Stuart Macgee, Helpline & Information Officer at Epilepsy Scotland provides a few things people living with epilepsy should consider when travelling abroad.
It is the time of year where you might be thinking of travelling abroad to enjoy some sunshine.
If you are living with epilepsy there a few things that you should consider, so you are able to have a safe and happy holiday.
First, find out what health services are available at your chosen destination. Also, consider how easy it would be to get medical help, bearing in mind any language barriers.
If in doubt, talk to your doctor or epilepsy specialist nurse and ask for their advice before travelling abroad.
Taking anti-epileptic drugs with you
Always take extra medication in case of an unexpected delay.
Bear in mind that if you lose or run out of your anti-epileptic drugs, you may not get the same kind or brand of your medication. Also, many travel insurance will not cover you for the loss of medication.
Carry enough of your anti-epileptic drugs in your hand luggage to last for the duration of your trip and keep them in their original containers.
It can be useful to also carry a supply of essential medication in both hand and hold luggage.
Medical identification and medical records
It can help to have an ID-style card or other medical identification bracelet on you that tells people you have epilepsy and what to do in case of emergency.
We can send you a free ID card and details on where to buy medical ID jewellery.
Travel insurance can be expensive or difficult to obtain if your seizures are not well controlled or if you are still awaiting diagnosis.
It is always worth shopping around for quotes. To make it easier for you, we have teamed up with Medical Travel Compared. They are a travel insurance comparison site, which brings over 40 travel insurance companies that specialise in pre-existing medical conditions together on one independent site.
Flying itself is not known to trigger seizures. However, it is important to be aware of other factors that could affect you.
These include missing sleep, skipping meals or become dehydrated. Carry snacks with you and make sure you drink plenty of water during the flight.
Avoid drinking caffeine and alcohol, as these make you dehydrated more quickly. Get as much sleep as possible on the plane.
Taking your medication at the right time
If you are travelling to a different time zone, speak to your doctor or epilepsy specialist nurse about the best time to take your medication.
If you need to take your medication at the same UK time every day, it helps to carry two watches. Set one to local time and keep the other at UK time.
You can then use the watch set at UK time as a reminder to take your medication. This ensures that you take it at the time your body is used to.
Other possible seizure triggers
High temperatures or humid conditions can also sometimes make seizures more likely. Staying hydrated and staying indoors when temperatures are at their highest can prevent seizures.
Vomiting and diarrhoea can sometimes trigger a seizure because you may not have a sufficient level of your drugs in your system.
Being sick can also cause dehydration, low blood sugar and poor sleep, which can be seizure triggers. Rehydration sachets, available from a chemist, can help you get over the effects of vomiting and diarrhoea quicker.
If you cannot take your medication for a while, it is important to stay in a safe place and have someone with you in case you have a seizure.
Our travelling abroad with epilepsy guide provides more information.
If you would like to request a copy, please email email@example.com or for a digital copy click the following link: https://www.epilepsyscotland.org.uk/here-for-you/publications/holiday-and-leisure/