Epilepsy Awareness Program - Living and Managing with Epilepsy
living with epilepsy can be difficult for some people, that is way managing epilepsy can evolve as the master alternative and solution, but it is not just about taking medication only, It is also important for you to look after your health, monitor your epilepsy and your response to medication and take care to stay safe. Getting involved in your care in this way can help you feel more in control of your epilepsy so that you stay well and continue your life.
People with epilepsy can live normal lives. Many athletes, authors, politicians, entrepreneurs, doctors, parents, and artists have epilepsy. Epilepsy can put a strain on families. So each member of the family needs to understand what epilepsy is, how it’s treated, and what to expect. Families can be a great source of support for someone with epilepsy–but it might take some work. Encourage all members of your family to learn as much as they can.
Epilepsy is a general term for conditions with recurring seizures. There are many kinds of seizures, but all involve abnormal electrical activity in the brain that causes an involuntary change in body movement or function, sensation, awareness, or behavior.
Epilepsy is a chronic condition that requires careful monitoring and attention to your health. While the seizures can be managed with the right medications, having epilepsy can be overwhelming at times.
Epilepsy is the most common serious neurological condition seen in primary care. Frequently, its management and patients' experience is less than ideal. With effective management, high percentage of those with active epilepsy can become seizure free, but currently only about half are seizure free. It is therefore valuable for people with epilepsy, their family, friends and carers to understand the many aspects of this disorder to improve their chances in obtaining seizure control.
With regular medication and a sensible lifestyle a full and active life is possible.
If you have epilepsy, you can still become involved in extracurricular activities.Your doctor will give you instructions about taking precautions to protect yourself in various situations. For example, teens with epilepsy can enjoy swimming, but should always swim with other people to be safe.
Tell the people close to you, your friends, relatives, teachers, workmates, classmates, colleagues about your epilepsy and teach them what to do in case you have a seizure when they’re with you.
Since seizures are unpredictability in terms of their nature, timing, severity and the situations in which they can occur, can cause social difficulties. Taking an active role in managing your own epilepsy is an important part of coping successfully.
Epilepsy and Workplace
Epilepsy affects people in different ways, therefore people with epilepsy can be found in most occupations, with or without reasonable adjustment. However, there are some jobs which, for health and safety reasons, may not be suitable for a person who is still having seizures and medical advice should be sought on whether it is safe for the individual to undertake these duties. These include working:
• at unprotected heights
• near open water
• with high voltage or open circuit electricity
• with unguarded apparatus or machines
• on or near moving vehicles
• with chemicals, unguarded fires, ovens and hot plates
• on isolated sites.
( Note: If a person’s seizures stop, these restrictions may no longer apply )
In the workplace there are various factors that would assist people with epilepsy to manage their condition. These include changes to work tasks and the environment, such as:
• drive work vehicles only if medically certified to do so.
• if having difficulty with memory, use memory aids such as job task boards, lists, task cards, computer prompts or alarms such as watches or timers
• build in time for breaks at work to avoid fatigue which can trigger seizures
• consider the appropriateness of shiftwork if seizures are affected by fatigue
• if needing to travel interstate or overseas, ensure medical documentation of condition, treatment requirements and medications (if used) are taken.
For people with epilepsy that is uncontrolled, the following may also be required:
• removing sharp corners and adding padding to the edges of workstations along with the addition of anti-fatigue matting or carpet to hard floors to reduce risk of injury in the event of a seizure
• avoid the use of or working around unguarded machinery or tools which could cause injury in the event of a seizure
• avoid working from heights such as on scaffolding or ladders, around bodies of water or the use of firearms to reduce risk of injury in the event of a seizure.
Most children with epilepsy go to normal schools. Children with epilepsy do not have any other disability, and the seizures are well controlled. You should inform the principal and teachers about the problem, most teachers will understand the correct use of medication and will not hesitate to do their best if the child has an attack.
Sport and leisure
Epilepsy is not a disease that has limitations for active and normal life. Patients can and should participate in most sports, but with informed and qualified supervision and, relevant safety measures where required.
As long as you have medication with you during your travels it is fine. Try to keep journeys short, break it up and do not tire yourself as that may make more prone to a seizure. Also when flying, ‘Jet–lag’ may make you tired. But this should not stop you from travelling. Ideally you should travel with someone or that someone on the trip is aware of your situation.
Tips for living with epilepsy
Make sure you get at least 8 hours of sleep everyday. Lack of sleep is known to trigger epilepsy.
Take your antiepileptic medicines at a regular time everyday as specified by your doctor.
Fasting is OUT! Eat proper, balanced meals and drink at least 6–8 glasses of water per day to maintain hydration.
Infections are often associated with worsening of seizures, especially if associated with fever.
Do not work on the computer for too long at a stretch. Take adequate breaks.
Too much television viewing is dangerous too. Certain patterns and colors are known to trigger epilepsy. In fact just, a Japanese Children’s TV program was discontinued when it triggered epilepsy in 9 children.
Do not take over the counter medicines for cold as they may contain ephedrine & pseudoephedrine, Known to be triggers.
Certain drugs are known to aggravate seizures – It is best to avoid chlorpromazine, quinolone group of antibiotics (ciprofloxacin), stimulants, etc. Your doctor will be able to guide you if you have any doubts about your medicines, food, etc.
*- Better Health Channel 2009, Epilepsy – seizures explained, State Government of Victoria, Melbourne, viewed 17 May 2010, <http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/Epilepsy_seizures_explained?open>.
*- Epilepsy Action 2010, Epilepsy information – Employment, British Epilepsy Association, Leeds, viewed 17 May 2010, <http://www.epilepsy.org.uk/info/employment.html>.
*- Epilepsy Action Australia 2001-2008, Driving, Epilepsy Association, Sydney, viewed 17 May 2010, <http://www.epilepsy.org.au/driving.asp>.
*- Epilepsy Action Australia 2001-2008, Employers, Epilepsy Action, Sydney, viewed 17 May 2010, <http://www.epilepsy.org.au/employers.asp>.
*- The National Society for Epilepsy 2008, Employment, The National Society for Epilepsy, London, viewed 17 May 2010,http://www.epilepsysociety.org.uk/AboutEpilepsy/Livingwithepilepsy/Employment/Employees.
*- Epilepsy support group: http://epilepsysupport.aarogya.com/epilepsy/living-with-epilepsy
*- Live beyond epilepsy: http://www.livebeyondepilepsy.com/managing-epilepsy/managing-your-epilepsy
*- Job Access - Australian Government Initiative: http://www.jobaccess.gov.au/Advice/JobRequirement/Pages/Managing_epilepsy.aspx
See Also: Neurophysiology Health Corner
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