Since the cause of epilepsy is often unknown, it can’t be prevented, but the seizures associated with epilepsy can be.
Seizures can occur for a number of reasons and often they can be prevented. One common cause of seizures is epilepsy, and in most cases, seizures associated with the condition can be prevented if you know what’s triggering them and take steps to modify or avoid those triggers.
Epilepsy Causes, Treatment, and Prevention
Epilepsy — a disorder in which a person has recurring, unprompted seizures due to abnormal electrical activity in the brain — affects an estimated 50 million people worldwide. In about half of those people, the cause of the epilepsy is unknown. Among the other 25 million individuals, the cause may be a defect in the structure of the brain, a tumor or stroke, or a severe head injury — the most common known cause in young adults, according to the Epilepsy Therapy Project. Therefore, it’s important to protect your head with a helmet any time you’re engaged in an activity in which your head could be damaged, such as playing a contact sport like football or riding a bicycle, all-terrain vehicle, or motorcycle.
There are several medications that can successfully treat and manage epilepsy and help keep seizures to a minimum. Anticonvulsant drugs can work if taken correctly. In some cases, a low carbohydrate, high-fat diet known as the ketogenic diet may be prescribed to help treat children with epilepsy and prevent seizures.
Know Your Triggers, Prevent Seizures
Epileptic seizures are often associated with particular triggers or changes in your daily habits or routine. Here are some common behaviors and factors that may trigger an epileptic seizure:
- Stress, anxiety, or other emotional issues
- Alcohol or drug abuse or the process of quitting alcohol or drugs
- Change in sleep schedules, feeling very tired, or significant sleep deprivation
- A change in medications, or skipping or missing a dose of anti-seizure medication
- Something that overstimulates the senses, like lights that flash brightly, watching television, playing video or computer games, or working on a computer
- Hormonal changes in women, often from pregnancy or menstruation
- Mental strain, such as from solving complex problems
You can’t always predict what will trigger an epileptic seizure; sometimes they’ll occur for no apparent reason. But many people are able to see a correlation between certain behaviors and their seizures. By taking steps to minimize these factors, you may be able to prevent seizures.
Seizure Prevention Tips
Here are some tips that may help reduce your risk of having an epilepsy seizure:
- Get plenty of sleep each night — set a regular sleep schedule, and stick to it.
- Learn stress management and relaxation techniques.
- Avoid drugs and alcohol.
- Take all of your medications as prescribed by your doctor.
- Avoid bright, flashing lights and other visual stimuli.
- Skip TV and computer time whenever possible.
- Avoid playing video games.
- Eat a healthy diet.
Until more is known about the causes of epilepsy and how it can be prevented, your best bet to prevent seizures associated with epilepsy is to avoid the things that can trigger your seizures. This can make a measurable difference in the number of seizures you have.