Living with Epilepsy
People with epilepsy can live normal lives. Many athletes, authors, politicians, entrepreneurs, doctors, parents, and artists have epilepsy. Epilepsy can put a strain on families. So each member of the family needs to understand what epilepsy is, how it’s treated, and what to expect. Families can be a great source of support for someone with epilepsy–but it might take some work. Encourage all members of your family to learn as much as they can.
If you have epilepsy, you can still become involved in extracurricular activities.Your doctor will give you instructions about taking precautions to protect yourself in various situations. For example, teens with epilepsy can enjoy swimming, but should always swim with other people to be safe. Aside from some minor safety precautions, though, you can enjoy all the stuff your friends and classmates do. As long as epilepsy is under medical control, people with epilepsy are able to drive.
Tell the people close to you, your friends, relatives, teachers about your epilepsy and teach them what to do in case you have a seizure when they’re with you.
Since seizures are unpredictability in terms of their nature, timing, severity and the situations in which they can occur, can cause social difficulties. Taking an active role in managing your own epilepsy is an important part of coping successfully.
Epilepsy does not automatically disqualify you from being legally permitted to drive. In fact, many people with epilepsy do drive. Generally people with epilepsy must not drive unless they have been free from seizures for atleast 6 months and the medication does not cause drowsiness or poor co–ordination. If you have not had a seizure for over two, you may be considering quitting medication. However, if you stop medication and a seizure recurs, you will have to stop driving again for at least a further year. For many this is a very difficult decision.
Companies do not single out people with epilepsy. But there are many jobs which are not possible for example commercial driving, airline pilot, armed forces. At times employers worry about productivity, absenteeism, liability, reaction of customers or co–workers and workplace safety.
Most children with epilepsy go to normal schools. Children with epilepsy do not have any other disability, and the seizures are well controlled. You should inform the principal and teachers about the problem, most teachers will understand the correct use of medication and will not hesitate to do their best if the child has an attack.
Sport and leisure
Epilepsy is not a disease that has limitations for active and normal life. Patients can and should participate in most sports, but with informed and qualified supervision and, relevant safety measures where required.
As long as you have medication with you during your travels it is fine. Try to keep journeys short, break it up and do not tire yourself as that may make more prone to a seizure. Also when flying, ‘Jet–lag’ may make you tired. But this should not stop you from travelling. Ideally you should travel with someone or that someone on the trip is aware of your situation.
Sex and the contraceptive pill
People with epilepsy do come across sexual difficulties. Epilepsy can have effect on sex, and sex has effect on epilepsy. One of the commonest sexual effects of epilepsy is the decrease or loss of desire. This can be due to many reasons, the medication to reactions of partners or epilepsy itself. Some medicines used to treat epilepsy interfere with ‘The pill’, and a higher dose pill may be needed for effective contraception. Your doctor will give you the right advise.
During pregnancy you must make sure that seizures are minimal. However, epilepsy and the medications to treat it can have many effects on the mother, the pregnancy, and the fetus and newborn. Though most women are able to have a healthy pregnancy and baby, there are risks these include stillbirths, slightly smaller babies and perhaps high blood pressure. Before becoming pregnant it is best to seek advice from a doctor, Anticonvulsant drugs interfere with folic acid therefore you should take extra folic acid before and throughout the pregnancy. This reduces the chance of certain abnormalities occurring. If you have an unplanned pregnancy, do not stop medication but see a doctor as soon as possible.
Tips for living with epilepsy
- Make sure you get at least 8 hours of sleep everyday. Lack of sleep is known to trigger epilepsy.
- Take your antiepileptic medicines at a regular time everyday as specified by your doctor.
- Fasting is OUT! Eat proper, balanced meals and drink at least 6–8 glasses of water per day to maintain hydration.
- Infections are often associated with worsening of seizures, especially if associated with fever.
- Do not work on the computer for too long at a stretch. Take adequate breaks.
- Too much television viewing is dangerous too. Certain patterns and colors are known to trigger epilepsy. In fact just last year, a Japanese
- Children’s TV program was discontinued when it triggered epilepsy in 9 children.
- Do not take over the counter medicines for cold as they may contain ephedrine & pseudoephedrine, Known to be triggers.
- Certain drugs are known to aggravate seizures – It is best to avoid chlorpromazine, quinolone group of antibiotics (ciprofloxacin), stimulants, etc. Your doctor will be able to guide you if you have any doubts about your medicines, food, etc.