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While medication and other treatments can help many people with epilepsy control their seizures, the condition can impact daily life for both those affected by the disease and their loved ones. Find out what precautions you can take to help manage your epilepsy and live a more active life.

Since medication can help many people control their seizures, most jobs are open to people with epilepsy. However, you may not be preferred for work that involves using heavy machinery or sharp instruments, working at heights or doing things that might endanger other people, such as being a pilot or driver.1

Most children with epilepsy can go to mainstream schools. Be sure to make teachers aware of your child’s condition and what to do in the event of a seizure. Some children with epilepsy may have other disabilities that could require special schooling.1

People with epilepsy can participate in most sports and leisure activities by taking a few safety precautions. For example, you can go swimming, but you should take a good swimmer with you and notify a lifeguard about your condition if there is one.1

When traveling, it’s a good idea to pack extra epilepsy medicine in case yours is lost, or stolen or your return home gets unexpectedly delayed. If you have to make a long journey across time zones, the lack of sleep and fatigue might trigger a seizure. That’s why it’s best to travel with someone who is familiar with your condition.2

Pregnancy affects every woman differently. However, for most women with epilepsy, pregnancy doesn’t make their condition any better or worse. Some epilepsy medications may contribute to infertility or cause birth defects. So if you’re trying to become pregnant, it’s important to talk to your doctor.

In addition, some epilepsy medication reduces the effectiveness of hormonal contraceptives, so it’s best to work with your doctor to find the right birth control option for you.3

Some people with epilepsy find that certain triggers make a seizure more likely. Some common triggers reported by people with epilepsy include:4

  • Missing a dose of epilepsy medication
  • Stress or anxiety
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Lack of sleep or tiredness
  • Skipping meals
  • Flickering or flashing lights
  • Menstruation

Keeping a seizure diary can help you identify and, if possible, avoid the triggers that apply to you.

It is a good idea to tell people close to you—such as friends, relatives, work colleagues and school teachers—what to expect in the event you have a seizure. If your type of epilepsy causes temporary loss of consciousness, they may want to learn about the recovery position.1

If you have seizures, the tips below may help you anticipate and avoid potential serious injury:5

COOKING: Using a microwave is safer than a conventional oven, hotplate, kettle or anything with an open flame. If you do use an oven, place pans on the back burners and turn handles to the side so you can’t knock them over. And, take the plate to a hot pan, rather than taking the pan to the plate.

BATHING: Showers are safer than baths. If you do take a bath, keep the water shallow, turn the water off before you get in and leave the door unlocked. You should never bathe a baby alone.

ELECTRICAL TOOLS AND APPLIANCES: Try to use electrical tools and appliances with an automatic shut-off feature.

HEIGHTS: Place safety gates at the top of stairs and avoid climbing on chairs or ladders, especially if you are alone.

FURNITURE AND DECOR: To help ensure a softer landing if you fall, cover sharp furniture with safety guards and install cushioned flooring around your home. Good flooring options include carpets, rugs, cork, linoleum and rubber.

GLASS: Consider fitting glass doors and low windows with safety glass.

Sometimes, attitudes towards the condition may be more disabling than the condition itself. If you’re having difficulty coming to terms with your diagnosis or feeling anxious or depressed about your condition, you may want to ask your doctor about counseling.1


1. Patient.co.uk. Living with Epilepsy. http://www.patient.co.uk/pdf/4447.pdf. Accessed August 20, 2014.
2. British Epilepsy Association. Travel Advice for People with Epilepsy. https://www.epilepsy.org.uk/info/travelling-abroad. Accessed August 20, 2014.
3. Mayo Clinic. Epilepsy and Pregnancy: What You Need to Know. http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/pregnancy-week-by-week/in-depth/pregnancy/art-20048417. Accessed August 20, 2014.
4. British Epilepsy Association. Some Common Seizure Triggers. https://www.epilepsy.org.uk/info/triggers. Accessed August 20, 2014.
5. British Epilepsy Association. Safety Advice for People with Epilepsy. https://www.epilepsy.org.uk/info/safety. Accessed August 20, 2014.

Information provided is for general background purposes and is not intended as a substitute for medical diagnosis or treatment by a trained professional. You should always consult your physician about any healthcare questions you may have, especially before trying a new medication, diet, fitness program, or approach to healthcare issues.
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