How to Control Temporal Lobe Seizures

Three Methods:Medical InterventionsDiet ModificationsLifestyle Changes

Temporal lobe seizures start in the temporal lobes of the brain. The temporal lobe’s functions include organizing sensory input, language and speech production, auditory perception and memory association and formation. During normal cycles of waking and sleeping, the brain cells create varying electrical activity. If this electrical activity becomes abnormally synchronized, a convulsion or seizure may arise. If this happens in just one area of the brain, the result is a focal seizure. A temporal lobe seizure is considered a partial seizure that originates in one area of the temporal lobes. Controlling temporal lobe seizures involve seeking medical intervention through medications and therapies, as well as making lifestyle and diet modifications.

Method 1
Medical Interventions

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    Take antiepileptic or anticonvulsant medications. These medicines have a direct effect on the brain’s electrical activity. A seizure occurs when too much electrical activity spreads from one part of the brain to the other areas. This causes uncontrolled stimulation of nerves that supply many parts of your body. Anticonvulsants minimize these abnormally high levels of electrical activity, thereby reducing symptoms of seizures.[1]
    • One of the most commonly prescribed anticonvulsant medications is oxcarbazepine. It works by reducing the abnormal electrical activity in the brain. The recommended dose for adults is 1200 mg/day orally. For children ages 2 to 16 years, the recommended daily oral dose is 8-10 mg/kg.[2]
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    Work with your doctor to create a personalized medication plan. Antiepileptic drugs may take up to two months to show their effects. During this time, try to remain patient and work with your doctor to create a plan for your use of medications, should the first medication you try not work. Start with one first line drug (such as oxcarbazepine described above, or lamotrigine, carbamazepine, or phenytoin). Begin at a low dose and gradually increase the dose until you no longer experience seizures.
    • If the first medication you try does not reduce your seizures, or you experience negative side effects (such as bowel disturbance, baldness, breast enlargement in males, abnormal hair growth in females, skin rash etc) then your doctor may add a second line drug to your medication regimen. These second line drugs could include topiramate, zonisamide, valproic acid, tiagabine, gabapentin, lacosamide, or phenobarbital.
    • If the second line drug is not effective, then your doctor will phase you off of it and then start you on a different one. Always consult your doctor before stopping or reducing a medication.
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    Consider brain surgery if medications do not control your seizures. A brain surgery called temporal lobe resection may be an option for people whose seizures are not controlled by medication. It may also be an option for patients whose seizures are disabling or when the side effects of medications are too severe and can greatly affect the quality of your life. Brain surgery is only considered if the area of the brain where seizures usually start (called seizure focus) can be clearly identified. Also, the area of the brain to be removed must not be responsible for any vital or critical functions such as movement, sensation and language[3].
    • In this procedure, the brain tissue in the temporal lobe is resected, or cut away in order to remove the seizure focus. Nearly 90 percent of people with temporal lobe seizures see a significant reduction or cessation of seizures after getting this surgery.[4] However, because the temporal lobe’s functions include organizing sensory input, language and speech production, auditory perception and memory association and formation, removing a portion of it increases the patient’s risks for:
    • Double vision
    • Memory problems
    • Motor skills and language problems
    • Partial, one-sided weakness or paralysis of the body
    • Reduced visual field
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    Consider vagus nerve stimulation. This type of surgery makes use of a vagus nerve stimulator, which is a small device that is surgically implanted under the skin near the collarbone. The vagus nerve is one of the 12 cranial nerves in the body that is found in the neck and has many functions such as breathing, speech, sweating, regulating heartbeat and emptying of food. A wire or lead under the skin connects the vagus nerve stimulator to the vagus nerve in the neck.[5]
    • The doctor programs the device to create weak electrical signals that travel along the vagus nerve to the brain at regular intervals. These signals aid in preventing electrical bursts in the brain that cause seizures. The vagus nerve stimulator can be activated right after surgery.
    • A slight bulge in the area of the collarbone can be noticed and the surgery will leave scars on the side of the neck.
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    Talk to your doctor about responsive neurostimulation. Responsive neurostimulation (RNS) is a device that directly stimulates the brain to stop or control seizures. The surgeon will surgically implant the stimulator in the skull that is connected to one or two electroencephalogram (EEG) leads which records the brain’s electrical activity. These leads are surgically implanted in or on top of the brain where the abnormal electric activities start.[6]
    • The device is battery-operated and has special technology that is able to detect and record the brain’s electrical activity. When the device detects a seizure, it automatically sends an electric current to disrupt the seizure activity. The device is programmed by neurologist based on the EEG and response of the patient.
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    Learn more about deep brain stimulation (DBS). DBS therapy controls excess electrical activity in the brain through the use of regular electrical impulses to minimize the frequency and severity of seizures. The surgery for DBS is done by a trained neurosurgeon under general anaesthetic. During the first part of the surgical procedure, two leads are placed inside the brain through an incision in the skull. The leads are connected to small wires and are attached to the neurostimulator.[7]
    • During the second part of the surgical procedure, the neurostimulator is implanted under the collarbone. The neurostimulator contains a small battery and a computer chip that is programmed to send electrical current to the brain in case of seizures in order to disrupt it. After the surgery, the stimulator is programmed by the doctor using a hand-held computer. This sets the amount of electrical stimulation delivered. It can take several months for doctors to determine the right level of stimulation because it varies from person to person, so careful monitoring and recording is done.

Method 2
Diet Modifications

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    Increase your sodium intake. A person with hyponatremia, or low levels of sodium in the body, can suffer seizures from brain swelling. This happens when water flows into the brain because of a drop in sodium levels, in order to balance the level of fluid and salt. This leads to cerebral edema or brain swelling. The excess fluid now disrupts the ability of the neurons or nerve cells to transmit electrical signals. This disruption can cause abnormal electric impulses or activity in the brain and may aggravate the occurrence of temporal lobe seizures[8].
    • The recommended intake of sodium is less than 2300 mg a day.[9] Foods rich in sodium are bacon, soy sauce, cured meat and fish, cheese, pickles, instant noodles, roasted and salted nuts, pretzels, eggs, biscuits and canned goods.
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    Up your intake of calcium. Performing any kind of brain function requires several neurons or nerve cells in different parts of the brain to communicate with each other. They are able to communicate by sending electrical signals, triggering an inflow of calcium ions into active cells. Having a sufficient amount of calcium in the body aids in proper nerve cell communication through the use of electrical signals in the brain[10].
    • If the level of calcium in the body drops, it can result to a disruption in the electrical signals in the brain and may aggravate the occurrence of temporal lobe seizures.
    • The recommended intake of calcium is 1000 mg per day.[11] Foods rich in calcium are cheese, yogurt, milk, sardines, spinach, kale, fortified cereals, oranges, soybeans and enriched breads.
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    Eat more magnesium-rich foods. Magnesium is a well-known anticonvulsive agent that helps regulate the electrical activity in the brain. Low levels of magnesium can lead to abnormal electrical activity in the brain and may aggravate the occurrence of temporal lobe seizures.[12]
    • The recommended intake of magnesium is 350 mg daily. Foods rich in magnesium are spinach, nuts and seeds, mackerel, beans, lentils, brown rice, avocados, yogurt, bananas, dried fruit and dark chocolate.
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    Increase your intake of Omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids play important roles in determining both the structural and functional properties of neuronal membranes. Omega-3 affects the membrane’s functions, which include electrical signalling, sensitivity of receptors and release of brain chemicals or neurotransmitters. If the level of omega-3 fatty acids is insufficient, the electrical signalling in the brain can be impaired and can result to abnormal electrical activity, which in turn leads to the occurrence of temporal lobe seizures.[13]
    • The recommended dose for omega-3 fatty acids is not more than 3 grams daily[14]. Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids are sardines, salmon, soybeans, flax seeds, walnuts, tofu, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, shrimp and winter squash.

Method 3
Lifestyle Changes

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    Follow your biological clock. Everyone has a biological or internal clock that senses what time of day or night it is, so that your body can prepare itself for the activities you will be doing during that time. This internal clock is controlled by hormones and enzymes like cortisol. Your neural functioning is affected by this internal clock. Because of this, you should try to stick to the activities your brain thinks you should be doing at each time of day.
    • This means avoiding stimulating yourself with substances like caffeine at nighttime, as this can affect when you go to sleep.
    • Keep your work space well lit during the day, as this will help to keep your brain stimulated.
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    Try to avoid becoming constipated. When you are constipated, your body forms and absorbs toxic substances that can affect your brain and nervous system. In turn, these toxins may act as a trigger for seizure activity.
    • Eat plenty of fiber by including fiber-rich fruits and vegetables in your diet. You should also stay hydrated in order to maintain good bowel health.
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    Stop smoking. The nicotine in cigarettes acts on brain receptors for the excitatory neurotransmitter (brain chemicals that stimulate brain functions) acetylcholine. This increases neuronal firing or the process in which the neurons or nerves relay messages to each other through electrical impulses[15]. If there are excessive electrical impulses in the brain, it may aggravate the occurrence of temporal lobe seizures.
    • Talk to your doctor about methods you can use to quit smoking. You can also read an article about the topic here.
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    Control your stress levels. Stress deranges normal neuronal activities in the brain which may act as a trigger for seizures. Try to live as stress-free a life as possible in order to control any stress-induced seizures you may experience.
    • Try meditating to control your stress levels. To meditate, find a quiet, calm place to sit. Close your eyes and focus solely on the air passing in and out of your body as you breathe. Let your worries and anxieties slip away. There are several different kinds of meditation, including mantra meditation, and mindful meditation.[16]
    • Another way to fight stress is to engage both your body and mind by practicing yoga. Yoga can help to strengthen your body, while also acting as a form of meditation for your mind. You can practice yoga at home, or you can sign up for a yoga class at your local gym or meditation center.[17]
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    Adopt certain safety measures. These are not to control seizures but to prevent accidents and injuries during a seizure episode. You do not have control of yourself during a seizure and it could put you at risk for injury, especially if you are alone.
    • Do not swim or go into any body of water by yourself. Wear a life jacket before going into the water.
    • Do not climb ladders or position yourself in precarious places, as you may fall if you have a seizure.
    • Do not drive or operate dangerous mechanical tools.


  • Always talk to your doctor before making changes to your diet, lifestyle, or medication regimen.

Sources and Citations

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Categories: Neurological Disorders