A New Trend in Fighting Seizures: Anti-Inflammatory Medications

Experts estimate that about 2.7 million people in the US suffer from seizures. About 1/3 do not respond or respond poorly to anti-seizure medications. A new trend is to prescribe steroids as an anti-inflammatory medication based on the finding that people with seizures have more inflammation in the brain. 

A New York Times article details the current research in the link between inflammation and seizures. As I was reading the article, I couldn’t help but think how may of these people with seizures have untreated obstructive sleep apnea. Numerous studies have shown a link between obstructive sleep apnea and seizures. In fact, sleep deprivation is known to lower your seizure threshold, meaning that you’re more likely to suffer epilepsy given your various risk factors. Other studies have shown significantly improved seizures after treating for obstructive sleep apnea.

We know from countless studies that obstructive sleep apnea causes major inflammation in the brain. This can be from hypoxia, micro strokes, small vessel clotting, and thickened blood viscosity. Yes, blocking inflammation (the end result) can seem to help, but you’re not really getting to the root cause of the problem. I’m not saying that all forms of seizures are caused by sleep-breathing disorders, but even if 25% have undiagnosed sleep apnea, that’s a very large number of people with epilepsy that can be treated.

I’ve written here before about seizures and sleep apnea. One thing that I notice is that the upper airway in patients with a seizure diagnosis is much more narrow than normal. Most of these patients prefer to sleep on their sides or stomach. This supports my theory that they are prone to breathing problems at night.

If you know anyone who has epilepsy, do they snore, or have parents that snore? Do they sleep on their back, side or stomach?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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4 thoughts on “A New Trend in Fighting Seizures: Anti-Inflammatory Medications

  1. Don’t forget the effect of OSA on ICP, and that steroids will reduce ICP and brain edema. OSA increases glutamate neuroexcitotoxicity and glutamate may cause brain edema. Glutamate may also increase seizure risk. It stimulates the prostaglandin cascade (inflammation) and this can be blocked with NSAIDS and steroids.

  2. Hi, my Son has siezures since he was two and ahalf . before He got his first attack, he had avery bad blocked nose, loud ubnormal sound during sleep- some times scary , and bad smell from the nose. also he got bad tonsilitis several times arround that time. I allways suspected there is relationship bettween these symptoms and his siezures but I donot know how to deal with that or where to go. my life changed since my son got sick and Iam ready for any thing to help him. can you help?

  3. Hi my girlfriend suffers with jme epilepsy and she has a broken sleep pattern which in turn affects her energy levels and then her epilepsy, after reading about sleep apnea I was wondering if you had any further information on it or where I could find it ? Thanks for your time

  4. My daughter has had intractable epilepsy for 6 years since she was 14 and has had numerous AED’s with no effect on regualr seizure clusters – with up to 30 seizures a day – (epilm, keppra, vimpat, zonegran, oxycarbazapine etc) – however hydro-cortisone ear drops immediately had a positive effect! reducing absence, myaclonic and complex partial seizures, normalising awareness and memory! Her neurologist, an eminent head of a neurological teaching hospital thinks this is coincidental! She was an extremely bright child – talented musician, however she has shown some autistic symptoms – including toe walking, monotonous tone, difficulties socialising with peer group, obsession about food textures etc. She has had autoimmune tests done with no positive results. – with her seizures she also has a stiff neck (which also goes with application of hydro-cortisone) and blood in her mucus in the early mornings when she is susceptible to seizures. I am keen to explore what this might mean in the hope of finding a working treatment for my daughter.