Living with epilepsy presents unique challenges. For most people with this condition, the goal is to be seizure free with minimal side effects. That's why it's important to work with your health care team to find a treatment plan that is right for you. Below are 10 tips that may help you to live well with epilepsy.
1. Keep an "epilepsy diary." Grab a pen and paper, go online or use your smart phone to keep track of:
- Seizures—when they occur, what happens, what you're doing, if you experience strange sensations before they occur, where you are in your menstrual cycle—anything that will help you and your health care provider better understand your unique "seizure profile."
- Medications side effects—Does the time you take your medications impact your side effects? Are you experiencing any new side effects or changes in side effects?
- Changes in how you feel physically and emotionally.
2. Make the most of your appointments.
- Share your epilepsy diary with you health care provider.
- Work with him or her to make improvements in your treatment.
- Speak up when you think you need a different type dosage of medication to get the best control of your seizures.
- Make sure you are discussing side effects of medications with your doctors.
3. Build a health care team. Build a health care team that includes your doctors, nurses, pharmacist and caregivers. If you are having difficulty controlling your seizures, you may want to see a physician who specializes in epilepsy, called an epileptologist.
4. Follow directions. Take your medication as prescribed, and don't stop taking it without first talking with your health care provider. Also check your prescriptions when you pick them up from the pharmacy to ensure they are correct.
5. Get plenty of sleep. Sleep deprivation is a well-known "trigger" for seizures, even among people who otherwise have good seizure control, so get lots of rest on a regular schedule.
6. Avoid alcohol. Alcohol may interfere with your medication, and research shows that large amounts of alcohol are thought to raise the risk of seizures and may even cause them.
7. Learn relaxation techniques. Stress can be a precipitating factor in seizures, so developing a daily meditative practice or participating in yoga might help.
8. Unplug. Monitor your time playing computer or electronic games. For some people, long exposure to the flickering lights can potentially trigger seizures.
9. Stay active. Participating in daily exercise can help you to feel more positive, while allowing you to maintain a healthy weight and build self-esteem. If you find that getting overheated or physically tired triggers seizures, then avoid exercising in high temperatures, take lots of breaks and drink plenty of water. Avoid swimming, hiking, rock climbing and most contact sports to prevent being placed in dangerous situations.
10. Find support. Consider joining a support group to meet other women who have epilepsy. By keeping the dialogue going on epilepsy, you're opening the door to hear about other women's stories and coping methods.
Learn more about living well with epilepsy by visiting EpilepsyAdvocate.com.