Epilepsy and Lifestyle Changes

July 4, 2013

When you are diagnosed with epilepsy you go through a full range of emotions to me it’s the same as the stages of grief you have denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance. You feel or experience perhaps a few of these or all of them. You question everything and want answers for everything. There is no known cure so until then you have to make the necessary lifestyle changes in order to help manage daily living. Seizures are not prevented by lifestyle changes alone, but you can make changes that not only improve your life but give you a sense of control.

There are a few things you can do to help make these lifestyle changes and you can start by avoiding epilepsy triggers. Even though there is not a known or specific cause for seizures– certain events and things can trigger them so what you need to avoid are the following:

  • Lack of Sleep
  • Food Allergies.
  • Alcohol and Smoking
  • Recreational Drugs
  • Flashing Lights
  • Stress

Granted, these triggers are not going to be the same for everyone. It may take a period of adjustment for you to help recognize just what your triggers are (especially if the seizures are not occurring frequently.) With that being said, it is important to note that you cannot assume that all seizures are due to lifestyle either. Always consult your doctor if you continue to have more and more seizures, because that is when they can determine what options are best for you in regards to your medical care and management of epilepsy.

Another important lifestyle change that often times is the subject of much discussion and also frustration is driving. If you have epilepsy, you will be able have a driver’s license or a learner’s permit as long as your seizures are well controlled. Each circumstance is different and each state in which you reside is different when it comes to the laws of driving and epilepsy.

Here in Florida where I currently reside the laws are as follows:
1. Applicants and licensed drivers should be seizure free for a period of two years before being approved for licensing; but, if under regular medical supervision, may apply at the end of six months for review by the Medical Advisory Board. “Petit mal” or absence seizures and partial seizures with complex symptomatology will also follow these guidelines. The isolated seizure with a normal electroencephalogram may be reviewed at the end of three months.

2. Applicants and licensed drivers who have been approved after six months seizure free may be required to submit follow-up reports at the end of one year from date of approval.

3. Applicants and licensed drivers who have had a chronic recurring seizure disorder (or have been treated for such for one year) and medications have been discontinued will not be licensed to drive during the period of drug with-drawl and for a period of three months following complete cessation of treatment. If the patient has seizures during this period, licensing may be considered after a three-month seizure free interval upon return to adequate therapy.

4. If there is a question about the seizure type or the medication the applicant or licensed driver is on, it is the prerogative of the Medical Board to question the treating physician further in an effort to clarify the nature of the seizures.

5. Blood levels below therapeutic levels are to be considered on an individual basis.

6. Applicants and licensed drivers with only chronic nocturnal seizures will be considered on an individual basis.

7. Applicants and licensed drivers with syncopal episodes who have no clear diagnosis established will be considered on an individual basis.

Again, each state is different so check with your local DMV for rules and regulations. What you have to remember is that, in driving, because you don’t know when you will have a seizure, it not only puts your life at risk but also that of others on the road. As much as an inconvenience as it is not having the ability or freedom to drive and having others drive you here and there the alternative of what could happen should you cause an accident will likely be far more damaging than the simple inconvenience you feel.

Maintaining a balanced, healthy lifestyle will not completely prevent seizures from happening but it’s not a death sentence either. Whatever your age, you will be wondering how best to manage this new challenge. Learning as much as you can about your own epilepsy will help you to feel more confident about managing your daily living. A wide range of information and support is available so reach out and ask TALK ABOUT IT!!!


About Susan Noble and Epilepsy Warriors

courtyardAs President and Founder of the Epilepsy Warriors Susan Noble is striving to reach as many people within the local communities to help educate and bring an end to the stigma of Epilepsy. It takes team work. It involves supporting each other in all efforts. It means showing the world that Epilepsy is worth researching, fighting for, and funding. We are all fighting for a CURE for our children and those “Living with Epilepsy” every day. We are a new foundation one with a passionate vision. This vision will light our path, and guide us towards our goals of “enlightening, empowering and curing.”

Susan and her family reside in Fort Myers, Florida otherwise known as her little slice of paradise. You can reach out to Susan for information about the Foundation or on Epilepsy at [email protected]

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