Epilepsy Ireland News

13-01-2016 | Staying well this winter

13 January 2016
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Being ill can sometimes lead you to have more seizures or more intense seizures. Often this is due to high temperature and infection. Try to prevent illness where you can by keeping to a healthy lifestyle. Of course, you can't always avoid illness. If you feel unwell do speak to your pharmacist about what you can take to treat your symptoms.

There is some evidence that people with epilepsy, especially those with frequent seizures, are more prone to chest infections. For this reason it is important to seek prompt treatment and follow medical advice to avoid complications.

Some over the counter medicines like decongestants have been linked to seizures, especially those containing pseudo-ephedrine. 

When to see your GP

If you have an illness that isn't clearing up see your GP in case you need a prescription medication. Always ask if the prescription medication will be safe to use with your epilepsy medication.

Nausea and vomiting

If you have a stomach upset it can mean you don't absorb your anti-epileptic medication properly. Because of this the medication might not work so well as usual and you could have more seizures. If you vomit up your tablets soon after taking a dose you can take a repeat dose once the stomach upset has settled but only if you can actually see the tablets in the vomit. Where you don't see the tablets or an hour or more has passed since taking the drug, it would not be safe to repeat the dose. If you are unsure what to do speak to your pharmacist or specialist epilepsy nurse for advice.

Flu

Most people with epilepsy will not have a problem with getting the winter flu vaccine but it is best to check with your GP or specialist nurse first. Likewise most people with epilepsy will not have a problem with the H1N1 vaccine for Swine Flu either but again it is good to discuss this with the doctor giving the vaccine. Often the illnesses the vaccines prevent pose more of a risk than the vaccines themselves. 

Tips for staying well during winter

  • Keeping a healthy lifestyle reduces your risk of illness
  • Treat illness early
  • Ask your Pharmacist about what over the counter medicines are safe for you to use with your epilepsy medication
  • If your illness is not clearing up see your GP in case you need a prescription
  • During a cold snap keep warm by wearing extra layers of clothing if necessary
  • Take warm foods and drinks to maintain body temperature in cold weather
  • If your seizures increase or the pattern changes for any reason be sure to let your medical team know
  • Unguarded open fires and open bar/open element heaters which could be a source of flame are potential hazards in case of falls with loss of consciousness. Use secure fireguards and heaters which do not have the heating element exposed.
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