coronavirus testing

If you have symptoms of #COVID19 and want to get tested, call your doctor first. Also check with your state or local health department, which will have the latest information on testing. Learn more at cdc.gov/coronavirus.

Based on an article originally published February 28, 2020, and updated several times.


Are seizures a symptom of COVID-19?

Seizures are not a symptom of COVID-19. At the very end stages of serious forms of COVID-19, damage to other body organs can happen, including damage to the brain. This happens with other respiratory infections too. Under these circumstances, seizures could occur with COVID-19 in a person without epilepsy.

People with epilepsy could have more seizures if they are also sick with COVID-19 due to a number of factors.

Can seizures increase if a person gets COVID-19?

When a person with epilepsy gets sick with another illness, especially with a fever, they may see a change or increase in their seizures. The illness is a physical and emotional stressor to the body that could make seizures more likely. The same happens if someone is sick with COVID-19. However, early information from countries where outbreaks have occurred suggests that the risk of worsening seizures with COVID-19 seems low for most people with epilepsy.

You can reduce the chance of COVID-19 affecting your seizures by taking care of yourself. Try to avoid or prevent seizure triggers, for example:

  • Be extra careful taking your seizure medicinedon’t miss any doses. You may be out of your usual routines so do whatever will help you take them at regular times.
    • Set reminders on your phone.
    • Use sticky notes.
    • Have someone remind you when to take medicines or ask if you’ve taken them.
    • Use a checklist to make sure you took them.
    • Use a pillbox.
    • Use an app like Texting 4 Control or a seizure diary.
  • Try to eat and drink as normally as possible.
    • If you are vomiting, make sure you call your health care provider to ask whether you need to re-take your medicine and what else you need to do.
  • Try to get a good amount of sleep.
  • Take over-the-counter medicine to keep a fever down. Initially some concern was raised that ibuprofen could make COVID-19 more severe. There is little data to support this. Acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen could be used.
  • Treat the symptoms of COVID-19. Most cold medicines are fine. Avoid cold medicines with pseudoephedrine if possible – this can affect seizures in some people. Talk to your health care provider about what is best to use.
  • If you or a loved one develop COVID-19 and notice changes in seizures, contact your epilepsy health care provider for advice specific to your situation.
  • Worry and anxiety about seizures and COVID-19 may affect people as well.

Video - COVID-19 and Epilepsy: Am I at risk of having more seizures during these times of uncertainty?

 

Video - COVID-19 and Epilepsy: How do you manage seizures during the crisis?

 

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My seizures are worse. What should I do?

  • Right now it’s better to avoid the hospital, an emergency room or urgent care clinic unless you really need it. Don’t go to an emergency room on your own unless it is an emergency. Many times you can be treated at home.
  • Call your providers first. Don’t just go to their office without an appointment – this could put you or other people at risk for getting the virus.
  • Many providers are offering “virtual visits” (called telehealth) by phone or computer. These can be just as useful as an in-person visit.
  • Talk to your doctor or nurse about a seizure action plan. If you already have one, update it.
  • If needed, your provider may recommend an adjustment in seizure medicine or recommend a rescue medicine to use during periods of increased seizures. If you already have been prescribed a rescue medicine, talk to your pharmacist about an emergency supply.
  • However, just like any other time, if you or a loved one have an emergency, such as seizures lasting too long or more seizures than usual, seek emergency help.

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We Have More Answers

COVID-19 and Epilepsy

  • What is the coronavirus and COVID-19?
  • Are people with epilepsy at higher risk of developing COVID-19 (coronavirus)?
  • What factors may increase the risk from COVID-19 for a person with epilepsy?
  • Do children get COVID-19 as often as adults?
  • What is autoimmune epilepsy and does it increase my risk for severe COVID-19?
  • What can people do to limit exposure to the coronavirus?
  • What should I do if I think I have COVID-19?

Get the answers.

Staying Safe and Avoiding Risks During COVID-19

  • How do I protect myself from getting sick?
  • If COVID-19 is in my community, what should I do?
  • When should I wear a mask and what kind is best?
  • Are there certain activities or places I should avoid if I have epilepsy?
  • Can COVID-19 increase the risk of sudden unexpected death in epilepsy or SUDEP in a person with epilepsy?
  • Can people with epilepsy donate blood?

Get the answers.

Managing Epilepsy During COVID-19

  • How can I stay on top of managing my seizures?
  • How can I manage my stress and worry?
  • How do I stay in touch with my health care team?
  • When should I go to an emergency room for seizures?
  • My child is being evaluated for epilepsy surgery. Will it be canceled?

Get the answers.

Testing and Treatment: COVID-19 and Epilepsy

  • What testing is available to tell if I have COVID-19?
  • What is an antibody test and when should a person get this done?
  • Does the use of seizure medicines increase the risk of coronavirus infection?
  • Do any of the medicines being tried to treat COVID-19 interact with seizure medicines?
  • How can I get more medicine if my health care provider prescribes it? Will it be covered by my insurance?
  • What if I have other questions about insurance coverage related to COVID-19 testing or treatment?
  • Are there shortages in seizure medicines in the United States?

Get the answers.

Our Response to COVID-19

  • We are Here for You
  • Watch Our Facebook Live Series
  • Explore Our COVID-19 and Epilepsy Videos on YouTube
  • Related Articles
  • Preparing for Any Emergency
  • More Resources

Check out this section.

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Authored By: 
Patty Osborne Shafer RN, MN
Judy Gretsch
Authored Date: 
05/2020
Reviewed By: 
Elaine Wirrell MD
Jacqueline French MD
Judy Gretsch
on: 
Wednesday, May 13, 2020