Epilepsy and Seizure Disorders

Epilepsy and Seizure DisordersEpilepsy is a disorder that affects the normal activity of the brain which then causes seizures.  Seizures can present in many ways such as strange sensations, emotions, behavior, convulsions, muscle spasms, and loss of consciousness.  Seizures can last anywhere from a few seconds to several minutes.  There are many types of seizures with many possible causes. Having a single seizure as the result of a high fever (called febrile seizure) or head injury does not necessarily mean that a person has epilepsy. Only when a person has had two or more seizures is he or she considered to have epilepsy.

If you are living with epilepsy/seizure disorder, you can increase your chances for successful treatment by doing the following:

  • Take your medication exactly as directed, at the right times, and at the right doses.
  • Ask what side effects you can expect and what to do about them. If you develop side effects, don't stop taking your anti-seizure medication without first speaking to your healthcare provider.
  • Be careful not to let your prescription run out. Stopping anti-seizure medication abruptly can put you at risk of seizure.
  • While taking an anti-seizure medication, do not start taking any other medications including over-the-counter medications and herbal supplements without first checking with your healthcare provider. Anti-seizure medication can interact with prescriptions, over-the-counter medications, and herbal supplements, so mixing them can be dangerous.
  • Keep a record of seizures as they occur and bring this information to your doctor visits. It might be helpful to note any triggers such as being stressed, sleep deprived, or (if you are a woman) had your period.
  • Keep your appointments with your healthcare provider to make sure that your medication is effective, your body is handling your medications well, and that your medication is at the right level for your body and seizure control.
  • Make sure that you are also taking care of your general health by eating healthy, maintaining a healthy weight, getting sufficient rest, and engaging in physical activity regularly.

If you support someone who has epilepsy, please make sure that:

  • You assist the person as needed to follow their seizure management plan (healthy lifestyle, medications, doctor visits, etc.).
  • You receive education about seizure first aid.
  • You know when you need to call emergency services or 911.
  • You keep track of seizures and ensure that this information is given to the person’s health care provider.

Remember that each person is different.  The type of seizure activity and the cause can vary greatly; so will the treatment.  Know the person you may be helping and their specific treatment plan.  Support and encourage the person to stay healthy and follow their plan to decrease or eliminate their seizures.

For more information go to https://www.pchc.org/images/PDFs/HPAPs/Seizure%20Disorder.pdf to see the Seizure Disorder Health Promotion Activity Plan (HPAP).

References and Resources:

Epilepsy Foundation of Eastern Pennsylvania


Medline Plus


National Institutes of Health