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Living with Epilepsy

Living your day-to-day life can be challenging enough, but living with epilepsy can add another layer of obstacles. You can overcome those obstacles by paying attention to your epilepsy symptoms and triggers.

Ask yourself questions about your seizures: What triggers them? How do they feel? What behaviors decrease the frequency of the seizures? The answers can lead to valuable insights and help you manage your condition.

Know Your Triggers

Epilepsy affects people of all ages, races, and gender. No single cause for epilepsy is known. It can originate from a range of causes, including birth defects in the structure of the brain, head injuries, and strokes and tumors. Epilepsy is known as a spectrum disorder. This means many different factors can contribute to epilepsy in one person that might not affect another.

Recognizing the triggers can help you figure out what’s causing a seizure. Common triggers include:

  • lack of sleep or change in sleep habits
  • strenuous physical activity
  • stress-related mood changes
  • loss of breath or heightened breathing
  • dehydration
  • flickering lights or strobe-like movements

Some people with epilepsy have a distinct, sometimes unpleasant, feeling that a seizure is coming. These early warnings are called auras. They could be bodily sensations, disorientation with the outside world, or a difficulty in interacting with things around you. If you have auras, knowing and recognizing them can help you prepare for an oncoming seizure.

Keep a Journal

The best way to know what triggers your seizures is to keep a detailed calendar and notes as they happen. Not only will this help you, but it can also help your doctor and loves ones prepare for future incidents.

Keep a record of how you feel mentally and physically before, during, and after a seizure. Talk to friends, family, or coworkers who might be around at the time of a seizure. This will help them understand triggers that you can’t see yourself.

Each case of epilepsy is different. Different combinations of symptoms can help define your specific type of epilepsy. Over time you can begin to see patterns in the triggers that affect your seizures. This will help prepare you for a healthier future.

Lower Your Risk

Seizures can happen anywhere at any time. With some basic precautions, you can prepare yourself and others.

Minimize Stress

Lowering your stress level is good for all facets of your life, not just for epilepsy. If stress is a problem for you, find new ways to relieve the tension. Two common ways to relieve stress are meditation and yoga. Both use relaxation techniques to help clear your mind and ease tension. Yoga is also a great way to stay fit.

Get Plenty of Sleep

Though sleep is essential for everyone, it’s especially vital for people with epilepsy. Try to create conditions that help you get enough rest, such as:

  • going to sleep at the same time every night
  • eliminating noises
  • staying off electronics an hour before bedtime

Sleep disturbance may escalate the amount of seizures in certain situations. Keeping a record of your sleep patterns can help determine the sleep habits that are right for you. If you feel that you may have a sleep disorder, contact your doctor. Many times, sleep problems make it harder for an individual with epilepsy to minimize seizures or find treatments that work.

The Takeaway

Epilepsy can be a challenging and disorienting condition to live with, but it doesn’t have to rule your life. Educating yourself on your personal symptoms and triggers can benefit you in a number of ways. By anticipating your seizures, you can help prepare yourself and those around you for situations in which you’ll need assistance to stay safe. Also, knowing more about your triggers can help you avoid seizures. Leading a healthy and satisfying life with epilepsy is possible when you learn how to manage your symptoms. 

Content licensed from:

Written by: Janette Fuentes
Medically reviewed on: Mar 24, 2016: Jeanne Morrison, PhD, MSN

This feature is for informational purposes only and should not be used to replace the care and information received from your health care provider. Please consult a health care professional with any health concerns you may have.
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