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Television

Television is the most common trigger of seizures in photosensitive people and your distance from the TV screen is the most important factor.

The closer you are to the TV, the more the screen fills your entire field of vision and the greater the effect on the back of the eye.

A few simple precautions can be taken:

  • Sit away from the TV at either a distance of 3 metres, or 4 times the size of the screen
  • Sit level with, not below the TV screen
  • Turn down the brightness of your screen and play around with the lighting of the room to see what suits you best
  • Use a remote control to change channels and switch the TV on and off
  • If you do need to use the controls of the TV, put a hand over one eye. Closing your eye may still allow the light to pass through the eyelid
  • Do not watch the TV screen when fast-forwarding or re-winding a video tape or DVD.
  • A smaller TV (14 inches or smaller) is usually better than a large one

LCD (Liquid crystal display) or Plasma screens don't flicker and are safe.  If you still have an old-style CRT (cathode ray tube) screen, go for a 100 Hz TV or set the refresh rate as high as possible to reduce flicker rates.  It is important to bear in mind that even modern TV screens will not protect against content with flashing or flickering light, or repetitive patterns.

3D televisions could trigger a seizure but there is currently no scientific evidence for this. It is possible that switching between 3D and non-3D viewing could be a trigger.  It is also thought that seeing 3D and non-3D televisions at the same time could be a problem. Some people with photosensitive epilepsy have reported feeling uncomfortable when watching 3D television.

Check out our factsheet on photosensitive epilepsy for more information or phone our helpline.

Telephones – Mobile

Please see Phones - mobile.

Tegretol

Carbamazepine is a generic drug used to treat partial or generalised seizures. A common brand name for this drug is Tegretol.

All drugs can have possible side effects. Those for carbamazepine include: skin rash, sedation, blurred or double vision. There may be unsteadiness, headache or drowsiness. Rarely, some women may have problems with foetal abnormalities. Most women who use Tegretol during pregnancy have normal, healthy babies.

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. If you get a different make, this could 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.

Temazepam

Temazepam is a type of medicine called a benzodiazepine. Benzodiazepines are used for their sedative and anxiety-relieving effects.

Temazzies, Jellies, taken as recreational drugs are illegal. In large quantities they may cause seizures because of their toxic effects on the body. For accurate information about different recreational drugs check out websites such as Know the Score or Talk to Frank.

Temporal lobe seizures

The temporal lobe is a part of your front brain. Seizure activity in this area of the brain is called temporal lobe epilepsy. People can have temporal lobe seizures as well as other kinds of seizures.

Temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE) can sometimes be difficult to diagnose because some of the symptoms can be confused with ways of behaving or other physical problems.

This is because the temporal lobe is responsible for many functions including:

  • Feelings (such as anger, fear and déjà vu)
  • Hearing
  • Speech and language
  • Reading
  • Bowel function

Some symptoms of temporal lobe seizures might include:

  • Feeling angry, scared or disoriented
  • A sense of having been here before or disorientation
  • Hallucinations of voices, people, music, smells or tastes
  • Being temporarily unable to speak normally
  • Being temporarily unable to read
  • Feeling butterflies in their stomach or nausea
  • Meaningless repetitive movements like lip-smacking or pulling at clothes. These are called automatisms.

Todd's Paralysis

Todd's paralysis is a neurological condition experienced by some people who have epilepsy, where following a seizure, they experience a brief period of temporary paralysis. The paralysis may be partial or complete but usually occurs on just one side of the body. The paralysis can last from half an hour to 36 hours. Todd's paralysis can also affect the person’s speech and vision.

It is important to distinguish Todd's paralysis from a stroke, which it can resemble. If in doubt, call 999 as a stroke requires urgent and immediate medical attention.

Tonic seizures

During a tonic seizure the person's body will suddenly stiffen and their breathing may become irregular. The person may fall down if they are unsupported.  Our Tonic seizures factsheet gives more information on this type of seizure.

Tonic-clonic seizures

Tonic-clonic seizures used to be called 'grand mal' and are the most well-known type of seizures. The person will lose consciousness and fall to the ground during this seizure.

They will stiffen (the tonic phase) and then jerk (the clonic phase). Their breathing may become irregular and as a result they could turn slightly blue. They may also make grunting noises, bite their tongue or cheek, or be incontinent.

After a couple of minutes the jerking normally stops and they will slowly recover. They may feel groggy, sleepy and confused for some time afterwards. They may also have a headache or sore arms and legs. Some people recover more quickly than others.  For more information on this and other types of seizure check out our Seizures explained guide.  You may also find our First aid for seizures guide useful, which gives step by step instructions on what to do if someone has a tonic-clonic seizure.

Topiramate

Topiramate is a generic drug used to treat tonic-clonic, myoclonic, partial and secondary generalised seizures. A common brand name for this drug is Topamax.

All drugs can have possible side effects. Those for topirimate include dizziness, fatigue, drowsiness, poor memory, mental slowing, weight loss, headache, pins and needles and tremor.

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. If you get a different make, this could 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.

Travel Insurance

Insurance companies should not charge you extra for travel insurance purely because you have epilepsy. They have to look at your seizures and how often these happen. If you are having problems with insurance please contact our helpline on 0808 800 2200 or by email to enquiries@epilepsyscotland.org.uk.  Many people end up finding insurance with specialist insurance companies that specialise in pre-existing medical conditions.  To save you having to phone around many of these companies, we have teamed up with Medical Travel Compared, a specialist comparison website.  They have created a dedicated page for Epilepsy Scotland, and all you need to do is complete and submit their form to get a number of different quotes in an instant.   Follow this link for more information.

Travelling abroad

When you travel abroad. always take a full supply of your epilepsy medication. Keep the drugs in their original containers. If you are flying, keep some of your medication in your hand luggage, in case your suitcase goes missing or is delayed. You should also carry a letter from your doctor stating the name and the dose of your medication, and a prescription in case of emergencies.

Flying is not thought to trigger seizures, but missing sleep or meals while travelling could do.

Take your medication at regular times. You may wish to speak to your GP or pharmacist about altering the timing of your medication if you are travelling across a different time zone. You can also use two watches and keep one to British time to take your medication with.  Our Travelling abroad factsheet gives you lots more information like this.

Triggers

There are certain things that can make some people with epilepsy more likely to have a seizure. These are called seizure triggers and often include:

A small number of people with epilepsy (around 3%) have their seizures triggered by flashing or flickering lights, or repetitive patterns. This is called photosensitive epilepsy. The TV is the most common trigger for people with this kind of epilepsy.

Keeping a diary of your seizures and recording what happened before a seizure can help to work out any possible triggers.  Not every person with epilepsy has triggers and seizures will just happen. Call our helpline for more information or a confidential chat.

Trileptal

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

All drugs can have possible side effects. Those for oxcarbazepine include skin rash, double vision, unsteadiness, headache, nausea, diarrhoea 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. If you get a different make, this could 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.