You have epilepsy. People with epilepsy have seizures. A seizure is a sudden brief change in the electrical and chemical activity in the brain. The doctor gave you a physical and a nervous system examination and did some tests to find out the cause of your seizures.
Your doctor sent you home with medicines to help keep you from having more seizures. This is because the doctor concluded you were at continued risk of seizures. After you get home, your doctor may still need to change the dosage of your seizure drugs or add new medicines. This may be because your seizures are not controlled, or you are having side effects.
You should get plenty of sleep and try to keep as regular a schedule as possible. Try to avoid too much stress.
Make sure your home is safe to help prevent injuries if a seizure takes place:
Most people with seizures can have a very active lifestyle. You should still plan ahead for the possible dangers of a certain activity. DO NOT do any activity during which loss of consciousness would be dangerous. Wait until it is clear that seizures are unlikely to occur. Safe activities include:
There should always be a lifeguard or buddy present when you go swimming. Wear a helmet during bike riding, skiing, and similar activities. Ask your doctor about participation in contact sports. Avoid activities during which having a seizure would put you or someone else in danger.
Wear a medical alert bracelet. Tell family members, friends, and the people you work with about your seizure disorder.
Driving your own car is generally safe and legal once the seizures are controlled. State laws vary. You can get information about your state law from your doctor and the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).
Never stop taking seizure medicines without talking with your doctor. DO NOT stop taking your seizure medicines just because your seizures have stopped.
Tips for taking your seizure medicines:
If you miss a dose:
Drinking alcohol or doing illegal drugs can cause seizures.
Your health care provider will tell you when you need to check the blood level of your seizure drug. Seizure drugs have side effects. If you started taking a new drug recently, or your doctor changed the dosage of your seizure drug, these side effects may go away. Always ask your doctor about the side effects you may have and how to manage them.
Many seizure medicines can weaken the strength of your bones (Osteoporosis). Ask your doctor about how to reduce the risk of osteoporosis through exercise and vitamin and mineral supplements.
For women during childbearing years:
Once a seizure starts, there is no way to stop it. Family members and caregivers can only help make sure you are safe from further injury. They can also call for help, if needed.
When a seizure starts, family members or caregivers should try to keep you from falling. They should help you to the ground, in a safe area. They should clear the area of furniture or other sharp objects. Caregivers should also:
Things your friends and family members should not do:
Call your doctor if you have:
Call 911 if:
Focal seizure - discharge; Jacksonian seizure - discharge; Seizure - partial (focal) - discharge; TLE - discharge; Seizure - temporal lobe - discharge; Seizure - tonic-clonic - discharge; Seizure - grand mal - discharge; Grand mal seizure - discharge; Seizure - generalized - discharge
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French JA, Pedley TA. Clinical practice. Initial management of epilepsy. N Engl J Med. 2008;359:166-176. PMID: 18614784 Available at: www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18614784.
Harden CL, Pennell PB, Koppel BS, Hovinga CA, Gidal B, Meador KJ, et al. Practice parameter update: management issues for women with epilepsy--focus on pregnancy (an evidence-based review): vitamin K, folic acid, blood levels, and breastfeeding: report of the Quality Standards Subcommittee and Therapeutics and Technology Assessment Subcommittee of the American Academy of Neurology and American Epilepsy Society. Neurology. 2009 Jul14;73(2):142-149. Epub 2009 Apr 27. PMID:19398680 Available at: www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19398680.
Perucca E, Tomson T. The pharmacological treatment of epilepsy in adults. Lancet Neurol. 2011;10:446-456. PMID: 21511198 Available at: www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21511198.
Updated by: Joseph V. Campellone, MD, Department of Neurology, Cooper University Hospital, Camden, NJ. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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