of all, it is important to remember that therapies such as Aromatherapy
are probably best viewed as complementary therapies for epilepsy. In
other words they are not an alternative to medications, but can be used
to complement medical treatments such as anticonvulsants. Because many
people with epilepsy find that stress, anxiety, anger or excitement
triggers their seizures; aromatherapy is often used to produce a state
of relaxation, which might help to ward off a seizure. Therefore calming
oils such as Ylang Ylang, Camomile and Lavender have been found helpful
by some people. But like anything with epilepsy, it is different for
different people and some people have found they need a more arousing
oil, such as lemon grass.
Some people use the oils to relax at
the end of a hard day, by burning in an oil burner, while others have
massages with particular oils. Often this is done to create a smell
memory, in other words to associate a particular aroma with relaxation
to create a calm state and therefore prevent seizures.
With any complementary or
alternative therapies, it is important to consult your doctor as it is
not always true that natural can do no harm. Aromatherapy oils are
extremely powerful, and people with epilepsy should avoid certain oils
as they may trigger more seizure activity. These include hyssop,
rosemary, sweet fennel and sage, which are thought to stimulate the
brain. Rosemary, for example, contains camphor, a known convulsant drug.
Marshall, F. (1998). Epilepsy -
The Natural Way Series. Dorset: Element Books Ltd.
Blood tests for people with epilepsy are done for a couple of reasons,
usually to either monitor or test the blood itself or to monitor the
level of antiepileptic medication in the blood.
Blood tests may be carried
out when a person is first diagnosed to check for any underlying
disease, chemical abnormality, vitamin deficiency or toxins in the
blood, which might be causing the seizures. The tests may also be used
to check the health and function of organs such as the liver and
kidneys. Such tests, while not always relevant for diagnosis, may be
useful to compare against later tests once someone has commenced
medication to monitor any side effects. Once someone begins medication,
the frequency of such tests depends on the medication/s being taken, the
results of earlier tests and the general health of the person.
The other test from blood, which may
be done for people with epilepsy, are blood levels ie measuring
the levels of antiepileptic medications. However this test is not always
useful on a routine basis. For example, consider a person who has not
had a seizure in 12 months but the blood level test shows a low level of
medication in the system. Should the medication be increased? Or
alternatively a person has felt quite ill since beginning a particular
medication. If the blood level test shows a low level of the medication,
should the medication be increased? Generally, how a person is feeling,
the side effects, and how well controlled their seizures are is a good
indication if the level is appropriate for that person.
Phenytoin (Dilantin) is the one
epilepsy medication which Doctors may routinely check via blood levels,
especially when a person first begins treatment or at least until they
are stabilized on medication. This is because the body breaks down
Phenytoin in quite a different way to other epilepsy drugs. For most
anticonvulsants, as the dose is increased the concentration in the blood
increases proportionally. However, with Phenytoin as the dose in
increased the blood level concentration may suddenly rise quite rapidly
and the person may become toxic.
Reasons to do blood levels are poor
seizure control, suspicion of non-compliance (ie not taking medication),
pregnancy, growth spurts in children, or when a person may be unable to
communicate to the doctor any side effects they are experiencing due to
their age or a disability.
All tests, including blood tests
should be done for a specific purpose, not just because you happen to be
at the doctorís surgery. As always each case is different and you need
to ask your treating doctor why certain tests are or are not being
Buchanan, N. (1990). Epilepsy
Questions & Answers. Sydney: MacLennan & Petty
Marshall, F.(1998). Your Child:
Epilepsy. Dorset: Element Books Ltd.
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