Summer is here and it’s time for fun! Many people will be planning vacations, celebrating holidays, or just relaxing at home. But will seizures get in the way? Are their special precautions to take? Will side effects of medicines be a problem?
Here is an overview of some things to consider. Many of these tips may not pertain to you, but others may. Please take a moment to read through them and follow the links for more information about managing your seizures and safety during travel. Make sure to call your doctor or nurse if you have specific questions about your health or safety.
Do fireworks bother people with seizures? What other triggers should I watch out for?
How can I prevent a worsening of seizures over the holidays and vacation time?
- If fireworks always bother you, don’t watch them!
- Other tips to consider: Sit far back from the fireworks, look away frequently, and wear head phones if noise bothers you too.
- Pay attention to other triggers. Hopefully you’ve tracked them in a seizure diary. If not, start doing that so you can see what you may be most sensitive to.
- Try to avoid lots of triggers happening at the same time. Consider your high risk times. For example, some women have more seizures around their menstrual cycle so avoid other triggers at this time. Others are very sensitive to sleep so pay extra attention to these areas while traveling or celebrating. Staying healthy by sleeping well, not missing meals, and getting some exercise can help in many ways.
- Pay attention to your seizure medicines. Missing doses or not taking them consistently can lead to more seizures or side effects.
What about traveling with seizure medicine?
- Take an extra supply of medicine to last the whole time you are away. Keep this extra supply in a different place from your usual medicines or ask a family member or friend you are traveling with to hold onto them. This way, if your luggage or your supply of medicine gets lost while traveling, someone else will have a supply for you.
- If you have a plan for using a seizure rescue medicine or vagus nerve stimulator magnet for seizures, make sure you bring these medicines and the magnet. Carry your seizure response plan too and make sure someone else traveling with you has a copy too.
What happens if I have a seizure while traveling?
- Seizures do happen, often at the most unpredictable times. Make sure others with you know what to do, and what NOT to do when you have a seizure.
- Share your seizure response plan with your travel companions and even practice what to do. I call this a seizure drill.
- If you are taking a train or airplane and your seizures are not controlled well, make sure you travel with someone who knows what to do. Talk to the airlines ahead of time about your seat choice. Having a window seat may help prevent you from getting up during or after a seizure. Sit next to your companion too. Avoid long plane rides. Taking short ones or breaking up long trips may be easier for you.
Will being in the sun or exercise bother me?
- For most people this is not an issue and exercise is good!
- Some people may notice a change in seizures if they do too much or exercise at very hot times of day. Don’t stop exercising, but change it up. Do a lighter type of exercise for a shorter period and not when it’s very hot out.
Ask your healthcare provider about the seizure medicines you take. Some relevant side effects of anti-seizure drugs include:
- Staying out of bright sunlight is recommended for a few seizure medicines.
- Infrequently, a few medicines may cause a person to not sweat normally. You could get overheated and not realize this. If you are on one of these medicines, make sure you take frequent breaks and stay well hydrated when in the sun and exercising. Talk to your doctor about other specific suggestions.
- If you notice that your blood sodium (amount of salt in your blood) tends to run low, drinking too much water may be a problem. Talk to your healthcare provider about how much fluid you should be drinking each day and what to look for.
- The side effects mentioned above are not common and do not happen with all medicines. Yet anyone taking seizure medicines should be aware of what to do and what not to do to prevent or manage any side effects, if they occur. This is the same for medicines you may take for other health problems too.
The tips mentioned are designed to help you plan to have a wonderful and safe time on vacation, celebrating, or relaxing at home. Use them proactively – planning ahead helps!
Please note that this is not a complete summary of tips Since all of us are different, talk to your healthcare team and family to make your own plans.
Best wishes for a fun and safe summer season!