• Epilepsy affects 3.4 million Americans and can cause debilitating physical, cognitive, and psychological issues.
• Getting 7-9 hours of sleep per night, reducing stress levels, avoiding triggers, eating healthily, and exercising all help reduce seizure frequency.
• There is currently no cure for epilepsy, but lifestyle changes and medications can help manage the condition.
• Participating in research studies can help scientists better understand the condition and potentially lead to improved treatments.
Epilepsy, characterized by recurrent seizures, is a chronic neurological disorder that affects 3.4 million Americans. It can cause debilitating physical, cognitive, and psychological issues for those who suffer from it. If you or someone you know has epilepsy, then you know it can be unpredictable and potentially dangerous. Thankfully, several lifestyle changes can help manage seizures and reduce their frequency.
Importance of Lifestyle Change
Lifestyle changes can be an important part of managing epilepsy. Research has found that lifestyle interventions effectively reduce the frequency of seizures. Additionally, lifestyle changes can improve the overall quality of life for those with epilepsy. Making positive changes to your lifestyle can help reduce stress levels and manage symptoms more effectively.
Here are a few lifestyle changes that can help manage epilepsy:
Get Plenty of Restful Sleep
Getting enough restful sleep is essential for everyone, especially those with epilepsy. Regularly getting 7-9 hours of sleep per night helps reduce seizure frequency by allowing your brain to take a break from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and relax. Additionally, avoid sleeping past your regular wake-up time on weekends, as this disrupts your body’s internal clock and can increase seizure activity.
Reduce Stress Levels
Stress is one of the most common triggers for epileptic seizures. So it’s important to do what you can to reduce stress levels and minimize the risk of a seizure. There are plenty of ways to reduce stress levels, such as exercise, mindfulness activities like yoga or meditation, spending time outside in nature, journaling, or talking to a therapist or support group about any issues you may be facing. It may also be helpful to organize your life so that you feel more in control; set up reminders on your phone or computer to help keep track of appointments and tasks so that they don’t pile up later.
Certain things can trigger seizures in people who have epilepsy; these triggers vary widely from person to person but could include overexertion during physical activity, emotional stress, alcohol or drug use (prescription or otherwise), flashing lights (such as those found in strobe lighting or television screens), certain scents/odors, missing medications/changing dose without consulting doctor first, etc.
Knowing what triggers your seizures will allow you to plan and avoid situations where those triggers are present. If avoidance isn’t possible (i.e., if someone must attend a party with strobe lighting), then wearing sunglasses can help reduce the risk of having a seizure due to flashing lights. You can also keep medications handy at all times, just in case a seizure does occur.
Eat Healthily & Exercise
Eating healthily and exercising regularly helps maintain overall health, benefiting people with epilepsy too! Eating nutritious foods such as fruits and vegetables while avoiding processed sugars is always beneficial. Additionally, try eating smaller meals throughout the day instead of two large meals. This helps keep blood sugar levels stable, reducing the risk of seizures due to sudden spikes/drops in blood sugar levels. Exercise also helps reduce stress levels (as mentioned above) and releases endorphins which act as natural mood boosters—all great things when managing epilepsy.
Is There a Cure?
Unfortunately, there is no cure for epilepsy. However, the condition can be managed with anti-seizure medications and lifestyle changes. Small changes to your daily routine can make a big difference in managing seizures. It’s important to speak to your doctor, especially a neuropsychiatric, to discuss which lifestyle changes are best for you.
You can also participate in epilepsy research. Participating in research studies helps scientists better understand the condition, which could ultimately lead to improved treatments and even a cure. You will also have access to potential treatments before they are widely available. Your input will also be immensely helpful in improving how medical professionals diagnose and treat epilepsy. Speak to your doctor about the opportunities available to you.
Being diagnosed with epilepsy may feel overwhelming at first, but remember you are not alone. With the right support and lifestyle changes, you can manage your condition and live a full life. Managing epilepsy doesn’t have to be difficult. There are numerous lifestyle changes that you can make to better manage your condition and reduce the risk/frequency of seizures. With effort and dedication, you can live a normal life free from frequent seizures—so don’t give up hope!