Tips for Managing Triggers
The following triggers and the corresponding tips may help you avoid triggers.*
Click each section to expand and view corresponding tips.
Missing doses of seizure medication is the most common cause of "breakthrough" seizures, and can occur even in patients whose seizures are usually well controlled.
Stopping your seizure medication suddenly can cause serious problems, especially in patients with epilepsy. If you miss a dose, take it as soon as possible, unless it is almost time for the next dose. If a dose is skipped, do not double the next dose. Take your regularly prescribed dose. Call your doctor for any questions.
People who are affected by noises should talk to their doctor. Using earplugs or earphones in noisy or crowded places, listening to relaxing music, or distracting yourself by singing or focusing on an activity can help.
If you are affected by lights, use polarized or tinted glasses and natural lighting indoors. When riding in a car, focus on distant objects to avoid flickering lights or patterns. Avoid discos, strobe lights, or flashing bulbs on holiday decorations. With a computer, use a monitor with minimal contrast glare or use a screen filter.
Try to regulate your sleeping habits so you have a consistent schedule, which can help you get enough sleep. Keep a log of your sleep patterns, seizures, and general well-being. You may also want to ask a partner to record their observations of you. The following tips can help improve sleep:
- Talk to your doctor or nurse about your medicine schedule. Changing times or doses at night may help you sleep better.
- Limit caffeine and try to avoid it after noon or mid afternoon at the latest.
- Avoid alcohol and nicotine.
- Limit working or studying late at night. Stop work at least one hour before bedtime to allow time to relax.
- Exercise no later than early in the evening.
- Take warm showers or have someone give you a massage before bedtime to relieve muscle tension.
- Try relaxation exercises before bedtime.
- Limit naps overall and do not nap in the early evening.
- If you are feeling anxious or worried, talk to someone or write down your thoughts before going to sleep and deal with any issues in the morning.
- If you can't fall asleep after 15 minutes, get up and do something else for 15 minutes, then go back to bed and try again.
Regular exercise is good for everyone, but try to avoid it in the middle of the day during hot weather. Ask your doctor if there are any exercises you should avoid.
Relaxation or slow breathing exercises can help if you are anxious or begin to hyperventilate.
A well-balanced diet that you eat at consistent, regular intervals can help you avoid stomach distress and help you remember when to take your medications. Avoid foods and drinks that could aggravate seizures, and make sure to follow advice from your doctor or healthcare professional.
Men and women can both be affected by cyclical changes, so it's important for everyone to record seizures on a calendar to track them in relation to hormonal changes. Keep track of menstrual cycles or symptoms and change. Track dates and doses of medicines such as hormone replacement therapies and birth control pills. Make sure you talk to your doctor about your use of contraceptives, as some seizure medications could affect their effectiveness.
Your doctor should know if you become ill or injured, or if you are taking antibiotics, painkillers, or cold medicines. Certain medicines can potentially trigger seizures or interfere with seizure medications, and fever and other illness could make you more susceptible to seizures.
Stress can trigger seizures. Keep track of your moods in relation to your stress levels, and use the following techniques to alleviate and control it:
- Counseling and epilepsy support groups may help patients cope with seizures and stress.
- Keeping a journal of feelings and thoughts.
- Give yourself a break and take a step back from a stressful situation to think about how to address it.
- Relaxation exercises, yoga, and deep breathing can work to calm your nerves.
- Tell your doctor how you feel. If mood changes last longer than expected, you may need help from a mental health professional. If you feel emotionally unsafe, call your doctor or go to an emergency room to be evaluated.