More You Know Series – Sponsored by Mayo Clinic
Summer can pose special challenges for people with epilepsy. If you have epilepsy, you’re 13 to 19 times more likely to drown while swimming or bathing than the rest of the population because of the possibility of having a seizure while in the water.
People with epilepsy who would like to participate in summer water activities, like swimming, should talk to their neurologist first and have an open conversation. For some people with epilepsy, swimming can be possible in properly monitored settings.
- Always have someone actively watching you participating who can provide emergency assistance if needed.
- Alert any lifeguards to your epilepsy diagnosis before getting in the water.
- Wear appropriate safety equipment like a lifejacket.
If someone has frequent or uncontrolled seizures, water-based activities may not be advisable. More water safety advice can be found on the Epilepsy Foundation website.
Swimming is just one way to have fun this summer. To help prevent seizures in the sun, don’t forget to:
- Get to sleep on time.
- Find ways to destress.
- Take medications exactly as directed, since dose-skipping can lead to seizures.
- Track trends in your health and well-being.
Your health care provider can help. If the side effects of your medication bother you, speak up. Tracking trends can help you and your doctor to make more-informed adjustments to your medications.
Epilepsy researchers are making progress in the ability to forecast seizures. A study in Scientific Reports by Mayo Clinic researchers and international collaborators found that patterns could be identified in patients who wear a special wristwatch monitoring device, allowing about 30 minutes of warning before a seizure occurred. This worked well most of the time for five of six patients studied.
“Just as a reliable weather forecast helps people plan their activities, so, too, could seizure forecasting help patients living with epilepsy adjust their plans if they knew a seizure was imminent,” says Benjamin Brinkmann, Ph.D., an epilepsy scientist at Mayo Clinic and the senior author of the study published in Scientific Reports by Mayo Clinic.
The research is in early stages. For now, a safe and independent summer means doing all you can to help prevent seizures.
To learn more about epilepsy at Mayo Clinic or to request an appointment please visit mayoclinic.org/epilepsy or call (507) 229-6426.