How to Cope with a Seizure Disorder

Wednesday 3 March 2021
Seizure Disorders

Table of Contents


I. Understanding Your Condition

a. Generalized Onset Seizures

b. Focal Onset Seizures

II. Monitoring Your Patterns

III. Utilizing Technology

IV. Staying Active

V. Stay Well-Rested


Seizures may occur suddenly, without warning, and to anyone. Those who have a seizure disorder like epilepsy can face unique challenges that many people are unaware of. After experiencing an initial seizure, your doctor will likely prescribe an anticonvulsant like Dilantin (phenytoin)Keppra (levetiracetam)Lamictal (lamotrigine), or Topamax (topiramate) to reduce the risk of it happening again. But epilepsy is a neurological condition characterized by recurring seizures, so those with epilepsy may live in anxiety over when the next seizure will occur. Not knowing when a seizure will strike can be overwhelming, and it can inhibit a lot of daily activities, but there are steps you can take to live an active and full life. [1]

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Understanding Your Condition 

When you live with epilepsy, it is important to understand the type of seizure that you are susceptible to. People with epilepsy may experience: 

a. Generalized Onset Seizures

Tonic-clonic: Tonic-clonic seizures happen in two phases. First, all the muscles in the body will stiffen. During this phase, air may be forced out of the body, causing the person to groan. The person may lose consciousness and bite their tongue. The second phase involves rapid jerking and bending of the arms, legs, and hips. [2] 

Absence: An absence seizure usually looks like a person is zoning out or spacing out. They may look off into the distance and hold an empty gaze. This type of seizure begins on both sides of the brain at the same time and is common in children. [3]

Atonic: An atonic seizure is characterized by the body becoming limp. This type of seizure usually causes the person to drop to the ground, which is why atonic seizures are often referred to as “drop attacks.” [4]

b. Focal Onset Seizures

Focal Aware: People who experience this type of seizure are fully awake during the entire duration of the event. Even though most are able to recall events afterward, most will seem frozen and distant during the event. [5]

Focal Impaired Awareness: Those who experience this type will exhibit involuntary movements such as hand-rubbing, lip-smacking, and chewing. A person’s awareness of their environment will be reduced, and they may not be able to respond until it is over. [6]

If you know what kind of seizure your epilepsy causes, you can better prepare for specific symptoms or involuntary movements. For example, you will be better able to decide if it is safe for you to be alone. Knowing the type of seizure that affects you can also help you better decide:

  • How often you need to see your doctor
  • Who in your life needs to know about your condition
  • What medication you need to take and its side effects  [1]

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Monitoring Your Patterns

Keeping track of your seizure history can help you to predict future occurrences with greater accuracy. Noting the side effects of your medications can help when it comes to reporting the effectiveness of your treatment plan to your doctor, but it can also help to identify your seizure triggers.

Epilepsy patients are traditionally told to keep a journal or a diary, but a smartphone app is much more capable and accessible nowadays. Regardless of the method, you are most comfortable with, it can help to record the details of your seizures and your medication intake. [1]

Utilizing Technology 

Monitoring your patterns can be made easier with the right technological tools. There are many smartwatches on the market catered to those who have epilepsy, with functions that include help-summoning and an alarm in the event it detects a seizure. Sleep activity monitors can also be useful to ensure you are getting an adequate amount of rest. [1]

Staying Active

Exercise is essential, especially if you have epilepsy. Exercises rarely trigger seizures, so people with epilepsy can safely play popular sports (water sports should be supervised). Those with seizure disorders may have to abstain from extreme sports like hang-gliding, free climbing, scuba-diving, or racing because a seizure during an extreme sport can cause fatal outcomes. As long as you do not overexert yourself, staying active will improve your immune system, muscle tone, and overall health, reducing your chance of seizures. [7]

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Stay Well-Rested 

One of the factors known to increase the frequency of seizures is fatigue. To ensure you are well-rested daily, a regular sleep schedule is essential. The number of hours may not be as important as the quality of sleep and the time of sleep. Those who work nights can upset their internal clocks and trigger a seizure, even if they get plenty of sleep during the day. Normal sleep-wake cycles must be upheld so that normal brain and hormonal activity may occur. [8]

On top of these coping guidelines, there are other things that can make living with epilepsy safer. For example, explore epilepsy-proofing your home so that you minimize the risk of serious injury in the event a seizure occurs. You may want to adopt new habits, like using the microwave instead of the stove when possible. This can make it safer to prepare meals at home.

Finally, those with epilepsy should always carry medical identification on their person at all times. Teach your close friends and family members about seizure first-aid techniques. This can help them understand and be a part of your life by learning and taking on challenges together. The preparation for the next seizure may always be necessary, but the anxiety surrounding it does not have to be.

The content in this article is intended for informational purposes only. This website does not provide medical advice. In all circumstances, you should always seek the advice of your physician and/or other qualified health professionals(s) for drug, medical condition, or treatment advice. The content provided on this website is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

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