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What is Epilepsy?

Epilepsy causes a recurrent, sudden rush of electrical activity in the brain – seizures. This condition affects 65 million people worldwide and educating the population is important to remove stigmas surrounding those with Epilepsy.

What Causes Epilepsy?

Epilepsy can be developed at any age, young or old. The condition can potentially be inherited although this is very slim. In fact, the chances of developing Epilepsy before the age of 20 are only 1% and if one of your parents has Epilepsy then this risk is just slightly elevated to a 2% chance. More often, Epilepsy is brought on by traumatic events that have led to some sort of damage to the brain such as:

  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Stroke
  • Brain tumor or cyst
  • Maternal drug use
  • Lack of oxygen at birth

Symptoms of Epilepsy and Epileptic Seizures

There are two main categories of seizures; generalized and focal. A generalized seizure affects the whole brain, while a focal seizure affects one certain part. Seizures come in different levels with a variety of physical and cognitive symptoms.

Generalized seizures:

Absence seizures – blank stare, repetitive movements, and short loss of awareness

Tonic seizures – muscle stiffness

Atonic seizures – loss of muscle control

Clonic seizures – sudden muscle movements of the face, neck, and arms

Myoclonic seizures – random, fast twitching of the arms and legs

Tonic-clonic seizures – stiffness of the body, shaking, loss of bladder or bowel control, and unconsciousness

Focal seizures:

Simple partial seizures – alteration of senses, dizziness, and twitching of limbs

Complex partial seizures – unconsciousness, unresponsive, and staring blankly

What Can Trigger a Seizure?

Everyone is different, and different stimuli may trigger seizures for various individuals. A way to figure out what triggers you is to keep a journal and document everything thing about what you were doing at the time of a seizure and the happenings leading up to the event. Some common reported triggers are:

  • Fever
  • Bright or flashing lights
  • Caffeine
  • Alcohol
  • Drugs
  • Skipping meals or overeating

How Epilepsy is Treated

Unfortunately there is no cure for Epilepsy yet, but with the right medication and treatment it can be managed. Medications, neuro-stimulation implants, and even dieting can be effective for treating this condition.

If you suffer from Epilepsy come visit our neurologist, Dr. Myers, as she specializes in seizure disorders and will get you the treatment you need!

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Botox Migraine Treatment

What type of headaches does Botox treat?

Botox is used to treat chronic migraines. This means to be an eligible patient for this treatment option, you must experience headaches for at least 15 days out of the month.

As opposed to methods used to treat headaches after onset, Botox prevents headaches from occurring. Botox has been found to reduce headaches by an average of 8 or 9 instances a month.

What to expect with Botox injections:

The injections will be done here in the doctor’s office. It consists of Botox being injected into 7 key areas of the forehead and neck every three months. Like other treatment options it takes time to notice the relief from the Botox, greater relief will be received if the injections are kept up and received every 3 months.

How does Botox help headaches?

Botox injections deliver compounds that prevent contraction of a muscle. By blocking the nerve receptors from reaching these muscles, the muscles are forced to relax and ultimately ease pain and tension.

 

To learn more about Botox for Migraine or read other frequently asked questions, visit https://www.botoxchronicmigraine.com/botox-faq/

Q&A with Dr. Myers

As I’m sure you have heard by now, we love our new neurologist, Dr. Myers! Since she just relocated to the Charleston area and joined our practice in January we thought a Q&A was the perfect way for everyone to get to know her better.

Q: Dr. Myers, tell us a little about yourself informally.

A: Well, I am originally from Alabama but I moved to Charleston for the first time about ten years ago with my husband. We spent the last few years in Florida and missed the Charleston area so much that we had to come back, this time with a new addition to the family. My husband, son, and I love to spend time at the beach (collecting shark teeth!) and take weekend trips whenever possible. With the beach nearby and mountains not too far away in the upstate, Charleston is the perfect location for these things!

Q: What is your background in the medical field?

A: I went to medical school at The University of South Alabama in Mobile. I then attended the Medical University of South Carolina for my residencies in Internal Medicine and Neurology. During my time at MUSC, I also completed a Neurophysiology Fellowship and met Dr. Stickler who eventually led me to Neurology Specialists of Charleston!

Q: What made you want to go into Neurology specifically?

A: I initially became interested in neurology while in high school and college as I watched my grandfather suffer from dementia and Parkinson’s disease. It was really hard on my whole family (especially my mother,) and I started thinking I would like to be involved in the treatment of these different neurological conditions. A large number of neurological conditions are incurable but there is a lot that can be done to improve patient’s (and their families’) quality of life.  I started to think that I wanted to be involved in that.

I remember the exact moment that I decided for sure to go into neurology. I was a 3rd year medical student doing a pediatric rotation, and was in the ICU with my attending physician. We happened to walk past the bed of a 2 year old and I noticed that the baby appeared to be convulsing. The child was having an epileptic seizure and this made such an impression on me because it was absolutely horrible to watch. The seizure only lasted 2 minutes or so but it felt like a lifetime. I decided that day to pursue the neurological field and ended up getting very involved with Epilepsy diagnosis and treatment during my fellowship.

Q: What would you say are the most common conditions you treat? What is the rarest condition you have experience with?

A: The most common conditions I treat are headache syndromes, seizure disorders, and Dementia. Some of the more rare conditions I’ve treated are Huntington’s Disease, Opsoclonus-Myoclonus Syndrome, and Transverse Myelitis.

Q: To wrap things up, what is your favorite thing about your job and your patients?

A: I love my job because I truly believe I am making a difference in people’s lives. It is the best feeling in the world to know that interventions and therapies that I have put in place for patients make a huge difference in their day to day lives.

 

Thank you for your time Dr. Myers, we are so happy to have you!

EEG for Head Injuries and Concussions

In our last post we explored the uses of EEG in assessing seizure activity, however, another common use of EEG testing is for concussions and other brain injuries. Our neurologists at Neurology of Charleston are experienced with treating these conditions as well as headaches, migraines, dizziness, or memory loss that may come as side effects with the injury. For these patients, MRI and EEG will often be one of the first methods used to gain additional information on the state of the injury.

After a person experiences some sort of head trauma, it is important to specifically locate the area of damage and track this impact throughout the healing process. The EEG test is able to evaluate damage to various areas of brain processing through 25-30 electrodes that are placed and categorized by region of the brain. Depending on the region that has sustained damage and the functioning that region controls, patient symptoms and implications can differ. That being said, EEG is not generally used to diagnose a condition on its own, but rather as a follow-up method for additional detail on the effects of an injury.

After a head injury, it can be critical to analyze the situation quickly. While many providers offering EEG have month-long wait lists for this procedure, Neurology of Charleston prides ourselves on providing rapid appointment availability. Taking advantage of the information provided by EEG can make the healing process more productive by getting straight to the point of distress for a particular patient’s injury. This contributes to the better understanding of a condition and improved recommendations for treatment.

 

EEG for Epilepsy and Other Seizure Disorders

In our last blog post, we went over what an EEG test is and why a patient might opt for this treatment. As we mentioned, one of the greatest uses for EEG is epilepsy and seizures. Since seizures stem from abnormal nerve cell activity in the brain, using EEG to track these patterns can give very valuable insight into causes and controls over the condition.

With the addition of our newest provider, Dr. Patricia Myers, we have gained an invaluable asset in treatment methods in this area. Dr. Myers completed her neurology degree with a special interest in epilepsy. This expertise was further refined during a fellowship she completed in neurophysiology, including EEG. By analyzing EEG results, Dr. Myers can determine whether epilepsy is the likely cause of seizures or what possible factors contribute to episodes.

The results of an EEG essentially monitor the attempted communications between brain cells called neurones. These interactions of impulses between the neurones are used to control and support bodily function. Although it is impossible to track activity of individual neurones because of how small both they and the charge they give off is, EEG makes it possible to track brain function across various areas of the brain. However, there is no typical reading produced by all seizures during an EEG as they just show up as disruption from normal brain activity. Similarly, the types of activity that alarming in children varies from that which is considered abnormal in adults. For this reason the experience of a seizure during the test can provide valuable data for diagnosis and therefore some tests are run for up to 72 hours with a portable device.

EEGs are an important tool for working to treat epilepsy and seizures. By understanding a patient’s individual condition and areas of concern, productive control parameters can be better put in place. We are lucky to have Dr. Myers on our team treating both adolescents and adults in this area.