Medical Marijuana Access for Epilepsy Patients in New York

In the United States, it is estimated that about 1.2% of U.S. people have active epilepsy. This is about 3.4 million people nationwide, according to Healthline.

The New York Department of Health reported that the number of individuals with epilepsy in the state is unknown. Most studies suggest that slightly fewer than one percent of the population has epilepsy.

Epilepsy Cases in New York

The slightly fewer than 1 percent of the New York population that has epilepsy, means that nearly 180,000 people living in New York have epilepsy.

In addition, there are approximately 9,000 New Yorkers newly-diagnosed with epilepsy each year. This is according to the New York State Department of Health.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) noted that among the 215,200 epilepsy patients in the state of New York, 26,600 are ages 0-16.

What is Epilepsy

Epilepsy The Epilepsy Foundation defines epilepsy as a neurological condition that affects the nervous system. It is a chronic disease of the brain characterized by an enduring or persisting predisposition to generate seizures. Hence, it is also known as a seizure disorder.

A person who experiences at least two seizures (or after one seizure with a high risk for more) that were not caused by some known medical condition is usually diagnosed with epilepsy.

A seizure, a short change in normal brain activity, is thought to be the main sign of epilepsy.

It is the result of sudden, brief changes in the electrical balance of the brain, and it happens when there are too many electrical charges in the brain.

Seizures typically last a few seconds to a few minutes and affect awareness, physical movements, or speech.

Epilepsy is one of the most common neurological diseases and affects people of all ages, races, social classes, and geographical locations.

When an individual is diagnosed with epilepsy and experiences several seizures, their awareness, physical movements, or speech, are affected.

Symptoms of Most people who have epilepsy have the following symptoms:

  • Tremors
  • Loss of awareness
  • Appear to be ‘daydreaming’ or ‘switching off’
  • Blank stares that last a few seconds
  • Rapid eye blinking
  • Chewing movements
  • Other random movements

An overview of epilepsy symptoms may look like heart attacks, strokes, or lack of balance.

The first signs of epilepsy can develop during the pre-school and elementary school years. It is often considered a lifelong condition and can be managed with the use of medication, special diets, or surgery.

Types of Epilepsy

The International League Against Epilepsy (ILAE) revised the classification of seizures in 2017.

Previously, there were only two types of epilepsy. Now, there are three types of it based on the key features below:

  • The onset or beginning of a seizure
  • A person’s level of awareness during a seizure
  • Whether movements happen during a seizure

How are seizures classified today?

  1. Generalized Onset Seizures – affect both sides of the brain or groups of cells on both sides of the brain at the same time. It includes seizures like tonic-clonic, absence, myoclonic, clonic, tonic, or atonic.
  2. Focal Onset Awareness – can start in one area or group of cells on one side of the brain. It is sometimes called partial seizures but the term focal is used to be more accurate when talking about where seizures begin.
  3. Unknown Onset Seizures – when the beginning of a seizure is not known or if the seizure is not witnessed or seen by anyone (when seizures happen at night or in a person who lives alone).

Causes of Epilepsy

About 30% of the 180,000 new cases of epilepsy every year occur in children.

Most patients diagnosed with epilepsy are children and elderly adults. The minority of the cases have determined clear causes, but the typical known cause of a seizure is some injury to the brain. Up to 70% of all cases of epilepsy have no discovered causes.

The main causes of epilepsy include:

  • Low oxygen during birth
  • Head injuries that occur during birth or from accidents during youth or adulthood
  • Brain tumors
  • Genetic conditions that result in brain injury like tuberous sclerosis
  • Infections like meningitis or encephalitis
  • Stroke or any other type of damage to the brain
  • Abnormal levels of substances such as sodium or blood sugar
  • Developmental disorders like autism and neurofibromatosis
  • Injury before birth like brain damage from an infection in the mother, poor nutrition, or oxygen deficiencies

How Epilepsy Impacts One’s Lifestyle People who are developmentally disabled are more likely to have epilepsy. Epilepsy affects children and adults, men and women, and people of all races, religions, ethnic backgrounds, and social classes.

The challenges with epilepsy vary for children, adults, and seniors. Generally, patients suffering from epilepsy often experience changes in their quality of life which typically includes less mobility.

Aspects in life like learning, school attendance, employment, relationships, and social interactions, are often affected.

Most patients take steps to adapt to their lifestyle to accommodate their epileptic condition.

Types of Epilepsy Treatments Available

There is no known cure for epilepsy but medication and therapy are being used to manage the seizures and to minimize the causes.

Lifestyle modifications can also help such as:

  • Getting adequate sleep
  • Avoiding drugs and alcohol
  • Minimizing emotional stress
  • Regular exercise

Other common treatments:

  • Medicine: Anti-seizure drugs are medicines that limit the spread of seizures in the brain. Treatment plans are adjusted depending on the frequency of seizures. Medical marijuana is an alternative medication being used in managing seizures for epilepsy. Epilepsy patients can qualify for medical cannabis with TeleLeaf RX.
  • Surgery:  Focal seizures can be treated by removing the area, usually in the temporal lobe of the brain, that is causing the seizures. This can stop the seizures or make it easier for medicine to control them.
  • Medical Marijuana: New York lists epilepsy as one of the debilitating conditions qualified for medical marijuana treatment. It has become an alternative option for people with the condition.

The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) approved EPIDIOLEX® , a CBD oral solution for the treatment of seizures associated with two epilepsy syndromes ( Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome).

Medical Marijuana for Epilepsy Patients in NY

If you are considering medical marijuana for your epileptic condition, you will need a medical marijuana card and a recommendation from a cannabis-trained and licensed doctor.

Let us help you get started through our HIPAA-compliant application on our online platform. You can also visit our NY page or give us a call for more information.

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