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


What testing is available to tell if I have COVID-19?

The most common type of test swabs the inside of your nose or mouth. The cells in the mucous are tested to see if genes from the virus are present.

  • It can take 1 to 7 days to get the result. A rapid test is being developed that can give results in 15 minutes or so.
  • A positive test means you are or were infected with the virus
  • People may have a positive test but not have symptoms of being sick with COVID-19.
  • If your test is positive, you may be able to spread the virus to other people.
  • A test can stay positive for a long time in the nose, even if the person has recovered from being sick. If you have a positive test result but no symptoms, talk to your health care team. They may tell you to stay home away from other people for 10 days or so.
  • Remember, the results of a test one day doesn’t mean anything about the next day!

What is an antibody test and when should a person get this done?

An antibody test can tell if you have been infected with the coronavirus in the past. It measures the body’s response to the virus and not the virus itself.

  • Antibodies are made by the body to help fight off the disease. They start showing up in the body about 10 to 15 days after a person gets infected.
  • An antibody test will probably stay positive forever if you have had COVID-19. It’s a good way to find out how many people have been infected in the past.
  • We do not yet know if a positive antibody test means you can not develop COVID-19 again. More research is needed to help understand this.

Video - COVID-19 And Epilepsy: What is the progress toward treatment and a vaccine?

 

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Does the use of seizure medicines increase the risk of coronavirus infection?

There is no evidence that using seizure medicines (also called antiepileptic drugs or antiseizure drugs or medicines) increases the risk of coronavirus infection, except for ACTH, steroids, everolimus, and immunotherapies. If you have any questions about the medicine you take, do not stop it - talk with your doctor about your concerns.

Article: April 7, 2020

"Ketogenic Diets and COVID-19: Is there an interaction?"

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Do any of the medicines being tried to treat COVID-19 interact with seizure medicines?

  • Some possible drug interactions with seizure medicines have been suggested, but the medicines have not been carefully evaluated in people with epilepsy.
  • It’s critical that no one change their seizure medicine because of a potential drug interaction without talking with your health care provider.
    • Remember, possible drug interactions do not mean you can’t use a medicine.
    • Sometimes it means that the dose of medicine may need to be changed or that drug levels need to be checked more often. Other times it may suggest who should or should not use a medicine.
  • If you are being treated with a medicine for COVID-19, talk to your health care team – including your epilepsy/neurology specialist.
  • The American Epilepsy Society (AES) recently published information about COVID-19, including what is known so far about possible drug interactions.
  • Here is one example of a known drug reaction for people to be aware of:
    • Chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine are being considered as possible treatments for COVID-19. These medicines can affect the way a person’s heart beats (known as prolonged QT interval) and place them at increased risk an irregular heart rhythm or arrhythmia. Some seizure medicines, as well as medicines for common health conditions such as depression and anxiety, may also have similar effects. Combining chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine with another medication that has similar effects on the heart may increase the risk of a heart arrhythmia.

Video - COVID-19 And Epilepsy: Are there concerns about epilepsy medicines and the virus?

 

Video - COVID-19 And Epilepsy: What are the risks of stopping immunosuppressant medication?

 

Video - COVID-19 And Epilepsy: Will people be treated with medicines if testing can’t be done in hospital?

 

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How can I get more medicine if my health care provider prescribes it? Will it be covered by my insurance?

Some people have reported problems getting an extra or larger supply of their seizure medicine. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has released information for people who have Medicare Part D prescription drug plans or Medicare Advantage plans.

  • The plans now can be more flexible – for example remove prior authorization requirements, waive prescription refill limits, and relax home and mail delivery of prescription medicines.
  • Providers are encouraged to expand access to telehealth services if possible.

These recommendations offer flexibility and options to health plans and do not require plans to make these changes.

Some private insurance companies and pharmacy benefit managers are adjusting coverage rules as well.

Learn about programs offered by some drug manufacturers that help people who cannot afford their medications.

Important

If you are having trouble getting prescription medicines dispensed or covered by your insurance, please contact the insurance company first. In some situations, your pharmacist may be able to help do this for you.

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What if I have other questions about insurance coverage related to COVID-19 testing or treatment?

  • CMS has recently released information for health care providers about changes affecting coverage for medical care in different settings.
  • Talk to your health care provider or insurance plan if you are have questions.
  • A social worker or case manager may also be very helpful.

Are there shortages in seizure medicines in the United States?

There are no reported shortages of seizure medicines related to the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S. that we know of now. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is monitoring this closely. However, before and unrelated to the COVID-19 pandemic, generic Levetiracetam Extended Release and Levetiracetam Immediate Release were both in shortage and continue to be.

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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.

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.

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
Laura Weidner
Judy Gretsch
on: 
Wednesday, May 13, 2020