Living with epilepsy

What can trigger a seizure?

Many things can trigger a seizure in a person with epilepsy.

Some causes include:

  • Missing or suddenly stopping seizure medications
  • Doubling up on medications due to missed doses
  • Physical illnesses and fever (cold, flu, etc.)
  • Stress
  • Sleep problems or missing sleep
  • Extreme temperatures
  • Hormonal changes
  • Overusing alcohol
  • Overusing illicit drugs
  • Some medications, including over-the-counter medications

What can change day-to-day

Epilepsy increases the risk of injury, but that doesn't mean that people with epilepsy shouldn't lead full lives.

There are a few lifestyle changes which can reduce the risk of problems:

  • Take showers rather than baths
  • Don't cook or work in the kitchen alone
  • Be careful with ladders and other situations that could increase the risk of a fall
  • A medical alert bracelet or necklace is a good idea if a person has frequent seizures
  • Be sure to consult your physician before beginning a new activity or diet

Driving

The biggest challenge for many people with epilepsy is not being able to get a driver’s license or losing the one they have. Many people with well-controlled epilepsy can resume driving. It is vital for those with epilepsy to drive ONLY when it can be done legally and safely. Laws vary considerably from state to state. We advocate for total honesty when it comes to reporting any ‘breakthrough” seizures.

Other ways epilepsy affects lives

 

Mood

Epilepsy can cause depression, although antidepressant medications may help. Some seizure medications also can cause depression. If this occurs, sometimes a change of medication can alleviate the issue.

Memory

Epilepsy and seizure medications often cause memory problems. But in general, the more effectively seizures are controlled, the less memory is affected.

Hormones

Epilepsy and seizure medications affect hormones. This can impact women most of all, because seizure medications can change menstrual patterns, and may also reduce the effectiveness of some forms of contraception.

Pregnancy

Women with epilepsy can become pregnant and have a healthy baby. But this requires close collaboration between the woman’s neurologist and obstetrician. Seizure medications may need to be adjusted several times during pregnancy.

Bone health

Some seizure medications cause bone problems. Women and men can both develop osteoporosis (thinning of the bones) due to seizure medications, which can increase the chance of fractures.