases that persons with Epilepsy more prone to?

   * Miscellaneous

        o Do animals get Epilepsy?
        o Can dogs sense a seizure in humans before it strikes?

   * More Information

        o Where can I get more information about Epilepsy?
        o What books are available on Epilepsy?
        o Where can I find information on the Internet about Epilepsy?


Topic: Basic Information

Q: What does "Epilepsy" mean?

     The word "Epilepsy" is derived from a Greek word meaning "a condition
     of being overcome, seized, or attacked." People used to believe that
     the seizure was caused by a demon, and Epilepsy became known as a
     sacred disease. This is the background to the myths and fears that
     surround Epilepsy; myths that colour people's attitudes and make the
     goal of a normal life more difficult than it needs to be be for people
     who have Epilepsy. The word "Epilepsy" means nothing more than the
     tendency to have seizures.

Q: Is Epilepsy a disease?

     Epilepsy is not a disease. It is a sign or symptom of an underlying
     neurological disorder.

Q: What is a seizure?

     The brain is a highly complex and sensitive organ. It controls and
     regulates all our actions. It controls motor movements, sensations,
     thoughts, and emotions. It is the seat of memory, and it regulates the
     involuntary inner workings of the body such as the function of the
     heart and the lungs.

     The brain cells work together, communicating by means of electric
     signals. Occasionally there is an abnormal electrical discharge from a
     group of cells, and the result is a seizure. The type of seizure will
     depend upon the part of the brain where the abnormal electrical
     discharge arises.

Q: What is an aura?

     Before the onset of a seizure some people experience a sensation or
     warning called an "aura". The aura may occur far enough in advance to
     give the person time to avoid possible injury. The type of aura
     experienced varies from person to person. Some people feel a change in
     body temperature, others experience a feeling of tension or anxiety. In
     some cases, the epileptic aura will be apparent to the person as a
     musical sound, a strange taste, or even a particular curious odour. If
     the person is able to give the physician a good description of this
     aura, it may provide a clue to the part of the brain where the initial
     discharges originate. An aura could occur without being followed by a
     seizure, and in some cases can by itself be called a type of simple
     partial seizure.

Q: When was Epilepsy discovered?

     Epilepsy is the oldest known brain disorder. It was mentioned more than
     2,000 years before Christ. References can be found in ancient Greek
     texts and in The Bible. It wasn't until the mid 1800's, however, that
     Epilepsy was given serious study. Sir Charles Locock was the first to
     introduce a sedative that aided in controlling seizures in 1857. In
     1870, John Hughlings Jackson identified the brain's outer layer, the
     cerebral cortex, as the part involved in Epilepsy. Hans Berger
     demonstrated that the electrical impulses of the human brain could be
     recorded in 1929.


Topic: People with Epilepsy

Q: What kind of people have Epilepsy?

     Virtually everyone can have a seizure under the right circumstances.
     Each of us has a brain seizure threshold which makes us more or less
     resistant to seizures. Seizures can have many causes, including brain
     injury, poisoning, head trauma, or stroke; and these factors are not
     restricted to any age group, sex, or race and neither is Epilepsy.

Q: How many people have Epilepsy?

     Epilepsy is far more common than most of us realize. Current estimates
     indicate that more than one per cent of the population have had, or
     will have, some form of Epilepsy in their lifetime.

Q: Does Epilepsy strike at any particular age?

     Epilepsy can strike anyone at any age. However, most persons who
     develop seizures during their formative years tend to experience a
     reduction in the intensity and frequency of their seizures as they grow
     older. In many cases the Epilepsy will disappear completely. 50% of all
     cases develop before 10 years of age.

Q: Does Epilepsy occur more in some cultures?

     Epilepsy occurs more frequently in some cultures. In Tanzania, 4% of
     the population experiences severe seizure disorders. In this case,
     genetic predisposition to lower seizure thresholds is known to exist.
     In Canada, 1-2% of the population has Epilepsy.


Topic: Types of Seizures

Q: Are there different types of seizures?

     Many varieties of epileptic seizures occur, and frequency and form of
     attacks vary greatly from person to person. With modern methods of
     treatment, however, most cases can be fully controlled. Because there
     are so many nuances in Epilepsy and so many different kinds of
     seizures, a specific classification system is being promoted by the
     International League Against Epilepsy. The International Classification
     of Epilepsy Seizures has been adopted by the medical community and is
     gradually replacing outdated seizure terminology including "grand mal"
     and "petit mal".

     The new classification scheme describes two major types of seizures:
     "partial" and "generalized". It also divides each of these categories
     into subcategories including simple partial, complex-partial, absence,
     tonic-clonic, and other types.

Q: What is the difference between partial and general seizures?

     The distinction between "partial" and "generalized" seizures is the
     most important feature of the new classifcation system. If the
     excessive electrical discharge in the brain is limited to one area, the
     seizure is partial. If the whole brain is involved, it is generalized.
     In all, there are over 30 different seizure types. Therefore, the new
     classification format subdivides the partial and generalized Epilepsies
     into a number of different categories.

Q: What are partial seizures?

     Partial seizures (formerly known as focal seizures) with elementary
     symptomology are often referred to a simple partial. During this type
     of seizure the patient can experience a range of strange or unusual
     sensations including sudden, jerky movements of one body part,
     distortions in hearing or seeing, stomach discomfort, or a sudden sense
     of fear. Consciousness is not impaired. If another seizure type
     follows, these sensations may be referred to as an "aura".

Q: What are complex partial seizures?

     Complex-partial seizures (formerly psychomotor or temporal lobe
     Epilepsy) are characterized by a complicated motor act involving
     impaired consciousness. During the seizure the patient appears dazed
     and confused. Purposeless behaviours such as random walking, mumbling,
     head turning, or pulling at clothing may be observed. Usually, these
     so-called "automatisms" cannot be recalled by the patient. In children
     this seizure may consist of staring or lip-smacking, and therefore may
     be confused with the absence seizure described below.

Q: What are absence (petit mal) seizures?

     Generalized absence seizures (formerly petit mal) are characterized by
     5 to 15 second lapses in consciousness. During this time the patient
     appears to be staring into space and the eyes may roll upwards.
     Absences are not preceded by an aura and activity can be resumed
     immediately afterwards. Typically, they occur in children and disappear
     by adolescence. They may, however, evolve into other seizure types,
     such as complex-partial or tonic-clonic. The occurrence of absences in
     adulthood are rare.

Q: What are tonic-clonic (grand mal) seizures?

     The tonic-clonic (formerly grand mal) seizure is a generalized
     convulsion involving two phases. In the tonic phase, the individual
     loses consciousness and falls, and the body becomes rigid. In the
     clonic period, the body extremities jerk and twitch. After the seizure,
     consciousness is regained slowly. If the tonic-clonic seizure begins
     locally (with a partial seizure) it may be preceded by an "aura". These
     seizures are said to be secondarily generalized.

     While the tonic-clonic seizure is the most visible, obvious type of
     Epilepsy, it is not the most common. Partial seizures are more
     frequently encountered and occur in 62% of all Epilepsy patients.
     Complex-partial seizures account for approximately 30% all cases.

Q: What are other types of seizures?

     Benign rolandic epilepsy is an epileptic syndrome occurring in young
     children that is age limited (you stop having seizures in the teen
     years) . Salivation, twitching of the mouth or upper extremity on one
     side are typical manifestations. Seizures occur almost exclusively

     Juvenile myoclonic epilepsy is an epilepsy characterized by onset in
     childhood or adolescence and is associated with extremity jerking or
     generalized tonic clonic seizures ('grand mal') within an hour or two
     of wakening from sleep. Seizures which may be precipitated by sleep
     deprivation, alcohol intake or coffee (strange) tend to occur in the

     Pleases contact your local Epilepsy association or clinic for
     additional information. Other seizure terms include: Atonic (Drop
     Attacks), Myclonic, Infantile Spasms, Nocturnal, Photosensitive,
     Visual, Musicogenic, Jacksonian, Sensory, Bilateral Myclonus,
     Atkinetic, Autonomic, Prolonged seizures, and Ictal State.

Q: What are "status" seizures?

     Status epilepticus is the term used to describe recurrent seizures
     without recovery of consciousness between attacks. This is a medical
     emergency and can be life threatening, or cause brain damage. Immediate
     action to get the necessary medical care should be taken.

Q: What are pseudoseizures?

     Psuedoseizures (or psychogenic seizures) are quite common and can occur
     in people who have, or do not have, Epilepsy. The attacks are triggered
     by a conscious or unconscious desire for more care and attention. The
     seizures start with rapid breathing, triggered by mental stress,
     anxiety, or pain. As the person breaths rapidly, they build up carbon
     dioxide in their body and change their chemistry. This can cause
     symptoms very much like Epileptic seizures: prickling in the face,
     hands, and feet, stiffening, trembling, etc. The appropriate treatment
     for pseudoseizures is to calm the person and start them breathing at a
     normal rate. Treatment should also involve investigating the mental and
     emotional factors that led to the psuedoseizure.

Q: How do you distinguish epileptic seizures from pseudoseizures?

     Epileptic seizures and pseudoseizures are distinguishable both by their
     nature and symptoms, but the diagnosis can be difficult. Epileptic
     seizures are caused by a change in how the brain cells send electrical
     signals to each other, while pseudoseizures are triggered by a
     conscious or unconscious desire for more care and attention. Thus,
     measuring brain activity with an EEG and video telmetry is important
     for distinguishing epileptic and pseudoseizures. Also, pseudoseizures
     often lack the exhaustion, confusion, and nausea that is associated
     with epileptic seizures. Psychogenic seizures can occur in people who
     also experience epileptic seizures.

Q: Can seizures occur if a person does not have Epilepsy?

     Epilepsy is a chronic condition of recurrent unprovoked seizures.
     Isolated seizures and provoked seizures (e.g., drug or alcohol induced)
     are not Epilepsy even though the events are real seizures. There are
     many types of non-epileptic seizures. Non-epileptic seizures differ
     from epileptic seizures in that there is usually no evidence of
     abnormal electrical activity in the brain after the seizure, and they
     do not occur repeatedly. Some of the more common causes of
     non-epileptic seizures are: low blood sugar, fainting, heart disease,
     stroke, migraine headaches, kinked blood vessels, narcolepsy,
     withdrawal, and extreme stress or anxiety.

Q: What are the seizures like?

     The nature of the seizures varies depending upon the type of Epilepsy
     the individual has. Some seizures may be very noticeable while some may
     go completely unrecognized. With the most common types of seizures
     there is some loss of consciousness, but some seizures may only involve
     small movements of the body or strange feelings. The different seizures
     types have certain characteristics that accompany them.

Q: What does it feel like to have a seizure?

     Epilepsy is a broad classification for a wide variety of seizures, so
     different people's seizures can be very different. Common feelings
     associated with seizures include uncertainty, fear, physical and mental
     exhaustion, confusion, and memory loss. Some types of seizures can
     produce visual and auditory phenomena, while others can involve a
     "blank" feeling. If a person is unconscious during a seizure there may
     be no feeling at all. Many people also experience an "aura" before the
     seizure itself.

Q: How long do the seizures last?

     Depending on the type of seizure, they can last anywhere from a few
     seconds to several minutes. In rare cases, seizures can last many
     hours. For example, a tonic-clonic seizure typically lasts 1-7 minutes.
     Absence seizures may only last a few seconds, while complex partial
     seizures range from 30 seconds to 2-3 minutes. "Status Epilepticus"
     refers to prolonged seizures that can last for many hours, and this can
     be a serious medical condition. In most cases, however, seizures are
     fairly short and little first aid is required.

Q: Is there such a thing as a "minor" case of Epilepsy?

     There are over 30 types of seizures, and some types are more severe
     than others. Long tonic-clonic convulsions, for example, can produce
     more physical and mental effects than shorter partial seizures. Some
     people may experience very frequent seizures (every few hours), while
     others can go for months or years without a seizure. Also, some
     seizures are easily controlled by drug therapies, while others may
     continue regardless of the medication that is tried.


Topic: Causes and Triggers

Q: What causes Epilepsy?

     There is no single cause of Epilepsy. Many factors can injure the nerve
     cells in the brain or the way the nerve cells communicate with each
     other. In approximately 65% of all cases there is NO known cause. The
     following are some of the most frequently identified causes:
        o Head injury that causes scaring of the brain tissue.
        o Trauma at birth, or high fever.
        o Excessively rough handling or shaking of infants.
        o Certain drugs or toxic substances when administered in large
        o Interruption of blood flow to the brain caused by stroke, tumour,
          or certain cardiovascular problems.
        o Diseases which alter the balance of blood or its chemical
          structure, or diseases that damage the nerve cells in the brain.
     When physicians can identify the underlying disorder, such as those
     mentioned above, the condition is referred to as "Symptomatic"
     Epilepsy. In some cases, however, the underlying disorder can't be
     identified and this is called "Idiopathic" Epilepsy.

Q: Is Epilepsy inherited?

     In most cases Epilepsy is not inherited. In a few cases the tendency
     towards Epilepsy might be inherited, but even with this tendency
     certain conditions must exist in the brain before a person will
     experience epileptic seizures. It is most unlikely that children will
     inherit the disorder.

Q: Is Epilepsy contagious?

     Epilepsy is in no way contagious. No one can get the disorder by
     talking to, kissing, or touching somebody with Epilepsy. Epilepsy can
     only be transmitted through hereditary transfer. Epilepsy that runs in
     families suggests an underlying metabolic or genetic etiology, and this
     is the least common of all Epilepsy causes.

Q: Is it caused by a virus?

     Epilepsy can be the result of an infection or disease. Some conditions
     known to have a risk of resulting in Epilepsy are meningitis, viral
     encephalitis, and less frequently mumps, measles, diphtheria, and

Q: Can certain things trigger seizures?

     In some cases, epileptic seizures can be triggered by things that
     happen in the environment. Seizures can be triggered by flashing lights
     or sudden changes from dark to light (or vice versa). Other people can
     react to loud noises or monotonous sounds, or even certain musical
     notes. It is important for people with Epilepsy to learn what kinds of
     events can trigger seizures for them.

Q: Can seizures be triggered by flashing lights?

     "Photosensitive Epilepsy" is the name given to a form of the disorder
     where seizures are triggered by flickering or flashing lights. Though
     it occurs more frequently in girls aged 6-12, it can occur at any age
     and regardless of gender.

Q: Can certain foods or drinks cause seizures?

     People with Epilepsy should have regular meals at regular intervals and
     pay attention to what they eat and drink. Prescription and
     non-prescription drugs, as well as food additives, may interact with
     anti-convulsant drugs. Alcohol can lower seizure thresholds.

Q: Can lack of sleep cause seizures?

     Excessive sleep deprivation can lower seizure thresholds and possibly
     result in a seizure. Lack of sleep is known to be an important
     precipitating factor in causing seizures. Other factors that can lower
     seizure thresholds are high fever, increased excitement, and changes in
     body chemistry. It is important for people with Epilepsy to learn what
     kinds of events can trigger seizures for them.

Q: Can low blood sugar trigger seizures?

     Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) can induce epileptic-type seizures. This
     condition can be caused by diet or by drugs such as insulin. This is
     not really Epilepsy since it is not recurrent seizures that are due to
     abnormal brain activity. Here the seizures are directly caused by the
     blood sugar levels.

Q: Can Nutrasweet (Aspartame) trigger seizures?

     In 1984, there were 3 reports about large amounts of Aspartame causing
     a lowering of the seizure threshold and therefore increasing seizure
     activity. The Centre for Disease Control in Atlanta did a review of
     this and were unable to find any cause or effect relationship at normal
     doses. More recently, Aspartame has been found to be unsuitable for
     some children with generalized absence Epilepsy. A Queen's University
     study looked at the brain-wave patterns in 10 children and the effects
     of the artificial sweetener "Nutrasweet". A 40% increase in abnormal
     brain-wave activity associated with absence seizures was found in this
     study. However, there was no effect on the actual number of seizures.
     Research on this topic is continuing.

Q: Does alcohol affect seizures?

     Alcohol can raise and then lower the seizure threshold, and thus
     increases the tendency to have a seizure. More important are
     interactions between alcohol and seizure medicines. Also, some drugs of
     abuse, especially cocaine and amphetamines, can cause seizures. Some
     prescription medications when taken in large doses can also bring on


Topic: First Aid for Seizures

Q: How can I help someone who is having a seizure?

     The appropriate behaviour for helping someone who has a seizure depends
     on the type of seizure it is. While a person experiencing a
     tonic-clonic seizure may require some first aid, in most cases there is
     little that can be done.

     Tonic-Clonic (Grand Mal)

     This type of seizure is often the most dramatic and frightening, but it
     is important to realize that a person undergoing an epileptic seizure
     is usually unconscious and feels no pain. The seizure usually lasts
     only a few minutes, and the person does not need medical care. These
     simple procedures should be followed:

       1. Keep calm. You cannot stop a seizure once it has started. Let the
          seizure run its course. Do not try to revive the person.
       2. Ease the person to the floor and loosen clothing.
       3. Try to remove any hard, sharp, or hot objects that might injure
          the person. It may be necessary to place a cushion or soft item
          under their head.
       4. Turn the person on his or her side, so that the saliva can flow
          from the mouth.
       5. Do NOT put anything in the person's mouth.
       6. After the seizure the person should be allowed to rest or to sleep
          if necessary.
       7. After resting most people carry on as before. If the person is not
          at home and still seems groggy, weak, or confused, it may be
          better to accompany them home.
       8. In the case of a child having a seizure, contact a parent or
       9. If the person undergoes a series of convulsions, with each
          successive one occurring before he or she has fully recovered
          consciousness, or a single seizure lasting longer than 10 minutes,
          you should immediately seek medical assistance.

     Absence (Petit Mal)

     No first aid is required.

     Complex-Partial (Psychomotor or Temporal Lobe)

       1. Do NOT restrain the person. Protect him or her by moving sharp or
          hot objects away.
       2. If wandering occurs, stay with the person and talk quietly.

     Simple-Partial (Focal)

     No first aid is required.

Q: What if my child has a seizure during his sleep?

     Children are usually awakened by seizures that occur while they sleep.
     Thus, a parent of a child with a known seizure disorder is usually
     aware when their child has seizures during the night. Only in those
     rare cases where a child vomits or experiences other problems during a
     seizure is there a need to worry.


Topic: Diagnosis

Q: How is Epilepsy diagnosed?

     The diagnosis and evaluation of Epilepsy requires the physician to know
     all about the seizures - when they started, the patient's appearance
     before, during, and after a seizure, and any unusual behavioural
     occurrences. A background of the family's health history is also
     useful. In addition, an electroencephalogram (EEG) may help detect
     areas of increased nerve cell activity.

Q: What types of doctors can diagnose and treat Epilepsy?

     Any licensed physician is qualified to treat Epilepsy. There are
     doctors who specialize in neurological disorders, and these
     neurologists can be found practicing in many hospitals and private
     practices. Epileptologists may work in an Epilepsy clinic, as well as
     in private practices. Usually a referral is required from another
     physician in order to see a Neurologists and Epileptologists. Some
     people also consult alternative health practitioners who specialize in
     holistic healing, acupuncture, or chiropractic treatments.

     Often, the first doctor to diagnose Epilepsy is the family doctor. Most
     of them have had some experience with it, and will be the one to refer
     a person with Epilepsy to a specialist initially. Pediatricians are
     also well aware of Epilepsy, since about two-thirds of all Epilepsy
     occurs before the age of 14. A neurologist has specialized training in
     the disorders of the brain and nervous system. A neurosurgeon,
     psychiatrist, or psychologist may also get involved if the
     circumstances require them.

Q: Can a person with Epilepsy have a false negative EEG?

     An EEG measures the electrical activity on the surface of the brain. An
     EEG may appear to be normal if the abnormal electrical activity is
     occurring deeper in the brain than the EEG is able to monitor.

Q: Can a person have a false positive EEG for Epilepsy.

     Many people who do not have Epilepsy may have some "epileptiform"
     activity on an EEG. However, this does not prove that they have a
     seizure disorder. Reading EEG's is a highly skilled activity, and a
     diagnosis of Epilepsy is based on the clinical picture as well as the
     EEG. Other tests, such as CT scans and MRI scans, may be performed to
     confirm any findings.

Q: Is my child having absence seizures or just day dreaming?

     A child having an absence seizure may appear to the onlooker as if they
     are day dreaming or just staring into space. What may be happening is a
     sudden period of altered consciousness. To be able to tell the
     difference, close observations might have to be done. Usual behavioral
     characteristics of a absence seizure may include: eye blinking, chewing
     of the mouth, and perhaps a slight rhythmic movement of the facial
     muscles, head, or arms. During the seizure the child may not respond to
     verbal or physical stimulation. Immediately after the seizure, the
     child is able to resume normal activity. If you observe unusual
     behaviour in your child, a visit to a neurologist should be arranged
     through your family doctor.

Q: What conditions are sometimes mis-diagnosed as Epilepsy?

     Seizures occurring as a result of alcohol withdrawal, fever, or
     hypoglycemia can be mistaken for Epilepsy. Other causes of seizures
     that do not indicate Epilepsy are strokes, migraine headaches,
     calcified blood vessels, narcolepsy, and psychogenic or pseudoseizures.

Q: Can seizures go un-noticed?

     The symptoms of seizures are not always noticeable for on-lookers or
     for the person who is experiencing the seizure. Seizure may result in
     rigidity in the body, convulsions, chewing of the mouth, unusual
     behaviors, or loss of consciousness. Some symptoms may be less
     apparent, such as disorientation or unusual sensations. Milder symptoms
     do not mean that the seizure is of less importance.


Topic: Treatments

Q: Is there a cure for Epilepsy?

     There is no known "cure" for Epilepsy. Medications can often control
     seizures, but they are not a cure. Some forms of Epilepsy occur only in
     childhood, and the person is said to have outgrown the seizures. In
     some cases there is a spontaneous remission of the seizure disorder.
     Sometimes, surgery to remove the part of the brain in which the
     seizures originate can produce a complete and permanent stop to

Q: Is it fatal?

     Epilepsy itself can cause death if prolonged repeated seizures ("status
     epilepticus") are not treated properly. Such deaths are very rare,
     however. More common is death due to hazards or accidents that occur
     when someone has a seizure unexpectedly in a potentially dangerous

Q: What kinds of treatments are available?

     When a physician diagnoses Epilepsy, a specific treatment can be
     recommended. The treatment prescribed by the physician is designed to
     control the seizures and help the patient to carry on a healthy life,
     participating in all normal activities, including most sports. The two
     major kinds of treatments are drug therapy and surgery.

Q: Are there drug treatments for Epilepsy?

     Treatment of Epilepsy is primarily through the use of special
     anti-convulsive drugs. There are many different types of these drugs,
     and the type prescribed will depend upon the particular needs of the
     individual. The drugs are prescribed either alone or in a combination.
     The various drugs or combination of drugs control different types of

Q: How do drugs work to control seizures?

     The drugs used to control seizures are called anticonvulsants. How they
     stop the seizures, change the seizure threshold, or prevent electrical
     discharges from occurring is not fully known. The neurochemical basis
     for their action is also unknown. Research has shown that some of the
     drugs can block the spread of abnormally fast nerve impulses in the
     brain, while others can increase the flow of chloride ions, which
     stabilize the nerve cells. Research is still being done in this area.

Q: What drugs are used to treat Epilepsy?

     There are many different drugs used to treat Epilepsy. Some of the more
     common ones are: Tegretol (carbamazepine), Dilantin (phenytoin),
     Mysoline (primidone), Epival (valproate), Frisium (clobazam), Rivotril
     (clonazepam), Mogadon (nitrazepam), Phenobarbitol, Depakene (valproic
     acid), Zarontin (ethosuximide), Neurontin (gabapentin), Lamictal
     (lamotrigine), Sabril (vigabatrin). There are also many new drugs under

     The choice of drug is determined by the type of seizure, the side
     effects of the drugs, and the age and health of the person. Often a
     number of drugs, and combinations of drugs, have to be tried until the
     seizures are brought under control.

Q: How effective are the drug treatments?

     Most epileptic seizures are controlled by special anti-convulsive drugs
     prescribed by a physician. About 50 per cent of those who take this
     medication will have their seizures eliminated; 30 per cent will have
     their seizures reduced in intensity and frequency to the point where
     they can live and work normally. The remaining 20 per cent are either
     resistant to the medication, or else they require such large dosages of
     the drug to control the seizures that it is preferable to accept
     partial control.

Q: Do these drugs have side effects?

     Many medications for Epilepsy have side effects. These can range from
     mild to severe, and will differ depending on the drug and dosage. Some
     of the more common side effects of anti-epileptic drugs are:
     drowsiness, dizziness, nausea, irritability, and hyperactivity.

Q: What is a "blood level"?

     "Blood level" refers to the amount of anticonvulsant in the blood. It
     is measured with a simple blood test and is used to help determine if a
     patient's symptoms may be due to toxicity or to side effects of
     medication. It is also used to determine if the patient is taking
     enough medication to prevent seizures. The therapeutic range for
     different anti-convulsants has been determined by testing blood levels
     in thousands of patients whose seizures are controlled and who are not
     experiencing toxic effects.

Q: What are the symptoms of too high a drug level?

     Too high of a drug level may cause a person to experience side effects
     such as drowsiness, confusion, breakthrough seizures, unsteadiness, and
     nausea. This may require a reduction in dosage or a change to a
     different medication.

Q: How much do the drugs cost?

     The cost of the anticonvulsant drugs will depend on the dosage levels
     needed, the drug being used, and the amount in each prescription. There
     is usually a difference in price between a drug's brand name and its
     generic equivalent. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if a generic one is
     available for you to use, and if it is appropriate.

Q: Is it necessary for all people with Epilepsy to be on medication?

     Treatment of Epilepsy is primarily through the use of anticonvulsive
     drugs. There are many different types of drugs and the type prescribed
     will depend upon the particular seizure pattern of the individual. If
     someone has been seizure free for several years, the doctor may decide
     to slowly withdraw the medication.

Q: When is surgery used to treat Epilepsy?

     Surgery is used only when medication fails and only in a small
     percentage of cases where the injured brain tissue causing the seizures
     is confined to one area of the brain and can be safely removed without
     damaging personality or functions.

Q: What is the likelihood that my child will outgrow a seizure disorder?

     The likelihood of a child outgrowing a seizure disorder is difficult to
     answer. Sometimes children do outgrow Epilepsy, while for others the
     seizures may stay the same or intensify with age. Some people
     experience the same type of seizures throughout their lifetime. Some
     epilepsies are known to almost always remit (for example, Benign
     Rolandic Epilepsy or Epilepsy with centrotemporal spikes and rolandic
     seizures), some are known to usually remit (e.g., childhood absence)
     and some are known to almost never remit (e.g., Juvenile Myoclonic
     epilepsy). The medical community cannot predict who will continue to
     have seizures and who will not, but they feel that the sooner Epilepsy
     is diagnosed, the better it can be controlled.

Q: Do non-traditional approaches help?

     Some people with Epilepsy have tried many different approaches to
     improve their seizure control. In some cases, the person feels that
     they have experienced improvement. However, scientific studies have not
     been conducted into most non-traditional approaches. Techniques known
     to reduce stress or improve overall health may be helpful to some
     people. Other techniques that have been tried are biofeedback, diets,
     acupuncture, and meditation.

Q: Does transcendental meditation have any effect on Epilepsy?

     The medical community has not determined if things such as
     transcendental meditation have any real effect on Epilepsy. It has been
     shown that when people know what is happening at a given moment, some
     can influence the automatic processes of the body. With biofeedback,
     some people can moderate and possibly change certain functions thought
     to be involuntary, such as the rhythm of their brain waves, blood
     pressure, heart rate, etc. The significance of this for Epilepsy is not

Q: Does biofeedback help?

     Biofeedback is the process of moderating, limiting or changing certain
     physiological functions previously thought to be involuntary, such as
     heart rate, blood pressure, brain waves, etc. For Epilepsy, a person
     could be given extensive biofeedback training and taught behavioural
     modification techniques through which he/she control certain
     physiological functions related to seizures. Biofeedback training can
     also be taught as a method of stress reduction. This in itself can
     reduce the frequency of seizures in some persons with stress related
     seizures. Further study is needed to ascertain the value of biofeedback
     in the treatment of Epilepsy. Non-medical approaches may improve
     seizure control in some persons, but should not be undertaken without
     the knowledge of the physician prescribing the anti-convulsants. Under
     no circumstances should anti-convulsants be stopped suddenly as this
     may precipitate prolonged and life-threatening seizures.

Q: Is there a special diet for people with Epilepsy?

     Good nutritional habits and a healthy life style may assist in the
     maintenance of optimum seizure control. Experiencing a drastic weight
     change may mean that either a chemical or metabolic imbalance is
     occurring, and you should consult your physician. Though some
     anti-convulsants may cause nutrient deficiencies in some people, a well
     balanced diet will usually prevent this. Also see KETOGENIC DIET

Q: What is a ketogenic diet?

     A ketogenic diet is very rich in lipids (fats) and oils, but low in
     proteins and carbohydrates. This unusually high intake of lipids and
     oils creates a condition in the body know as "ketosis". The metabolic
     shift that is created increases the seizure threshold for some. This
     diet is also calory and liquid restricted. The Ketogenic diet is mainly
     effective in children. It requires careful preparation and strict
     adherence. Although it takes a significant commitment to be successful,
     many children have greater seizure control with this diet than with
     conventional (drug) therapys. Some are able to reduce or eliminate
     antiseizure medications. Careful medical supervision is essential when
     using this as a therapy.


Topic: Living with Epilepsy

Q: Can people living with Epilepsy lead normal lives?

     Experience has shown that people with Epilepsy have fewer seizures if
     they lead normal active lives. This means they should be encouraged to
     find jobs, either full or part-time. People with any disabilities are
     now protected under amendments to the Human Rights Code (Canada).
     However, some jobs, because of the nature of technical equipment or
     machinery, may not be recommended for a person with Epilepsy. It is
     therefore most important for a young adult to work with the school
     guidance department to establish appropriate career goals.

Q: What can people with Epilepsy do to help their health?

     Like any medical condition, Epilepsy is affected by the general health
     and well-being of the person affected. So, anything that can be done to
     improve the state of the person can have a positive effect on Epilepsy.
     This includes diet, exercise, rest, reducing stress, avoiding
     depression, and staying away from alcohol and illegal drugs.

Q: Who should know that I have Epilepsy?

     Openness and honesty about Epilepsy is important. A child's teacher
     should be informed about the type of seizure, what they look like,
     their frequency, and any first aid requirements. There are advantages
     and disadvantages to telling an employer. What you tell them may depend
     upon how comfortable you are discussing your Epilepsy, the kinds of
     seizures involved, and the type of job. An employer may ask if you have
     a medical problem that would make you unable to do your job, but they
     may not ask generally about your medication condition.

Q: Is there prejudice against people with Epilepsy?

     While much progress has been made in reducing societal prejudice
     against Epilepsy, discrimination or rejection may also be a problem for
     the person with the seizures. In addition, family and friends may be
     overprotective or impose unnecessary restrictions. In the end, the
     person with seizures may lose confidence or feel "like a second class

Q: Are there any problems having children?

     Women who use seizure-controlling drugs must be careful when it comes
     to having children. There have been reported cases of birth defects for
     these women. While the "normal" rate of birth defects is 2-3% , women
     with epilepsy who are not taking medication have a slightly higher
     (1/2%) risk of malformations. Women on a single medication have a risk
     of about 6-7%, with some differences due to the particular medication
     involved. Multiple drug combinations drastically increase the risk.

     This creates a problem because the drugs may create risks for the baby,
     but the need for anti-seizure drugs remains during pregnancy. Seizures
     may even be more frequent during pregnancy, and harm both the baby and
     the mother.

     A doctor may decide to change or reduce a woman's medication if she
     plans to become pregnant. In some cases, however, the doctor may
     recommend that the risks of pregnancy are too great for the mother and
     child. Any changes in medication must be considered carefully, and a
     woman should never adjust her own medication.

     There are some special issues relating to maternal health during
     pregnancy for women with Epilepsy, and this may require special

     Finally, some seizure medications can lead to failures of oral birth
     control pills.

Q: Can medications for controlling Epilepsy harm a nursing baby?

     Always check with your physician if you are on anticonvulsants and
     planning to breast feed. Although anticonvulsant medication has been
     measured in the breast milk of mothers with Epilepsy, the amount is
     usually too low to harm the child.

Q: Can people living with Epilepsy drive a car?

     In Ontario, the situation is that anyone with a history of Epilepsy may
     drive a motor vehicle, provided the person's physician certifies that
     he or she has been free from seizures for a minimum period of a year.
     Each case is reviewed by a medical advisory committee.

     The situation may be different in your location. Ask your physician
     about it, or contact a driver examination centre.

Q: Can people living with Epilepsy go swimming?

     It is advised that before a person with Epilepsy goes swimming, they
     should consult their doctor. When a person with Epilepsy does go
     swimming, they should not do it alone (common water-safety advice for
     everyone). It is also recommended that swimming be done in a supervised
     pool rather than beaches, lakes, or rivers.

Q: Can Epilepsy lead to problems at school?

     Longstanding seizure disorders may be associated with seizure-induced
     brain damage and memory problems. Also, children with Epilepsy may
     experience learning or concentration problems because of the
     neurological disorder or the medications.

     If a child who has Epilepsy is having problems at school, either
     academically or socially, the teacher and the principal should be asked
     to help. If you would like your child to be tested by the school
     psychologist, arrange it through the principal. If your child is having
     academic problems, ask to see the Special Education Consultant for the
     area. In consultation with the child's teacher, a modified program can
     be arranged if necessary. Children with Epilepsy should be allowed to
     take part in all regular school activities, including sports.

Q: Can Epilepsy cause emotional problems?

     People with Epilepsy may develop depression for both biological and
     social reasons. Some longstanding poorly controlled seizure disorders
     may be associated with chronic personality changes. Also, or short
     durations following temporal lobe seizures some patients may have
     emotional "swings" or other thinking difficulties.

     While Epilepsy is a medical problem, the person with the seizures must
     also make a number of emotional adjustments. The first challenge is
     acceptance of the diagnosis. Initially people with Epilepsy and their
     families may experience shock or denial. Anger, fear, and depression
     are also common. However, with information and support, people with
     Epilepsy can understand the condition and develop positive coping

Q: Can Epilepsy lead to problems with self-esteem?

     It is important to remember that people with Epilepsy can, and do, live
     full, productive lives. If self-esteem becomes a problem, open
     discussion with supportive friends, family, or a professional
     counsellor can help you develop new ways of coping and a new sense of


Topic: Working With Epilepsy

Q: What occupations are not appropriate for people with Epilepsy?

     Given that they are trained with appropriate sets of skills and/or
     education, the vast majority of people with Epilepsy are capable of
     performing any job. Some exceptions to the rule are: occupations in the
     military, commercial airlines, and fire brigade as the lives of others
     may be endangered should a seizure occur. Consideration should be give
     to the type of seizures and how well they are controlled by medication.

Q: Can people with Epilepsy fly a plane?

     Persons with Epilepsy may not be able to fly a plane. There are strict
     standards that must be met by anyone wanting to get their pilot's
     license. Each person is individually assessed and must meet a regime of
     standards set up by the Civil Aviation Medical Centre.

Q: Is there a problem with job safety?

     Employers hiring someone with Epilepsy are often concerned that job
     safety will be compromised in the event of an injury caused by a
     seizure in the workplace. One study revealed that the accident rate of
     workers with Epilepsy was lower than those employees without
     disabilities. Liability is not a factor as long as the employee has
     been placed in an appropriate job and reasonable accommodation is
     provided as necessary.

Q: Can an employer ask about Epilepsy on a job application?

     Under the Ontario Human Rights Code (Chapter 53, Section 22(2)), it is
     illegal for an employer to ask about medical problems on the
     application form. A person with Epilepsy (or any other health problem)
     is not required to respond to any medical related question. A copy of
     the Ontario Human Rights Code and A Guild to the Ontario Human Rights
     Code is available by calling Access Ontario at (613) 238-3630.

Q: Can an employer ask about Epilepsy during a job interview?

     In the Ontario Human Rights Codes (Chapter 53, Section 22(3)), nothing
     precludes the interviewer from asking questions about your health
     status, however it MUST relate to your ability to perform the essential
     duties of the job. They may ask "Do you have any medical problems that
     would make you unable to do the job?", but they MAY NOT ask "Do you
     have any medical problems?" A copy of the Ontario Human Rights Code and
     A Guild to the Ontario Human Rights Code is available by calling Access
     Ontario at (613) 238-3630

Q: Can I be fired because I have Epilepsy?

     The Ontario Human Rights Code does not permit employers to fire an
     employee because they had a seizure at work, or have Epilepsy. Before a
     person is dismissed, the employer must show that "reasonable
     accommodation" (Chapter 53, Section 23(2)) has been made to help the
     person keep their job. Accommodations are determined by doing a
     physical demands analysis, which is a breakdown of the exact physical
     requirements necessary to perform the job. Access Ontario, at (613)
     232-0489, will be able to provide you with more Ontario Human Rights

Q: Can people with Epilepsy get social assistance?

     A person who has Epilepsy may qualify for assistance to prepare for and
     to obtain employment under the Ontario Ministry of Community and Social
     Services' Vocational Rehabilitation Services Program. Assistance may
     take the form of vocational assessment, counselling, academic, or
     technical training or job placement. Application should be made to the
     nearest office of the Ontario Ministry of Community and Social
     Services, listed in the blue pages in the telephone directory.

     A person who is severely disabled by seizures, and unable to compete in
     the work force, may apply for assistance under Ontario's Benefits
     Program, often called GAINS-D. Application should be made to the
     nearest office of the Ontario Ministry of Community and Social
     Services, listed in the Government of Ontario section of the blue pages
     on the telephone directory.

     Two other kinds of financial assistance are available in Ontario,
     depending on a person's income: General Assistance, usually referred to
     as welfare, is available for anyone in urgent need of financial aid.
     Special Assistance is for a person who is employed, but has
     extraordinary needs such as a high prescription drug costs. Application
     for each of these assistance programs should be made through the
     municipal social service department.


Topic: Epilepsy and Other Disorders

Q: Is Epilepsy related to other neurological problems?

     Epilepsy is not necessarily associated with other neurological problems
     or learning disabilities. Occasionally, the source of the seizures may
     be reflected in other neurological deficits. Also, medication for
     seizures may cause sedations and thus decrease the rate of learning.
     People with Epilepsy have the same range of intelligence as the general

Q: Is Epilepsy related to mental illness?

     Epilepsy is not related to mental illness. Because of the involvement
     of the brain, Epilepsy has been mistakenly associated with psychiatric
     disorders. Epilepsy differs from psychiatric disorders in that seizures
     last for very brief periods and begin and end abruptly. Further, when
     not having seizures, people with Epilepsy need not have any changes in
     their mood or behaviour.

Q: Can Epilepsy affect intelligence?

     Seizures can affect intelligence, so prompt diagnosis and rapid control
     of seizures is important. There is also a risk if seizures are
     prolonged and there is a significant reduction in oxygen in the brain
     during seizures. However, these are extremely rare occurrences. In the
     case of developmentally delayed persons with Epilepsy, it is most
     likely that the cause of the developmental delay is also the cause of
     the seizures. In most cases, people with Epilepsy have normal

Q: Is there a link between memory loss and Epilepsy?

     Some people with Epilepsy do experience a difficulty in recalling
     distant and recent events. Often, this is caused by the medications
     used to treat Epilepsy, or by regular seizure activity. People affected
     in this way can learn to compensate by using lists and reminders, and
     by creating an organized environment.

Q: Is Epilepsy related to asthma?

     Asthma occurs in children with Epilepsy at about the same frequency as
     it occurs in the general population. Likewise, the reverse is also
     true. The drug theophylline can trigger seizures.

Q: Are there any diseases that persons with Epilepsy more prone to?

     People with Epilepsy who are on medications may experience side effects
     that makes them more susceptible to other diseases and disorders. One
     common condition is Hyperplaxia, an over-growth of the gums caused by
     the drug Dilantin. Other common problems are liver dysfunction and


Topic: Miscellaneous

Q: Do animals get Epilepsy?

     Epilepsy can occur in animals. Like humans, Epilepsy in animals is
     really just abnormal electrical activity in the brain.

Q: Can dogs sense a seizure in humans before it strikes?

     It is possible that some dogs are able to detect pre-seizure changes in
     the physiology of some people with Epilepsy before the person becomes
     aware of them. In many cases, the person with Epilepsy is aware of an
     aura before the onset of the main part of the seizure.

     Not enough is known about how dogs can detect seizures before their
     onset to know exactly what sense(s) are involved in this detection.
     However, one might hypothesize that since dogs can detect chemical
     changes due to fear, seizures that are preceded by a sense of fear
     might also produce detectable changes.


Topic: More Information

Q: Where can I get more information about Epilepsy?

     There are a number of information sources about Epilepsy. Here is a
     partial list, and I welcome suggestions for other things to be added

        o Epilepsy (Ontario) Ottawa-Carleton
          B3-180 Metcalfe St.
          Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
          K2P 1P5
          (613) 594-9255

        o Epilepsy Ontario
          1 Promenade Circle, Suite 308
          Thornhill, ON
          M4J 4P8
          Telephone: (416) 229-2291 or (905) 764-5099 or (800) 463-1119
          E-Mail: epilepsy at epilepsy.org
          WWW: http://www.epilepsy.org

        o Epilepsy Canada
          1470 Peel St., Suite 745
          Montreal, Quebec, Canada
          H3A 1T1
          (514) 845-7866
          WWW: http://www.generation.net/~epilepsy

        o Epilepsy Foundation of America (EFA)
          8000 Corporate Drive, Suite 120
          Landover, MD 20785
          1-800-225-6872 or 1-800-EFA-1000
          E-mail: ntsa at aol.com
          WWW: http://www.efa.org/

        o National Institute of Health

        o Additional information on the Ketogenic diet can be obtained from:
          The Johns Hopkins Pediatric Epilepsy Center, (410)955-9100 or The
          Charlie Foundation to Help Cure Pediatric Epilepsy, (800)FOR-KETO.

        o A support group for patients with Rasmussen's encephalitis, a form
          of Epilepsy characterized by intractable seizures, eventual
          hemiplegia and dementia, is being started. Interested people
          should contact:

               Joan MacKeigan <macmarwa at cam.org>
               380 Raymond St.
               Saint Bruno, QC
               J3V 2S7

        o In many areas there are local associations that may be valuable to

Q: What books are available on Epilepsy?

        o EPILEPSY AND THE FAMILY by Richard Lechtenberg. Harvard Univ.
          Press, 79 Garden Ave, Cambridge, MA 02138-1311

        o LIVING WELL WITH EPILEPSY by Robert J. Gumnit, Demos Publications,
          1990, 156 Fiftth Ave, NY, NY 10010

        o EPILEPSY AND YOU, by Frank O. Volle and Patricia A. Heron

        o DOES YOUR CHILD HAVE EPILEPSY? by J.E. Jan, R.G. Ziegler, G. Erba,
          Austin PRO-ED Press, 5341 Industrial Oacks Blvd, Austin, TX 78735

          Woodbine House, 5615 Fishers Lane, Rockville, MD 20852

          Center, Inc 4826 Chicago Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55417

        o THE EPISODE, by Richard Pollak * This one is listed as fiction

          Schneider and Peter Conrad, Temple Univ Press, Broad and Oxford
          Streets, Philadelphia, PA

          and Bruce Hermann, Oxford University Press, 16-00 Pollitt Drive,
          Fair Lawn, NJ 07419-2799

          Freeman, EileenVining and Diana Pillas, The John Hopkins
          University Press, 701 West 40th St, Balitimore, MD 21211

          F.A. Davis Company, 1915 Arch Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103

        o BRAINSTORMS: EPILEPSY IN OUR WORDS, by Steven Schachter, Raven
          Press 1185 Avenue of the Americans, NY, NY 10036

          Schachter, Raven Press, 1185 Avenue of the Americas, NY, NY 10036

          (Demos Press, 1994) by John Freeman, Millicent Kelly, and Jennifer

        o CHALLENGE OF EPILEPSY by Sally Fletcher (Aura Publishing
          Company/20 Sunnyside Ave., #A150/Mill Valley, CA 94941)

Q: Where can I find information on the Internet about Epilepsy?

        o There are two Epilepsy-related mailing lists: "Epilepsy-List" is
          intended for general discussions about Epilepsy and seizure
          disorders. Most traffic is from people living with Epilepsy or
          their friends and family. The companion list, "Epilepsy-PRO" is
          intended for discussions about Epilepsy and seizure disorders by
          professionals working in this field. To find out about these
          lists, send mail to listserv at calvin.dgbt.doc.ca and include the
          command lines "info epilepsy-list" and/or "info epilepsy-pro".

        o There is an Epilepsy Home Page on the web that has several links,
          including one for the Ketogenic Diet. The URL is
          http://www.swcp.com/~djf/epilepsy/index.html. The Ketogenic Diet
          link shows the URL

        o Mass General Hospital and Harvard sponsor a neuro forum where
          people can ask questions about seizure disorders, meds, etc. The
          address is http://dem0nmac.mgh.harvard.edu/neurowebforum and you
          may try http://dem0nmac.mgh.harvard.edu/epilepsy/epihome.html.
          [Note: that is a "zero" in the hostname: dem0nmac. -- ASP]

        o Another source of information is

        o The Charles A. Dana foundation, which has opened a website at
          http://www.dana.org/, supports brain research and school reform by
          means of grants and public education initiatives.

        o There's a fairly extensive description of Depakote at
          http://www.fairlite.com/ocd/medications/depakote.shtml and this
          may be a good reference for information on many medications:

          Another reference for drug information is also available:
          http://pharminfo.com/drugdb/db_mnu.html .

        o Canine Epilepsy:

        o The Epilepsy Society of Northwest Florida has a home page:

        o The Epilepsy Association of Metro Toronto also has a home page:

        o Your Child and Neurosurgery contains several chapters on the
          surgical treatment of children with medically refractory epilepsy:

        o Other sites people have mentioned:
             + Epilepsy Support/Education Organizations:
             + MGH Epilepsy Surgery:
             + Assorted Medical Links:
             + SURGERY FOR EPILEPSY:
             + http://ccfadm.eeg.ccf.org/~tom/ cv.out
             + AECOM/MMC Epilepsy Home Page:
             + Neurosciences Internet Resource Guide:
             + Department of Neurological Surgery: http://www.neus.ccf.org/
             + MCG-Neurology: http://www.neuro.mcg.edu/
             + University Medical Center:
             + Tammi's Epilepsy Page:
             + JHMI-InfoNet: Patient Advocacy Groups:
             + Neurology/Neuroscience:
             + Yale Section of Neurosurgery:
             + UNM Neurosurgery Associates:
             + Basic Sciences: http://lnbd.uicomp.uic.edu/homepage/bs.htm
             + PSI PET Program: http://pss023.psi.ch/
             + About the CVRC: http://ceres.med.upenn.edu/www/cvrc.html
             + http://www.med.stanford.edu/touchstone/listserv.html
             + ftp://ftp.win-uk.net/pub/users/copernic/medical.resources
             + http://www.ibmpcug.co.uk/~copernic/meda.htm
             + Neuropsychology Central:
             + EpiNet: http://www.epinet.org.au/

           Andrew Patrick, Ph.D. <andrew at calvin.dgbt.doc.ca>

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