Epilepsy – Seizure triggers and how to treat them!

In the UK there are over 600,000 people with Epilepsy. It is a diagnosed medical condition that may lead to seizures. It can be a life long condition but if you go without having a seizure for a long enough period of time, a doctor may consider that you no longer have it.

 

What causes Epilepsy

Millions of electrical signals are happening in our brain all the time. A seizure happens when there is a sudden intense burst of electrical activity. This causes a temporary disruption to the way the brain normally works, mixing up the brains messages. What happens to each individual when they are having a seizure depends on where in the brain the sudden burst of electrical activity started and how widely and quickly it spreads. There are many different types of seizure and each person will experience epilepsy in their own individual way.

 

Sometimes the reason Epilepsy develops is quite straight forward. It could be brain damage from a difficult birth, a severe blow to the head, a Stroke or an infection of the brain like Meningitis. Unfortunately not everyone diagnosed with Epilepsy know what causes it, in fact 6 out of 10 people don’t know what causes their Epilepsy.

 

Common Seizure Triggers

There are some things that make seizures more likely for some people, these are called Triggers. Triggers don’t cause Epilepsy but can make it more common for someone to have a seizure. Not everyone will have triggers and someones individual triggers may be different for different people.
 
Some common seizure triggers are….

  • Not taking prescribed Epilepsy medication
  • Feeling tired
  • Interrupted sleep patterns
  • Stress
  • Alcohol
  • Flashing or flickering lights
  • Missing meals
  • Hormone changes
  • Feeling anxious or depressed

Seizures can take on many different forms but the most common are Tonic-Clonic and Focal (partial) seizures.

 

Tonic-Clonic Seizures

The person will go stiff, loose consciousness and fall to the ground. Once on the ground they will make jerking movements (sometimes violent), their lips may go blue due to irregular breathing and there maybe a loss of bowel and / or bladder movements. These types of seizures usually last only a few minutes (although they can last a lot longer) and consciousness will return slowly.

 
Treatment Do’s & Don’ts

  • DO! – Protect the person from injury by moving objects out of their way
  • DON’T! – Restrain the persons movements!!
  • DO! – Cushion their head
  • DON’T! – Put anything in their mouth!!
  • DO! – Look for an Epilepsy ID card / Jewellery
  • DON’T! – Move them unless they are in danger!!
  • DO! – Place them into the Recovery Position once the seizure has stopped
  • DON’T! – Give them anything to eat or drink until they are fully recovered!!
  • DO! – Be calm and reassuring
  • DON’T! – Attempt to bring them round!!
  • DO! – Stay with them until recovery is complete

Call for an ambulance if….

  • It’s the persons first seizure!
  • The seizure continues for more than 5 minutes!
  • The person has another seizure without gaining consciousness!
  • The person is injured!

Have a look at the great video below by Epilepsy Action for a more visual way of treating a Tonic-Clonic seizure.
 

 

Focal (partial) Seizures

The person looks like they are day dreaming. They may not be aware of their surroundings or what they are doing. They may pluck at their clothes, smack their lips, swallow repeatedly or wander around in a confused state.

 
Treatment Do’s & Don’ts

  • DO! – Guide them from danger
  • DON’T! – Restrain the person!!
  • DO! – Explain anything that they may have missed
  • DON’T! – Shout at them or do anything that may frighten them!!
  • DO! – Look for an Epilepsy ID card / Jewellery
  • DON’T! – Assume they know what is happening!!
  • DO! – Stay with them until recovery is complete
  • DON’T! – Give them anything to eat or drink until they are fully recovered!!
  • DO! – Be calm and reassuring
  • DON’T! – Attempt to bring them round!!

Call for an ambulance if….

  • It’s the persons first seizure!
  • The seizure continues for more than 5 minutes!
  • The person is injured!
Seizures in wheelchairs

Here are some guidelines on how to treat a person who is having a seizure in a wheelchair.

  • Put the brakes on to stop the chair from moving
  • Allow the person to remain seated in the chair during the seizure, moving them could possibly lead to injuries to them and / or you
  • If the person has a seatbelt or harness on leave it fastened. If not, support them gently so they don’t fall out of the chair
  • Cushion the person’s head and support it gently

The “don’ts” are exactly the same as above!!!
 
For more information about Epilepsy and seizures please visit the Epilepsy Action website or contact us with any questions you may have!

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