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Purple Day of Epilepsy 2023: Top lifestyle changes for managing seizures

By, New Delhi
Mar 26, 2023 08:00 AM IST

Purple Day is celebrated every year on March 26 to raise awareness about epilepsy. Here are the lifestyle changes for people living with the brain disorder.

Epilepsy is a chronic disorder of the brain that affects brain's ability to transmit electrical impulses which could lead to seizures. Epilepsy cannot be cured but can be managed with medication and a series of lifestyle changes. Controlling the triggers of the disorder can reduce the number of seizures one experience. While not skipping medication is most important, there are certain lifestyle factors that can greatly reduce the risk of seizures. Not sleeping well is one of the most common triggers for seizures and one must develop a proper sleep routine and do regular exercise for sound sleep. A balanced diet with all the essential nutrients, reduced stress and leading a healthy social life can all prevent seizures. (Also read: Health experts bust myths related to epileptic seizures)

Epilepsy accounts for a significant proportion of the world affecting 50 million people worldwide. (Shutterstock)
Epilepsy accounts for a significant proportion of the world affecting 50 million people worldwide. (Shutterstock)

Epilepsy accounts for a significant proportion of the world affecting 50 million people worldwide. Each year an estimated 5 million people are diagnosed with epilepsy. In India, more than 10 million patients are suffering with Epilepsy, 20% out 50 million worldwide. Purple Day is an international awareness day dedicated to raising awareness about epilepsy and reducing the stigma surrounding this neurological disorder. Observed annually on March 26, the aim of Purple Day is to encourage people to learn more about epilepsy, recognize the signs of a seizure, and support those living with this condition. By coming together to raise awareness and support those affected by epilepsy, we can help improve the lives of millions of people around the world, says Dr Ravindra Srivastava, Director, Neurosciences, Primus Superspeciality Hospital.

What is epilepsy

Epilepsy is a neurological disorder that affects the central nervous system, resulting in recurrent seizures. Seizures are the primary symptom of epilepsy and can manifest in different ways, such as convulsions, staring spells, loss of consciousness, and muscle spasms. After a seizure, some people with epilepsy may experience confusion, disorientation, or memory loss and while medication is the primary treatment for epilepsy, lifestyle changes can also help manage the condition, says Dr Aditya Gupta, Director, Neurosurgery and Cyberknife Centre, Artemis Hospital Gurgaon.

What are seizures?

Seizures are the primary symptom of epilepsy. They occur when there is a sudden surge of electrical activity in the brain. The symptoms of a seizure can vary widely depending on the type and severity of the seizure. Some people experience a brief loss of awareness or consciousness, while others have convulsions and lose control of their limbs, says Dr Srivastava.

Medically intractable epilepsy

Medically intractable epilepsy is a severe form of epilepsy that cannot be controlled with medication. People with this type of epilepsy may experience multiple seizures per day, which can severely impact their quality of life. Treatment options for medically intractable epilepsy may include surgery or implantable devices that can help regulate brain activity, adds Dr Srivastava.

Lifestyle changes for epilepsy

Lifestyle Modifications can turn out to be a key to manage epilepsy. You should have sufficient sleep on a daily basis. Fatigue is considered as one of the most common seizure triggers and interrupted sleep may put your brain at the risk of misfiring. Good sleep may keep you calm and help lower a trigger of epilepsy. Refrain from use of drugs and alcohol as these can become the cause of seizures in patients with epilepsy. Even one or two drinks may aggravate seizures. You should reduce emotional stress as maintaining healthy stress levels may play a vital role in lowering the risk of developing this neurological condition. Do regular exercise as it also helps minimize risk of seizure. It is advisable to seek advice from your clinical consultant before beginning a new exercise routine, as some exercise may rarely lead to seizures, says Dr. Rohit Kumar, Head Emergency, Marengo Asia Hospital, Faridabad.

Sound sleep

Sleeping on time, waking up on time, and getting enough sleep will help you relax and lessen a trigger, says Dr Pavan Pai, Consultant Interventional Neurologist, Wockhardt Hospitals, Mira Road.

Exercise regularly

Regular exercise can help reduce stress, improve mood, and reduce the frequency and severity of seizures in some people with epilepsy, says Dr Aditya Gupta, Director, Neurosurgery and Cyberknife Centre, Artemis Hospital Gurgaon.

Avoid alcohol

Avoiding alcohol is important for two reasons if you have epilepsy. The first is that alcohol can be a trigger in and of itself, and the second is that anti-epileptic medicines cannot be taken with alcohol, says Dr Pai. Avoid triggers

Certain triggers, such as stress, lack of sleep, flashing lights, and alcohol, can trigger seizures in people with epilepsy. It's essential to identify and avoid these triggers, says Dr Gupta.

Keep a diary

Write down your everyday routine so you can figure out what you did on the day you had a seizure. This will assist you in narrowing down triggers, says Dr Pai.

Balanced diet

A healthy, balanced diet that includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can help keep the body healthy and reduce the risk of seizures, says Dr Gupta.

Manage stress

Stress can trigger seizures in some people with epilepsy. Practicing stress-reducing techniques like meditation, deep breathing, or yoga can be helpful, adds Dr Gupta.

Monitor your medicine

If you become unwell with another ailment, notify your doctor that you are an epileptic. Some drugs have a negative interaction with anti-epileptic therapy, says Dr Pai.

Limit the screen time

For people with photosensitive epilepsy, flashing lights from screens like TVs, computers, and video games can trigger seizures. Limiting screen time or using screen filters can help reduce the risk of seizures, says Dr Gupta.

Always stay hydrated

Dehydration can trigger seizures in some people with epilepsy. Be sure to drink plenty of water and stay hydrated throughout the day, adds Dr Gupta.

Request assistance

Create a strong support network so that everyone around you are aware of your illness and know how to assist you if you have a seizure, says Dr Pai.

Maintain frequent check-ups

You should see a Neurology Expert on a regular basis to ensure that you are taking the right dosage of your anti-epileptic medication. Another reason to check with your doctor on a frequent basis is that new types of medication to help manage seizures are continuously being introduced to the market, and your physicians may be able to update you on a better treatment to manage your epilepsy, says Dr Pai.

Dr Srivastava suggests tips to help people suffering from epileptic seizures:

If you witness someone having a seizure, it is essential to stay calm and take the following steps:

1. Keep the person safe: Clear the area around the person to prevent injury. Remove any sharp or hard objects that could cause harm.

2. Protect the person's head: If possible, place something soft, like a jacket or pillow, under the person's head to cushion it.

3. Turn the person on their side: If the person is lying down, turn them onto their side to help prevent choking.

4. Time the seizure: Note the time when the seizure began and how long it lasts. This information can be helpful for medical professionals.

5. Do not restrain the person: Do not try to restrain the person or put anything in their mouth during the seizure.

6. Stay with the person: Once the seizure has ended, stay with the person until they are fully alert and oriented.

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