Our Helpline & Information Officer, Stuart Macgee looks at ways to protect yourself from increased seizures during this period of lockdown and if you are showing symptoms of COVID19.
Coronavirus, also known as COVID19 is currently affecting all aspects of our lives. We are facing an unprecedented time of uncertainty and restrictions.
Having epilepsy does not automatically mean you will experience severe symptoms if you catch COVID19.
Remember, in many cases, symptoms are mild, or you may not even know you have it.
If you are showing symptoms of COVID19 or suspect you may have it, you need to be mindful of certain things which may put you at an increased risk of seizures.
The below are ways to protect yourself from increased seizures during this period of lockdown and if you are showing symptoms of COVID19.
Keep taking your anti-epileptic medication
Keep taking your medication exactly as prescribed even if you feel unwell. This is the most important measure you can take to protect yourself against increased seizures.
Keep an eye on your seizure activity, and if you find seizure activity increases, get in touch with your epilepsy specialist nurse.
If you have or suspect you have COVID19 and your symptoms are serious, seek medical advice by phoning NHS24 on 111. Mention you have epilepsy and the effect this may be having if you experience increased seizures.
If necessary, you will then be referred to one of the COVID19 Assessment Centres in Scotland for further advice and support.
Be aware of a change in routine
Be aware that your routine might be different at the moment, whether you are self-isolating, working from home or generally are unable to do the things that give your day a structure, such as going to the gym or out for a walk.
You may stay up later and sleep longer in the morning, which could have a knock-on effect on your medication timings.
For example, if you always take your medication after breakfast, this could mean you end up taking your medication much later than your usual time or even forget to take it.
Set up an alarm reminder on your phone so you remember to take your medication.
Stick to a good sleep routine
We know that tiredness and lack of sleep can be a trigger for seizures.
Stick to a good sleep routine. Avoid stimulating drinks containing caffeine from late afternoon onwards. Consider, switching to herbal teams if you like them.
Switch off devices that emit blue light one hour before bedtime if you can. Blue light can interfere with the production of melatonin, a hormone important for good sleep.
Also, wind down gently towards the end of the day. Listen to some music or read a book.
Small steps can make a big difference to the quality of your sleep, and stress levels.
Eat a healthy and varied diet
Our body needs plenty of fruit and vegetables for good immune function. Cut down on refined sugars, including biscuits, chocolate and pastries.
We know that sugar can suppress the function of your immune system. Also, stay well hydrated, preferably with water.
A healthy diet is also important for seizure control.
Exercising remains important. It potentially helps with seizure control, counters stress and anxiety and helps boost your immune system.
While there are many restrictions at the moment to stop you from doing your usual exercise routines, you will still find plenty of opportunities to do something to keep your body and mind as fit and healthy as possible.
This could be a home-based workout or yoga. Bear in mind, you are still allowed one form of exercise outside. As long as you stay local and observe social distancing rules, you can still go for a run, walk or a cycle.
Doing all of the above will help you manage your seizure activity and fight off any infections.