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0808 800 2200

First seizure

One in 20 people will have a seizure at some point in their lives

We are often contacted by people who have had a seizure and are looking for more information. This can be a worrying time and you may want to speak to someone about your concerns. Our helpline on 0808 800 2200 provides the opportunity to do this in confidence.

Seizures can happen for many reasons including heart problems, faints and epilepsy. One in 20 people will have a seizure at some point in their lives. This does not necessarily mean that they have epilepsy. It is important that the cause is looked into to find the most appropriate treatment, if any is required.

If you have experienced a seizure, or seizure like episode, and have not already been referred to a neurologist or epilepsy specialist, you can ask your GP to refer you. There is no single test to diagnose epilepsy so the doctor will ask questions about your medical history and what you have experienced. Some tests such as a brain scan or EEG may be carried out. The diagnosis or ruling out of epilepsy can be helped by an eyewitness account. If someone saw you during the episode it will be useful to bring them to any medical appointments you have.

The following information aims to answer some questions you may have. Call the helpline on 0808 800 2200 for any further information.

Driving regulations

If you have had any type of seizure you must stop driving and inform the DVLA.  You will lose your licence for a minimum of between six to 12 months. You can do this by telephoning their medical unit on 0300 790 6806, or by completing a form available at: Direct.gov.uk

With medical and DVLA approval, you can have your licence returned after six months if you only have the type of seizure which does not impair your level of consciousness and ability to drive (ie simple partial seizure).  With any other type of seizure, you get your licence back once you've been seizure free for one year. There are different regulations if you have sleep seizures. If after one year you only ever have seizures while asleep (whether this is during the day or at night) and no type of seizure while awake, you can have your driving licence back after one year. In a few cases, if there is no history or diagnosis of epilepsy and you have only had one seizure, it may be possible to get your licence back after 6 months.

There are stricter guidelines for HGV / PCV licences. See our Epilepsy and driving factsheet for more information.

Free bus travel

Many people find losing their driving licence one of the most difficult parts of having epilepsy. If you have had one seizure in the last 12 months and are receiving treatment for epilepsy then you will be entitled to free bus travel throughout Scotland. Please call our helpline on 0808 800 2200 for an application form and more information, or see our Free Bus Pass section which explains how to apply.

Safety

There are safety factors you may need to consider if you are having unpredictable seizures. These include taking precautions when bathing or showering.

A shower is considered as a safer alternative to a bath, although not entirely risk-free. Ensure that the water temperature control is working and never use very hot water. A shower with a flat floor is ideal. If this is not possible, avoid a shower with a high lip where the water could be trapped if you fall. Sitting in the shower can help avoid injury if you fall during a seizure. See our Staying safe with epilepsy guide for more information on ways to reduce risk: