This section is from the book "The Home Hand-Book of Domestic Hygiene and Rational Medicine. Volume 2.", by J. H. Kellogg, M.D.. Also available from Amazon: The Home Hand-Book of Domestic Hygiene and Rational Medicine, Volume 2.
This is an exceedingly obstinate disease, and has long been looked upon as almost incurable. Undoubtedly there are many cases in which the disease is incurable in character on account of the incurable nature of the conditions by which it is produced. When a marked tendency to the disease is inherited, and when it arises from the formation of tumors in the brain, or of other organic changes in the nerve centers, no remedies which can be employed will be found of any special utility. Our experience in the treatment of this affection convinces us, however, that in a large proportion of cases a cure can be effected. In order to accomplish this, the patient must comply rigidly with every needful requirement. The diet must be plain and simple, consisting almost wholly of fruits, grains, and vegetables. Milk and eggs can be used in moderation, but the less meat the patient takes, the better. Those who have had the most experience in the treatment of epilepsy, insist that a vegetable diet is one of the essential features of successful treatment. Bad habits of every sort, and the use of tobacco, alcoholic liquors, and of tea and coffee, must be wholly abandoned. The patient must practice rigid continence. Every possible attention should be given to building up the general health by exercise in the open air, and regular and adequate sleep, and attention to all the laws of hygiene. It is not only necessary that the patient should eat the right kind of food, but he should be particularly careful to avoid excess in eating. One of the peculiar features of this disease is a voracious appetite with a tendency to eat very rapidly. If the appetite cannot be controlled in any other way, the patient should be placed on an allowance. We have in some instances found the difficulty in controlling the patient's appetite one of the greatest obstacles to recovery. The most effectual remedial measures are general baths, taken with sufficient frequency to secure thorough cleanliness and activity of the skin. In addition, fomentations over the stomach and liver may be taken daily in connection with the warm leg bath, alternate hot and cold applications to the spine, particularly the upper part, and the application of galvanism in the form known as central galvanization, together with galvanization of the spine. In some cases of very inveterate character, we have found it advantageous to employ bromide of potassium for a time, in order to destroy the periodicity of the paroxysms, when they occurred with great frequency. In some cases, in which the bromide of potash has been wholly ineffectual in checking or keeping off the paroxysms, we have been able to accomplish the desired result by means of the other measure» described.
During the attack, care should be taken to prevent the patient doing himself injury, as by falling upon some sharp object or upon a hot stove. We had, sometime since, a patient who had broken both ankles, and otherwise injured himself, by falling from the balcony of a hotel during an epileptic fit. Many patients carry with them a wedge of wood, to be placed between the teeth when the symptoms of an attack make their appearance, thus preventing biting the tongue, which is sometimes a very unpleasant feature of the disease. In patients in whom the attack is preceded by an aura, the fit may sometimes be kept off by the prompt application of proper treatment. When the aura is felt in the limb, as is very often the case, simple pressure of the limb against some hard substance, or placing the hand in cold water will in many cases prove effectual. In a case now under our care, the patient is generally able to resist the attack by grasping with firmness the handle of a cane which he always carries with him for the purpose. The paroxysm itself is seldom attended with immediate danger, although the contortions are sometimes so frightful as to excite great alarm.