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


How do I protect myself from getting sick?

Follow these common-sense tips from CDC.

  • Make sure you’ve had a flu vaccine.
  • Wash your hands regularly to prevent the spread of germs.
  • Clean and disinfect commonly used surfaces (counters, door handles, door knobs) frequently.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Stay home if you are sick and call your health care provider first if you need an appointment.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.

Video - COVID-19 And Epilepsy: Do we have to social distance from people in our homes?


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If COVID-19 is in my community, what should I do?

Please follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines about precautions that are important for everyone.

  • You may need to stay home for a period of time. Follow your local public health recommendations.
  • Avoid crowds and stay at least 6 feet away from other people. This is called social distancing.
  • Limit your exposure. Wear a mask or face covering when you leave the house.
  • Update your seizure action plan for what to do if there is a change in seizures and who to call.
  • Talk to your healthcare provider about an extra supply of prescription medicines. If you can’t get the seizure medicine from your local pharmacy, look into a mail-order pharmacy. They often allow people to get a 2 or 3 month supply of medicine at once if prescribed by your provider. Review CDC's prescription preparedness information.
  • Keep supplies of any over-the-counter (OTC) medicines you normally take. Do NOT take any new OTC medicines without talking to your provider.
  • Look into ways to have food and other things you need delivered to you.
  • Stay in touch with family, friends or someone who can check on you if needed

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When should I wear a mask and what kind is best?

The main reason to wear a mask is to prevent spreading your own germs to other people. The CDC is now recommending that everyone wear a cloth face cover (mask or scarf) to cover your nose and mouth when out in public.

  • Cloth face covers, masks, or scarfs should be used by all of us when going outside and to public places. Check with your local public health department as guidance may change over time.
  • Talk to your health care provider about the use of a face covering if you have concerns about your type of seizures.
  • If your seizures are not controlled, consider traveling outside with a friend or family member who can help you stay safe and remove your mask if needed during or after a seizure.
  • Cloth face coverings should not be used on young children under age 2.
  • N95 masks offer the most protection, but they should be reserved for and used only by health care professionals caring for people with COVID-19.

Video - COVID-19 And Epilepsy: Will a facemask protect me from COVID-19?

 

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Are there certain activities or places I should avoid if I have epilepsy?

All of us, whether we have epilepsy or not, should avoid going out as much as we can right now. Listen to your local officials about what you can do and what you should not do as restrictions may ease up in some areas.

For people with seizures, consider not going to stores alone or at all if any of these features or things happen to you during a seizure:

  • You are not aware what happens during the seizure or are confused
  • You wander or run during a seizure
  • You have repeated movements, like grabbing at or picking up objects

If any of these things happen during a seizure when you are in a store, you could get too close to other people or objects that place you at harm. If someone is with you, they can help you stay safe during the seizure. They can also help you keep proper distance from other people and limit exposure to other hazards.

It’s probably a wise idea for people with seizures of any kind that affect their awareness or consciousness to take extra care to avoid crowds and don’t go out alone.

Helpful Information from CDC

Video - COVID-19 And Epilepsy: Can I visit my family?

 

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Can COVID-19 increase the risk of sudden unexpected death in epilepsy or SUDEP in a person with epilepsy?

To our knowledge, there is no credible evidence that COVID-19 increases the risk for sudden unexpected death in epilepsy (SUDEP). However, regardless of whether a person has epilepsy or not, COVID-19 does carry a risk of complications and even death. People should do everything they can to avoid exposure to the virus and pay attention to seizure control.

Video - COVID-19 And Epilepsy: Does COVID-19 raise concerns with SUDEP?

 

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Can people with epilepsy donate blood?

Yes, in general people with epilepsy can donate blood.

  • Some people may worry that they could have a seizure while donating blood. There is no evidence that the blood donation process itself would trigger seizures.
  • Often people wonder if taking seizure medicine would prevent them from donating blood. Before you donate, you will be asked about your health history and medicines you take. In general, taking most medicines will not preventing you from donating. If there is any concern about medicines you take or your health in general, talk to them when you review your health history.
 

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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.

COVID-19 (Coronavirus) and Seizures

  • Are seizures a symptom of COVID-19?
  • Can seizures increase if a person gets COVID-19?
  • My seizures are worse. What should I do?

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
Authored Date: 
05/2020
Reviewed By: 
Elaine Wirrell MD
Jacqueline French MD
on: 
Wednesday, May 13, 2020