So You Went and Had a Seizure. Now what?
Why go and do a thing like that?
Not funny. No one wants seizures, of course. But this question is actually important, because the reason someone has a seizure is used to determine whether he or she needs to go on anticonvulsants—anti-seizure medication to prevent them.
Epilepsy, defined as a
“sudden change in behavior caused by electrical hypersynchronization of neuronal networks in the cerebral cortex,”
is diagnosed officially after two or more unprovoked (see below) seizures more than 24 hours apart. If this happens, there is the likelihood more seizures are coming1.
Often, getting them is a lifelong commitment, so things must be sorted out clearly on the front end. And even though they may not end up being a lifelong commitment, a commitment to anticonvulsants is always a mistake if that decision is wrong.
Should anticonvulsants be started after a first seizure?
If epilepsy is diagnosed aft ...
Glucagon, Goldilocks, and the Three Bears
To understand the role of the medication, Glucagon, one must understand how it figures in the grand scheme of things, and it all starts with eating. In healthy people, eating causes1
the intestines release two chemicals (peptides), GLP-1 (glucagon-like peptide-1) and GIP (glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide)—thank goodness for abbreviations!
the pancreas to release insulin and amylin.
The GLP-1 from the intestines and the amylin from the pancreas work together to:
inhibit stomach emptying, delaying food’s passing on into the intestines where sugar (glucose) is absorbed;
inhibit glucagon release (glucagon raises blood sugar);4
inhibit appetite (the “fed” signal to the brain).
The GLP-1 and the GIP from the intestines stimulate the secretion of insulin from the pancreas (called “the incretin effect”).
Therefore, a short su ...