How to live well with epilepsy?
Published 13 Feb 2023 • By Rahul Roy
Managing epilepsy can be tricky as there are a plethora of factors to consider for its care, but it is possible to live a full and fulfilling life with adequate care and attention.
Although it may seem overwhelming initially, there are plenty of options available to best manage the condition.
What is epilepsy? What are it’s causes, symptoms and treatments? How to manage the disease to live a fullfilling life?
Discover more here!
Epilepsy is a chronic disease that affects the brain and causes recurring seizures.
Seizures may be defined as episodes of involuntary movement that impacts either a part of the body or the whole body.
Seizures are caused by excessive bursts of electrical activity in the brain, that temporarily stuns the brain, negatively impacting the way it functions. This causes lapses in the signals sent by the brain to the body leading to these movements called seizures.
It is estimated to affect around 50 million people worldwide, making it one of the most common neurological diseases in the world.
What are the causes of Epilepsy?
Although epilepsy is not a contagious disease, it is still very prominent across the world. 50% of the epilepsy cases worldwide have no clear-cut causes, but some of the most prominent known causes are-
- Brain damage or Head trauma
- Brain tumors
- Genetic factors
- Brain infections such as meningitis or neurocysticecosis
- Strokes that disrupt the movement of oxygen to the brain
- Substance abuse
- Conditions associated with brain malformations
What are the treatments for Epilepsy?
Epilepsy is a condition that can be treated to have manage seizures better in some situations, depending on the medication recommended by the doctor after a diagnosis. Although there is no cure for epilepsy, there are treatments available that can help to manage the condition. Some of the most common methods of treatment for epilepsy are-
- Anti seizure medication or anti epileptic drugs are the main treatment for epilepsy. They help reduce the frequency and intensity of seizures for certain people.
- Surgery in case medication doesn’t work effectively, to remove a small part of the brain, from where the seizure originates.
- A special ketogenic diet (low-fat, high-carbohydrate diet) to help control seizures.
- Vagus nerve stimulation, where a device sends electrical waves to the vagus nerve (connecting the brain and abdomen) to reduce frequency of seizures.
- Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.
How to live well with epilepsy?
Living with epilepsy can be a difficult and sometimes isolating experience. It is a neurological disorder that causes seizures and can often be unpredictable. Learning to live with epilepsy requires a combination of lifestyle adjustments, effective treatment, and strong support from family and friends.
Find an effective treatment plan
- Taking medicine as directed by the doctor after a diagnosis is crucial for controlling and preventing seizures.
- Always keep track of how much medication is left, to try to be as precise as possible. It is helpful to note medicine usage patterns to stay updated and in this modern age, there are plenty of mobile applications to keep track of usage habits.
- Ensure that the medication is stored in an easily location for ease of use, while at home and also while travelling.
- Common medications used to treat epilepsy include anti-convulsants, anti-seizure drugs, and antiepileptic drugs.
- In some cases, surgery may be necessary to reduce the frequency and severity of seizures.
Making healthy lifestyle changes
- Making lifestyle changes can also be helpful in managing epilepsy.
- Eating a healthy diet, getting enough sleep, and avoiding alcohol and drugs can help reduce the risks of seizures.
- It is important to practice relaxation techniques, such as meditation, to help reduce stress and anxiety. Stress and anxiety can trigger seizures, so finding ways to reduce stress is important.
- It is also important to know the triggers that can cause a seizure and to avoid them if possible. Practice mindfulnes when choosing the activity as activities such as rock climbing and swimming could be problematic.
- Try to epilepsy proof your home by using shatterproof cutlery, automatic switch off taps, chairs with high arms to prevent falling over etc.
Seeking support from friends and family
- Having a strong support system is also very important when living with epilepsy.
- It can be beneficial to have family and friends who understand the condition and can provide emotional support. Having them close by also provides an outlet to seek immediate medical attention in case of emergency situations.
- Learning to deal with seizure episodes is important so that the family member or friend can administer the appropriate care, whether it is making them feel comfortable during the seizure, calling medical authorities, noting down seizure patterns or going to doctor appointments with them.
- Joining support groups or talking to a counselor can also be helpful in managing the emotions associated.
Managing Epilepsy in the Workspace
- An employee with epilepsy requires more care and attention than others and it is necessary for an organization to look out for their health.
- It is important to inform the organization about the condition so that the company gets an idea about the type of epilepsy, warning signals before a seizure, recovery time from a seizure, actions to administer in case of a seizure etc.
- Hiring employees with epilepsy also depends on the job characteristics, and a role that puts the employee in high stress situations would be less ideal.
- An epileptic employee should duly inform the employer about potential seizure triggers, so that the workforce can exercise caution around the employee.
- Accessible toilet spaces as well as ample space can alleviate the stress of an epileptic.
- Remember that having epilepsy doesn't have to prevent you from having a successful career. With the right attitude and surroundings, you can manage your condition and thrive in the workplace.
With the correct diagnosis, treatment, and lifestyle changes, it is possible to live a full and active life with epilepsy. Remember to stay informed, stay proactive, and stay connected with your healthcare team and other people with epilepsy. Shake off the seizures by following the recommended steps, and help an epileptic make epilepsy, less hectic.
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Epilepsy - NHS (www.nhs.uk)
Epilepsy Fast Facts | CDC (www.cdc.gov)
Tips & Tricks for People Living with Epilepsy | Epilepsy Foundation (www.epilepsy.com)
10 Life Hacks For Living With Epilepsy | Henry Ford Health (www.henryford.com)
Living with Epilepsy – EFEPA – Epilepsy Foundation Eastern Pennsylvania (www.efepa.org)
Epilepsy in the workplace: a 10 step guide - System Concepts (system-concepts.com)
Caring for someone with epilepsy | Epilepsy Society (www.epilepsysociety.org)
Loving Someone With Epilepsy | Blogs | CDC(www.blogs.cdc.gov)