Ask the Expert

Answered By:


Lisa Morris Bonsall, MSN, RN, CRNP

Lisa Morris Bonsall, MSN, RN, CRNP is the clinical editor for Lippincott's NursingCenter.com. Lisa has been a nurse for 15 years with experience in critical care and women’s health.

Q:

I had a seizure. What can I do to help prevent more seizures?

A: 

A seizure is abnormal electrical activity in your brain, commonly caused by epilepsy. Some seizures make your arms and legs shake uncontrollably, while others may cause you to simply stare unresponsively into space. Most seizures last a short time—a few seconds to several minutes—but they can be scary when they occur.

Slightly less than half (47 percent) of people diagnosed with epilepsy become seizure-free with the first AED they try. However, about 70 percent of people eventually attain seizure control with the right anti-epileptic drug (AED) or combination of drugs. Doctors try to prevent seizures with a single medication, if possible, but a combination may be required, particularly if you have more than one type of seizure.

A number of medications are used to treat epilepsy, so you may need to work with your health care provider to find the right AED or combination of AEDs for you. The best way to control seizures is to take your AED as directed.

Other treatment approaches include vagus nerve stimulation, a special diet and brain surgery. These treatments usually are reserved for when medications aren't controlling seizures.

In addition, lifestyle changes may help control seizures. Here are a few:

  • Get enough sleep.
  • Avoid alcohol.
  • Learn relaxation techniques, such as yoga or meditation.
  • Limit your exposure to stimulating environments that involve fast eye movements such as computer or electronic games, fast-paced TV shows and movies and flashing holiday lights.
  • Minimize stress.
  • Eat a balanced diet.
  • Exercise regularly (ask your health care professional which activities are right for you).

It is also important to take certain steps to help ensure your safety, in case you have a seizure. Primarily, avoid swimming, bathing, or cooking alone and climbing to high places.

If you have a strange sensation or other warning signs that you're going to have a seizure, immediately lie down in a safe place. And don't forget to call your health care provider after the seizure ends. An adjustment in your medication may help prevent more seizures.

Learn more about living well with epilepsy by visiting www.HealthyWomen.org/epilepsy and EpilepsyAdvocate.com.

This program is sponsored by UCB, Inc.