National Epilepsy Awareness Month: Epilepsy is a disorder characterized by uncontrolled seizures. An estimated 3 million Americans suffer from epilepsy, accounting for roughly 1 percent of the total United States population.
This November is National Epilepsy Awareness Month, an annual campaign sponsored by the Epilepsy Foundation. This year’s theme, #AimForZero, is encouraging people to adopt four healthy behaviors:
Many cases of epilepsy are not preventable. However, these four self-management tips can make living with epilepsy a little easier and may help reduce the risk of sudden unexpected death in epilepsy (SUDEP).
Epilepsy does not define you. However, it is important to make appropriate lifestyle changes to accommodate your chronic disorder. Here are three tips for living with epilepsy:
National Epilepsy Awareness Month- Lifestyle Tip #1: AVOID TRIGGERS
Triggers are factors that may provoke the onset of a seizure. Certain patients with epilepsy are photosensitive, meaning exposure to flashing lights or certain patterns may induce a seizure. Alcohol withdrawal and sleep deprivation are also commonly associated with seizures. Be sure to keep a journal to record, track, and manage your seizures. This can help you recognize triggers that are unique to you so you can avoid them in the future.
National Epilepsy Awareness Month- Lifestyle Tip #2: DIET
Those affected by epilepsy are often prescribed antiepileptic drugs (AEDs). While AEDs can help prevent or reduce the risk of seizures, they may also disturb vitamin and mineral levels in a patient. AEDs can negatively impact calcium, magnesium, and sodium levels, as well as Vitamin D, which help maintain bone strength. To offset these deficiencies, doctors recommend eating a well balanced diet with a variety of healthy foods. Also, ask your doctor to regularly monitor your vitamin and mineral levels, so you can make any necessary changes in your diet to accommodate your specific needs.
National Epilepsy Awareness Month- Lifestyle Tip #3: EXERCISE
Exercise and physical activity can help reduce the frequency of seizures. Studies show that abnormalities found in patients suffering from epilepsy decrease during exercise. Exercise can also combat depression and promote good sleep hygiene. Having a seizure while exercising is very rare, however it is important that a patient is monitored at all times. Never let a patient swim unattended and make sure the exercise area has cushioned flooring so they are protected if they collapse.