Life With Epilepsy

Epilepsy: The Ketogenic Diet

The Classic Ketogenic Diet is a labor intensive metabolic therapy with rigidly calculated meal plans.

Meals are high in fat, low in carbohydrates and protein to produce a high blood concentration of incompletely burned fat molecules called ketone bodies. Slight fluid restriction increases concentration of the ketone bodies and is useful for optimum effect. The state of ketosis is monitored in the urine while moderate to heavy ketosis is attempted.

The exact mechanism by which the Diet obtains seizure control is unknown. Ketosis, dehydration and acidosis each appear to play a role. The hypothesis, which arrived out of the Epilepsy recent research suggests that there is an alteration in the (1) acid-base balance; (2) water and electrolyte distribution; (3) lipid concentration (4) brain energy reserve or (5) a central action of ketones on the brain.

The Ketogenic Diet has been refined as a rigid metabolic therapy for epilepsy patients.

The usual candidate for the Diet is a patient with medically intractable generalized seizures which are not amenable to medications or surgery.

The results are showing promise in controlling seizures in young children and some adults. Currently, 51% of Epilepsy patients are either 90% improved or seizure free.

Exercising with Epilepsy

Don’t let fear of having a seizure may keep you from enjoying the benefits of regular physical activity. Seizures rarely occur during exercise; in fact, regular exercise inhibits seizure activity! Appropriate exercise can also help you maintain a healthy body weight, boost immunity, reduce stress, sleep better and feel more energized. The key to maximizing the benefits of exercise is to follow a well designed program that you can stick to over the long term.

Getting Started

  • Talk with your neurologist about whether or not you are sufficiently stable to start doing
    regular exercise
  • Take all medications as recommended by your physician
  • The primary goal of your program is to improve your overall fitness level by choosing
  • activities that you enjoy and will do on a regular basis

  • Choose large-muscle activities, such as walking, biking, rowing or jogging
  • If your fitness level is low, start with shorter sessions (10 to 15 minutes) and gradually
    build up to 30 minutes of aerobic activity, five days per week
  • At least two days per week, follow a strength-training program with one to three sets
    of exercises for the major muscle groups, with 10 to 15 repetitions
  • Mind-body activities, such as yoga and tai chi, are particularly effective for reducing
    anxiety and enhancing relaxation

Exercise Cautions

  • Avoid boxing, swimming under water, and soccer (because of heading). Activities
    requiring special monitoring include swimming and anything from heights, such as
    rock climbing or horseback riding
  • Pay attention to the precipitating factors of your seizures and schedule your exercise
    accordingly. If you take medication, be aware of how it might affect your response to
    exercise

During an epilepsy seizure / fit an epileptic person goes stiff, loses consciousness and then falls to the ground. This is followed by jerking movements. A blue tinge around the mouth is likely. This is due to irregular breathing. Loss of bladder and/or bowel control may happen. After a minute or two the jerking movements should stop and consciousness may slowly return.

Do’s:

  • Protect the person from injury
  • Remove harmful objects from nearby
  • Cushion their head
  • Look for an epilepsy identity card or identity jewellery
  • Stay with the person until recovery is complete
  • Be calmly reassuring
  • Aid breathing by gently placing them in the recovery position once the seizure has finished

(see pictures below)

Don’ts:

  • Restrain the person’s movements
  • Put anything in the person’s mouth
  • Try to move them unless they are in danger
  • Give them anything to eat or drink until they are fully recovered
  • Attempt to bring them round

Call for an ambulance if:

  • You know it is the person’s first seizure
  • The seizure continues for more than five minutes
  • One tonic-clonic seizure follows another without the person regaining consciousness between seizures
  • The person is injured during the seizure
  • You believe the person needs urgent medical attention

Focal (partial) seizures

Sometimes the person is not aware of their surroundings or what they are doing. They may pluck at their clothes, smack their lips, swallow repeatedly, and wander around.