This website is best viewed in Internet Explorer 8 or above. You are currently using an old version of Internet Explorer. Please click on this link to update your browser.

0808 800 2200

A to Z of Epilepsy - S

 

  1. A
  2. B
  3. C
  4. D
  5. E
  6. F
  7. G
  8. H
  9. I
  10. J
  11. K
  12. L
  13. M

  14. N
  15. O
  16. P
  17. Q
  18. R
  19. S
  20. T
  21. U
  22. V
  23. W
  24. X
  25. Y
  26. Z

 

  

S

Close All Open All

Sabril

Vigabatrin is a generic drug used to treat partial and secondary generalised seizures. A common brand name for this drug is Sabril.

All drugs can have possible side effects. Those for vigabatrin include: visual disturbance, drowsiness, headache, fatigue, weight gain, depression, agitation and confusion.

With all anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs) it is important to make sure you get the same make each time. There can be small differences between different versions or makes of each drug. A different make can sometimes trigger a seizure for some people. If the packaging of your AEDs looks different speak to your pharmacist, epilepsy specialist nurse, GP or consultant about this. There is more information on AEDs in our Epilepsy and treatment guide.

Scuba diving

This can be a dangerous sport for someone who has epilepsy. Having a tonic-clonic seizure while scuba diving could be fatal. Taking anti-epileptic drugs can also make you more likely to develop the potentially life-threatening condition 'nitrogen narcosis' than other divers, even at shallow depths. When this happens you may feel disorientated or excited, or may feel your lips, legs or feet go numb.

The UK Sport Diving Medical Committee recommends that someone with epilepsy should only scuba dive if they have not had a seizure for at least five years without taking anti-epileptic drugs. If you only have seizures in your sleep, you can scuba dive after three years instead of  the five. 

Seizure

The word seizure is used to describe an epileptic episode. It is also often called 'fit', 'funny turn' or 'attack'.

A seizure occurs when there is excessive electrical activity in the brain. The brains electrical circuit is disrupted and the wrong messages are sent. The person having the seizure has no control over what is happening. When only one part of the brain is affected this is called a partial seizure. If the whole brain is affected this is known as a generalised seizure.

Our Seizures explained guide explains more about the different types of seizures.

Seizure diary

This is a simple chart or small book for recording seizures and any other relevant information such as what happened just before a seizure. Recording this information may give you a better idea of any possible triggers. The information in the seizure diary will also help the neurologist in their diagnosis and treatment. We have some limited stock of seizure diaries to give away, phone our helpline to check availability.  You can also use Seizure Tracker, a free online tool that allows you to record your seizures and much more.

Sex

Sex is a normal part of life. It is not unusual for people to have problems with sexual performance at times, and people with epilepsy are no exception.

Some men may have a lower sex drive. If you are a man with epilepsy and you are worried that you may have a reduced sex drive or inability to have sexual intercourse, check with your doctor or epilepsy specialist nurse. Changes to your medication or other treatment may help.

Women too may have a low level of sexual desire; others have difficulty becoming sexually aroused; or intercourse can be painful for some women. You should speak to your doctor for advice as they may be able to suggest changes to your medication or other treatment that could help.

Both men and women with epilepsy sometimes worry that having sex might cause a seizure. However, the research evidence shows that this is very rare.

Simple partial seizures

This type of seizure occurs in one part of the brain. You do not lose awareness during this kind of seizure.

If the seizure starts in the temporal lobe of the brain the person gets an altered sense of perception while being completely aware of their surroundings. This could, for example, be a  feeling as if you are looking down on yourself, having a peculiar taste or smell, or feeling you have been here before ('deja vu').

Our Seizures explained guide explains more about the different types of seizures.

Sodium valproate

Sodium valproate is a generic drug used to treat partial or generalised seizures. A common brand name for this drug is Epilim.

All drugs can have possible side effects. Those for sodium valproate include: skin rash, sedation, nausea, vomiting, hair loss, weight gain, tremor, irregular menstrual cycle and, rarely, foetal malformations.

If you are taking sodium valproate/Epilim and are thinking about becoming pregnant, speak to your doctor or epilepsy specialist nurse to get advice on the most appropriate anti-epileptic drug for you before you become pregnant. Research shows that sodium valproate is not the ideal drug to take during pregnancy or if you are considering having a family. If you are on sodium valproate/Epilim, do not suddenly stop taking your medication without medical advice. If you do, you may have a serious seizure.  Our Planning a family factsheet will give you more information on the issues to consider before pregnancy.

With all anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs) it is important to make sure you get the same make each time. There can be small differences between different versions or makes of each drug. A different make can sometimes trigger a seizure for some people. If the packaging of your AEDs looks different speak to your pharmacist, epilepsy specialist nurse, GP or consultant about this. There is more information on AEDs in our Epilepsy and treatment guide.

Sport

Taking part in sport is good for everyone's health. Unfortunately, lack of understanding about epilepsy has meant some people have been stopped from doing the leisure activities they enjoy.

Most people with epilepsy have their seizures well controlled with medication, so they can take part in almost all sports and leisure activities. If, however, you are having regular or unpredictable seizures, extra care is needed and, for safety reasons, it is always a good idea to discuss any sport or leisure activity you might be interested in with your doctor or epilepsy specialist nurse.

Our Leisure Guide explains more about the different types of activities and possible issues to consider.

Status Epilepticus

Status epilepticus is where someone has a seizure, or a series of consecutive seizures, with no recovery in between, lasting for 30 minutes or more. Status epilepticus is always a medical emergency. Emergency medication must be given which will usually stop the seizure. If the seizure continues, the person will need to go to hospital. Status epilepticus is very rare and more likely to happen if a person has uncontrolled seizures.  Our First aid for seizures guide explains more about emergency medication.

Support groups

Support groups are a chance for people with epilepsy to meet and share experiences. There are some epilepsy support groups around Scotland. For more information on groups in your area, please contact our helpline or check out our Support group page.  If you are thinking of starting up your own group, have a look at our support group information pack, this contains plenty of information to get you started.

Swimming

Swimming, like any other activity, can be good for you. The risk associated with swimming is quite low if you swim in a pool that is supervised by qualified lifeguards. It is important that you let the lifeguards know you have epilepsy before you enter the water. Do not go swimming if you feel unwell.

If your seizures are frequent and unpredictable, you may want to bring someone with you who knows what to do if you have a seizure. If possible, stay in the shallow end and swim widths not lengths. Swimming in the sea, lochs or rivers can potentially be dangerous for someone who has seizures. 

For more information on this and other leisure activities, check out our Epilepsy and leisure guide.

SUDEP

If a person with epilepsy dies suddenly and no other cause of death is found, this is called SUDEP (Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy). In Scotland about 100 people die from epilepsy each year. Accidents and status epilepticus (an uncommon type of severe seizure) account for some of these, but the most common cause of death is SUDEP.

Epilepsy is a long term condition and the outlook for most people is very good. With a clear understanding of your epilepsy and good management of your seizures, the risk of SUDEP can be minimised. If you have any concerns about SUDEP, talk to your epilepsy specialist nurse.  You can also phone our helpline for a confidential chat.

If you have lost a loved one to SUDEP and you need to talk to someone, you can also contact SUDEP Action.  They have a free helpline which is staffed by professional counsellors who can give you further support and help.  You can contact them on 01235 772850.   Their website also contains plenty of information about SUDEP, risk factors and how to reduce any potential risks.

Surgery

See Operations and surgery for epilepsy

Syncope

Syncope, or fainting, is a temporary loss of consciousness due to inadequate blood flow to the brain. This can sometimes be confused with a seizure.

Syndrome

A group of signs and symptoms that collectively define or characterise a disease or disorder.  There are many epilepsy syndromes, such as West syndrome or Dravet syndrome.