Calling the doctor

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If you have a seizure for the first time, you should see a doctor right away to try to pinpoint the cause. If you have already been diagnosed with epilepsy, tell your doctor about any changes in your seizures; it’s a good idea to keep track of when and where they occur and contact your doctor as recommended.

Prevention

Although there is no way to prevent epilepsy, you can take steps to help prevent seizures:

  • Don’t drink alcohol, use illegal drugs, or smoke.
  • Protect your head with a helmet during any sport or activity that could result in a head injury.
  • Get plenty of sleep every night.
  • Do your best to avoid getting a cold or the flu.
  • Talk with your doctor about all of your prescription medications to be sure they won’t aggravate seizures.
  • Always take all of your epilepsy medications as prescribed.
  • Find healthy ways to cope with stress.

Complications

Epilepsy can lead to emotional and social problems, particularly in children. They may start to act out, experience behavior problems at school, or develop a learning disability. The seizures themselves can cause injury if you fall or hit your head or if you happen to be driving or using machinery. Other complications include suffering permanent damage to the brain due to lack of oxygen during a seizure.

Medications used to treat epilepsy may cause complications or uncomfortable side effects. If you’re pregnant, some of these drugs may lead to serious birth defects.

Key points to remember

Because a seizure can strike at any time, do your best to be prepared. If you have uncontrolled seizures, don’t drive to reduce your risk of being in an accident. Ask your doctor about wearing a medical alert bracelet that identifies you as having epilepsy so that people will know what to do if you have a seizure. And if you’re pregnant or trying to become pregnant, remember to check with your doctor about the safety of your medications.

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