4 Ways to Manage Recurring Seizures and Avoid Sudden Death
Prevention & Treatment Deaths from epilepsy can be sudden. Whether it's the right medication, or the right amount of sleep, understanding seizure management practices will help reduce the risk.
Every year, nearly 3,000 people in the U.S. die from sudden unexpected death in epilepsy (SUDEP). Good seizure management is critical in reducing a person’s risk of dying from SUDEP.
These are four key seizure management behaviors for people with epilepsy that may reduce their risk of SUDEP.
1. Get enough sleep
While taking your meds as prescribed is crucial, knowing and staying on top of what triggers your seizures is also critical. Lack of sleep is a common seizure trigger. Everyone needs different amount of sleep, but the recommended amount for adults is 7 to 8 hours. Children require 10 to 12 hours and teenagers need 9 to 10 hours. Find the number of hours you need each night to feel rested.
2. Take medications as prescribed
Medication to control seizures, sometimes called anti-epileptic drugs or anti-seizure drugs, can control epilepsy for 7 out of 10 people with epilepsy. Medication must be taken on schedule because the brain relies on a constant supply to help remain seizure-free. Setting up a daily alarm is one method to remember to take medications on time. If side effects are preventing you from taking your medication, speak with your health provider on alternative treatment options. Do not give up until you find a medication that you can take comfortably and reduces your seizures.
3. Limit alcohol
A recent survey shows 2 out of 5 people with epilepsy avoid alcohol. Seizure medicines make a person intoxicated faster because they reduce an individuals’ tolerance to alcohol. Intoxicated people with epilepsy are at a high risk for seizures. To avoid alcohol-related seizures, either practice abstinence or avoid binge drinking. Before you go out, set a drink limit and stick to it.
4. Strive to stop seizures
While zero seizures is the ideal, it is not possible for everyone living with epilepsy. In addition to following the previous behaviors, it’s recommended that all people with epilepsy visit an epilepsy specialist, or epileptologist, to discuss their treatment. A specialist can provide guidance on treatment options as well as connect people with epilepsy to clinical trials.