Epilepsy affects more than 500,000 people in the UK, and for these people and their families and friends, knowing what precautions to take and what to do in an emergency are important.
Seizure precautions and tips
- Always carry medical identification. If an emergency occurs, knowledge of your seizure disorder can help the people around you maintain your safety and provide the appropriate treatment.
- Make sure your family, friends and co-workers know what to do if you have a seizure.
- Avoid potential dangers of high places or moving machinery at home, school or work if you have active seizures. Though there is less risk if your seizures are under control, your attention should focus on the specific risks of certain activities (such as mowing, working around farm machinery, hot appliances, etc.).
- It is important for you to remain active, but participate in sports and other activities with caution. Avoid potentially dangerous activities, such as bathing, swimming, or mountain climbing without someone near by. Have another person with you who knows your seizure risk and is trained in life-saving techniques. Activities such as playing football, bike riding, canoeing, or horseback riding can be made safer by wearing helmets and/or life jackets and by having another person with you.
- If you are prescribed anticonvulsant medication, do not suddenly stop taking it or change the dosage without consulting your doctor. The type of anticonvulsant medication you are prescribed depends on the type of epilepsy you have, and the dose that is prescribed especially for you according to your weight, age, gender and other factors.
- Be alert to the risks of possible medicinal interactions between your anticonvulsant medications and other medications you may take, including over-the-counter medicines. Always seek the advice of your doctor or pharmacist before taking any medication if you are not sure what interactions could occur.
What should I do for a person who has a seizure?
If someone is having a seizure:
- Loosen clothing around the person's neck.
- Do not try to hold the person down or restrain him or her, this can result in injury.
- Do not insert any objects in the person's mouth; this can also cause injury.
- Reassure bystanders who may be panicking and ask them to give the person room.
- Remove sharp objects (glasses, furniture and other objects) from around the person to prevent injury.
- After the seizure, it is helpful to lay the person on his or her side to maintain an open airway and prevent the person from inhaling any secretions.
- After many seizures, there may be confusion for a period of time and the person should not be left alone.
- In many cases, especially if the person is known to have epilepsy, it is not necessary to call an ambulance. If the seizure lasts longer than five minutes, or if another seizure begins soon after the first, or if the person cannot be awakened after the movements have stopped, an ambulance should be called. If you are concerned that something else may be wrong, or the person has another medical condition such as heart disease or diabetes, you should seek medical advice immediately.