These factors can have a big impact on one’s susceptibility to seizures.
For any chronic condition, lifestyle habits can make a big difference in how the illness impacts a person’s life—and that’s true for epilepsy as well.
Epilepsy is a condition that causes episodes of abnormal electrical activity in the brain, which can cause recurrent epileptic seizures. Treatment for epilepsy involves taking medicine to control seizures, but there are also important lifestyle modifications that can significantly impact one’s susceptibility for seizures.
“Most doctors and patients have become very, very good at managing chronic illness to the point that people feel good, they’re productive, [and] they carry on long lives—and that’s really our goal,” says Padmaja Kandula, MD, a neurologist at Weill Cornell Medicine and NewYork-Presbyterian in New York City. “If it happens early on, people can not only manage their chronic problem, but really manage their lifestyle and prevent other chronic problems.”
Here are four important lifestyle habits to adopt if you have epilepsy:
1. Take your medication as prescribed. Anti-seizure medications work to prevent or stop seizures. These medications can be very effective—if taken as directed. “The main thing is taking the medication in a timely fashion and not missing doses,” says Dr. Kandula. “Some people are very sensitive. If the level drops during the day, they may have a seizure. So staying on a strict schedule is very important.”
2. Keep a seizure diary. A seizure diary can not only help you identify seizure triggers, but it can also help your doctor ensure that your medication is working. “It can be [as] simple as keeping an app on the phone,” says Dr. Kandula. You can also take down notes on your calendar or in a notebook.
Here are some items to log in your seizure diary:
Number of seizures
Type of seizures
Time of day you’re experiencing seizures
Time of month
Recent sleep quality
What you ate or drank
Any missed medicines or late doses
And your emotional state.
3. Manage stress levels. “Stress has a lot of effects for different parts of the body and the brain is definitely no exception,” says Dr. Kandula. “Indirectly, stress may cause seizures.” To keep stress levels in check, try deep-breathing or meditation, setting time aside for relaxation, limiting alcohol, and most importantly, getting enough sleep.
4. Get quality sleep. Not getting enough sleep—whether it’s because of stress or another reason—can irritate the brain, which can trigger a seizure, says Dr. Kandula. Aim to get seven to eight hours of quality sleep every night. Here are some tips to sleep better tonight.
If you feel like you can’t keep your seizures under control, it’s important to talk to your doctor. They can make changes to your treatment plan to help you better manage your epilepsy.
“The illness shouldn’t define the person, and the person has the ability to maneuver their lifestyle and make positive changes,” says Dr. Kandula.
Dr. Kandula is a neurologist specializing in seizures and epilepsy at Weill Cornell Medicine and NewYork-Presbyterian in New York City.
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Most doctors and
patients have become very,
00:00:05,048 --> 00:00:09,121
very good at managing chronic illness
to the point that people feel good,
00:00:09,121 --> 00:00:13,537
they're productive, they carry on long
lives, and that's really our goal.
00:00:13,537 --> 00:00:16,756
Even the common cold we don't
have a cure for, however,
00:00:16,756 --> 00:00:21,118
we have good management techniques,
and that's very similar to epilepsy or
00:00:21,118 --> 00:00:23,148
any other kind of chronic illness.
00:00:23,148 --> 00:00:29,026
00:00:29,026 --> 00:00:34,897
The main thing is taking the medication in
a timely fashion and not missing doses.
00:00:34,897 --> 00:00:38,106
Some people are very sensitive at
the level drops during the day.
00:00:38,106 --> 00:00:39,007
They may have a seizure.
00:00:39,007 --> 00:00:41,892
So staying on a strict
schedule is very important.
00:00:41,892 --> 00:00:44,161
The other thing that's very helpful and
00:00:44,161 --> 00:00:46,837
that is actually bringing
out a seizure diary.
00:00:46,837 --> 00:00:50,452
It can be a simple thing as
keeping an app on the phone and
00:00:50,452 --> 00:00:53,685
recording the number of seizures and
00:00:53,685 --> 00:00:56,807
If you're having the seizures
mainly at night, during the day,
00:00:56,807 --> 00:00:59,834
whether they're happening during
certain time of the month.
00:00:59,834 --> 00:01:05,564
It actually can help the physician figure
out how to manage your medication.
00:01:05,564 --> 00:01:09,784
Stress has a lot of effects for
different parts of the body and
00:01:09,784 --> 00:01:12,534
the brain is definitely no exception.
00:01:12,534 --> 00:01:14,616
Indirectly stress may cause seizures.
00:01:14,616 --> 00:01:18,946
If someone is stressed naturally, some
people have a difficult time sleeping.
00:01:18,946 --> 00:01:23,271
They may have anxiety, or someone can't
maintain good sleep because they're
00:01:23,271 --> 00:01:27,029
stressed and they can't sleep through
all the deep cycles of sleep.
00:01:27,029 --> 00:01:30,248
That also becomes another
irritant to the brain.
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We like to also look at it as a positive
way to change or modify lifestyle.
00:01:37,163 --> 00:01:41,744
And if it happens early on, people really
can not only manage their chronic problem
00:01:41,744 --> 00:01:45,485
but really manage your lifestyle
prevent other chronic problems.
00:01:45,485 --> 00:01:48,012
The illness shouldn't
define the person and
00:01:48,012 --> 00:01:52,684
the person has the ability to maneuver
their lifestyle and make positive changes.
00:01:52,684 --> 00:01:57,973
The Managing Epilepsy Well Network and Selected Self Management Programs. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (Accessed on December 4, 2019 at https://www.cdc.gov/epilepsy/pdfs/MEW-Final-Booklet-2016-508-final.pdf)
Importance of Preventing Seizures. Epilepsy Foundation. (Accessed on December 4, 2019 at https://www.epilepsy.com/learn/managing-your-epilepsy/understanding-seizures-and-emergencies/importance-preventing-seizures)Improve Your Seizure Control. Epilepsy Foundation. (Accessed on December 4, 2019 at https://www.epilepsy.com/sites/core/files/atoms/files/pg0L_MgngYrEp_09-2018%20%281%29.pdf)