Epilepsy and Daily Life

Epilepsy affects important aspects of life, such as social relationships, work and leisure activities.

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This is the case even for patients who experience rare epileptic seizures, as the possibility of a seizure is constantly on their mind. They should therefore avoid activities where an epileptic seizure could be dangerous, such as driving, cycling, swimming, mountain climbing etc.

Some patients can feel a seizure coming on. For example, they might feel more irritable on the day before the seizure, with a headache, or have strange sensations in the stomach. These symptoms that herald an epileptic event are called “aura”. However, in many patients the seizure comes on totally unexpectedly. The severity of the seizure varies from person to person. In certain individuals, the epileptic attack is practically imperceptible, while in others it is bad enough to require hospitalisation.

In all cases, the diagnosis of epilepsy does not mean that patients have to confine themselves to safe environments. It is still possible to lead a normal life with epilepsy.

Epilepsy: how to live with the condition

Epilepsy patients run the risk of experiencing a seizure every day of their lives, but the risks they encounter may differ from person to person.

However, studies show that only 1% of epileptic seizures effectively cause harm. With awareness of the potential risks and how they can be reduced, any activities can be made safe, and people suffering from epilepsy can live a full and active life.

Certain patients, in particular those who have uncontrolled seizures, have a major risk of injury. However, although it is important to avoid risky activities, it is also necessary for the everyday life of an epileptic patient not to be limited too much.

Precautions can therefore be taken during everyday activities in order to be able to live a normal life:

- Taking a shower involves fewer risks than a bath, for example; however, if a person with epilepsy wishes to take a bath, it is advised not to fill the bath too full, not to lock the door, and to let someone know what they are doing.

- For people who suffer frequent seizures and collapse to the ground, it is advised that they wear a protective helmet. For those who live alone, it can be useful to install collapse alarms.

It is also important to know a lot about the treatment for epilepsy they are taking, its brand name, prescribed dose and concentration, and to be aware of the potential side effects.

Alcohol is not compatible with certain antiepileptic drugs and could trigger an epileptic seizure. The doctor may or may not allow the consumption of small quantities of alcohol.

The most important thing is not to stop taking the medication. Stopping taking the medication without reason can increase seizures, but also the risk of status epilepticus, which specifically can trigger brain damage, but also death. Antiepileptic drugs should only be suspended on instruction by a doctor.

For further information: Epilepsy Action

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