Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Exercise and Epilepsy

Do I have to stop exercising with Epilepsy?

I mentioned in the last post that exercise is not bad for people with Epilepsy. Actually, studies have show that seizures happen less often when people exercise more. Seizures during exercise are also very rare. So, what are you waiting for? Get to exercising! Here are a list of some benefits to exercising with Epilepsy:

  • Lowers the chance of a seizure.
  • Increases control on oncoming seizures.
  • Helps put you in a good mood.
  • Lessens sleep problems and muscle pains.
  • Improves self-esteem.
  • Increases overall wellness.
Here is a great video below about Diane Van Deren. She learned she could manage her seizures through exercise. Though this is not always the case. It shows that exercise can really help some people with Epilepsy. 

What do I need to remember before I start exercising?

Though exercise can help with Epilepsy and overall health, there are still some questions you should ask before you start. Some basic steps you should take to starting exercise after an Epilepsy diagnosis are:

  • Consult your doctor. Your history with exercise and your specific type of seizures are important things to think about when choosing exercise. Your doctor can help you decide what will help you be healthier without putting you under too much stress. 
  • Do not push yourself too hard. If you feel any sort of pain, you will want to take a break. Your body may see this as stress and it could trigger a seizure. 
  • Drink lots of water and have snacks when needed. This is also to avoid overworking your body. You want to make sure your body is getting everything it needs. This goes for all people, not just people with epilepsy.
  • Tell people when you are going to exercise. If you plan on working out alone, tell someone what you are doing and where you are going. If something happens, they will know where to find you.
  • Have an emergency cell phone nearby. 
photo taken from: http://www.bagnewsnotes.com/image.php?image=http://www.bagnewsnotes.com/wp-content/files_flutter/1374094720Screen-Shot-2013-01-09-at-9.36.21-PM.png&height=485
  • Avoid contact sports or water sports. Alright, so the above picture may be a bit extreme, but it makes the point. You never know what will happen in a high contact sport. Sadly, high contact sports put a lot of strain on the body most of the time.  So, it is best to stick to non-contact or low-contact sports.                                                   
photo taken from:http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=&imgrefurl=http%3A%2F%2Fdwnloadwallpapers.com%2Fswimming-lake&h=0&w=0&tbnid=p7DahVpk9J3SzM&zoom=1&tbnh=183&tbnw=275&docid=YCYrkFS62sXEyM&tbm=isch&ei=zOSgU9qVA8GsyATUxIC4CA&ved=0CAUQsCUoAQ
  • It is also dangerous to participate in water activities if not monitored properly. Seizures, at the end of the day, are not easily controlled. You will learn to know when you are having a seizure, but this will not stop them from happening. You may not be able to get to safety in time. You do not want to be in a place where people cannot get to you if a seizure happens. So, always wear a life vest and have several people nearby who can help if needed. 
When does exercise become dangerous for my Epilepsy?

Exercise, in normal amounts, is helpful for overall health and seizure control. When you push yourself too hard, the stress your body experiences may see this as a trigger. Some examples of exercise triggers include:
  • Little sleep
  • Not enough water
  • Very high body temperatures 
  • Low blood sugar
If you do not (in normal amounts or when needed) get sleep, drink water, take breaks, and eat small snacks, exercise will become a seizure trigger. Healthy habits equal a healthy body. A health body means you can play all the sports you want. Taking care of yourself will always come first. 

Daily Living with Epilepsy

What is going to be different living with Epilepsy?

There are many parts of life that will be different when living with Epilepsy. Fear not, though! All  these changes can be made with time. The Center for Epilepsy and Seizure Awareness does a great job covering some of the basic areas of life that are different and the hardest to get used to when living with Epilepsy. They list the hardest areas depending on your age: child, teen or young adult, and adult. Some of the challenges you may face with Epilepsy include:

  • Telling friends and family about your condition.
  • Having seizures very often.
  • Being afraid of having seizures in public.
  • Missing school or work.
  • Understanding what your medicine does.
  • Remembering to take your medicine.
  • Having trouble with memory.
  • Learning how to know when a seizure may be coming.
  • Dealing with stress.
  • Using special diets and workouts.
  • Being upset about having Epilepsy.

Feel free to refer to the Center for Epilepsy and Seizure Awareness website for some more facts about living with Epilepsy. I have included the link below.


Will I really have all of these problems?

Of course not! These are just a few areas that people with Epilepsy often struggle with. The most important thing to know is that all of it is normal.  You are not alone. We all feel different when we face changes in our life. One of the best ways to cope with all of these changes is to join a support group. Look online for places where you live that might offer some support.  You may also ask your doctor. They can always point you in the right direction or point you to someone who can.

Here is an interview with Miss Jenny LaBaw. She talks about how she has dealt with her Epilepsy while still living her dreams:

Having a hard time finding support groups in your area?

Fear not! There is a ton of support groups online. If you are underage, make sure your parents are aware of what you want. If you are an adult, feel free to explore your options online. I have included a list of some great support sites below. If you or a friend know of any others, please leave a comment below with the type, link, or location of the support!

Epilepsy Support Forums and Chat Rooms:

Knowledge and support for Epilepsy is growing every day. So, remember:

photo taken from: http://sd.keepcalm-o-matic.co.uk/i/keep-calm-and-support-epilepsy.png 

Want some more information on how to work, go to school, pursue your goals with Epilepsy? 

The Edmonton Epilepsy Association published this excellent booklet on Epilepsy. It covers what to expect and some simple things to pay close attention to on a daily basis. It also offers some advice for work, school, taking medicine, working out, and much much more! If you have the time, it is a great read.  I know we are all busy though, so I will summarize some key daily living tips from the pamphlet:

  • Remember to take your medicine on time and DO NOT SKIP. Medication is the main way Epilepsy is treated. It is important to always take your medicine. If you do not like the effects of your medicine, talk to your doctor about other medicines. One of the most common ways to cause a seizure when you have epilepsy is by skipping your medicine. It will take time to get used to, but try talking with your support groups or friends and family to try and make it easier.
  • Exercise is good for you! You do not have to stop exercising when you have Epilepsy. Studies have shown exercise actually lowers stress and can help prevent seizures. Things like tennis, basketball, running, golfing, and volleyball are all great choices. Try to avoid high contact sports like tackle football and hockey. Always have someone who knows about your condition nearby just to be safe.

  • Avoid getting down by telling a friend. Epilepsy is hard. It is normal to feel upset and angry. Sadly, this means people with Epilepsy are more likely to experience depression. The more people you share your feelings with, the more support you will have. You do not have to be happy about your condition, but you also do not have to be alone. Talk to your doctor if talking to others is not helping and you are feeling depressed.
  • Identification jewelry is very helpful. Sometimes you do not want to tell people about your condition. That is perfectly alright! To be on the safe side though, try getting a medical necklace or bracelet that names your condition. That way, if you do have a seizure, people nearby and also doctors will know how to help. There are many different options. Here is an example below: 

photo taken from: http://www.medicalbraceletsonline.com/_files/image/WC1050.jpg

Where can I buy an Epilepsy bracelet/necklace?

Glad you asked! Here are some great websites that offer Epilepsy medical jewelry:

Some of these resources provide a little bit more information on Epilepsy so you can learn while you shop! So, take your time exploring each website. You never know what you might find.

Here is the link to the Edmonton Epilepsy Association pamphlet:

Leave a comment below if you have more questions about daily living with Epilepsy.

I have Epilepsy. What should I ask my doctor?

Questions to Ask a Doctor about Epilepsy

Are you sure I have Epilepsy? How is it diagnosed?

It is okay to be a little bit nervous about having Epilepsy. We always want to be sure we know why and how doctors decide what is going on with our bodies. It is okay to ask your doctor to explain the process to you. This can help put some of those worries at ease. Below is a video that gives a little bit of information on how Epilepsy is diagnosed.

What are the different treatments for Epilepsy and what are the side effects of Epilepsy medicine?
  • There are over 18+ prescription medications for epileptic patients. If the one your doctor prescribes is causing some difficult side effects. Don’t worry. There are many more options. Ask your doctor about what medications can help you avoid some tougher symptoms like drowsiness or lack of focus.
What precautions should pregnant women take?
  • If you are pregnant or someone you love has epilepsy and is pregnant, it is important for you to talk to your doctor about managing epilepsy and protecting the future child. Sometimes medications taken during pregnancy can affect the baby while breastfeeding. Your doctor can help you determine if your medications may affect your pregnancy. As long as you have great prenatal care and an open relationship with your doctor, having health children is absolutely possible.
What is epilepsy surgery?
  • Epilepsy is caused by abnormal brain activity. Our brains function much like a computer or any other electronic item. They depend on good wiring and electricity. When the wires get crossed or the electricity is too much or too little, the whole system fails. In epilepsy surgery, the doctor attempts to identify the parts of the brain that are causing the seizures.   Asking your doctor about what surgery would include can help you decide whether or not this is something that you may want to pursue.
Who may be able to have epilepsy surgery? 
  • Depending on how bad the seizure, some doctors may recommend surgery. Epilepsy surgery involves removing the part of the brain that is causing the seizures. If your medications do not seem to be helping, ask your doctor if surgery may be an option.  

Your doctor wants to help! So do not be afraid to ask any question you can think of!

photo taken from: http://static.ddmcdn.com/gif/epilepsy-4.jpg 

My loved one has Epilepsy? What do I do?

Recommendations for Family Members of Epileptic Patients

How do I correctly handle seizures?

The Mayo Clinic recommends the following guidelines when confronted with a seizure:
  1. Be calm.
  2. Place something soft under their head.
  3. Carefully roll the person onto one side.
  4. Do not put anything in their mouth.
  5. Do not restrain the individual.
  6. Clear dangerous objects away.
  7. Stay with the person until medical help arrives.
  8. Observe the person closely so you can provide details on the seizure circumstances.
  9. Time the seizure.
  10. Loosen tight neck-ware.

What hardships do individuals face when dealing with loved ones with epilepsy?

Most of the time our first instinct is to shelter someone who we know is a little different. We do this as a loving friend or family member out of a desire to protect that person. However, coddling an individual with epilepsy will only increase their risk for depression and their perceived independence. The best way to handle individuals in our lives who may suffer from this condition is as normally as possible.

How can family or friends of epileptic individuals cope?

Open lines of communication and regular emotional discussion can help manage the ups and downs that come with a epilepsy diagnosis. You want to make sure everyone is fully educated on the condition, what it is, and what their concerns and opinions are.   It is important to be understanding with all individuals involved to aid regular communication. The key is to learn as much as you can about both epilepsy and the successful coping methods of other individuals with the condition.

Look at the photo below if you still are unsure on how to handle a seizure:
photo taken from: http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=&imgrefurl=http%3A%2F%2Fewct.org.nz%2Ffirst-aid-for-seizure-diagram%2F&h=0&w=0&tbnid=eD5kh7TlidsghM&zoom=1&tbnh=202&tbnw=249&docid=bpMbMgco3TOuuM&tbm=isch&ei=rKWgU8LYJeq-8QGOnID4Cw&ved=0CAIQsCUoAA  

Getting to know Epilepsy: What is it?

What is Epilepsy? What causes the condition?
Epilepsy is most commonly called as a “seizure disorder”. Seizures are the result of non-normal activity in the brain.  The seizures that result from epilepsy can be bad for your overall health. There are a wide range of seizure types and they are different for each person. The causes of Epilepsy might include disease, poisoning, head injury, or a brain tumor. Sadly, most cases of Epilepsy do not have a known cause. According to the Mayo Clinic, around 50% of patients with Epilepsy do not know the cause of their condition.  Individuals are diagnosed with the condition after having at least two seizures that seem not to have any clear medical cause.

But wait, explain it to me more PLEASE!!

For those people out there who want to know more about the science behind Epilepsy, I found a great handout that gives you a bit more information. It can be a little overwhelming at first, but leave any messages if you have questions or want me to explain further! Always ask questions. Your body will thank you and so will your mind.

In case the writing is too small, the original link is included below the image to help you get a better view.

handout taken from: http://www.medicalexhibits.com/plagaty/9867-1.jpg
What are the symptoms?
The symptoms of Epilepsy are most commonly associated with the experience of seizures.  Some of the clearest symptoms, as defined by the Mayo Clinic, are psychic symptoms, loss of awareness or consciousness, jerking motions of arms and legs, staring spells, or short moments of confusion. 
What can I expect in the long run with Epilepsy?
Unfortunately, individuals with Epilepsy are more likely to experience other health risks. Some of the most common areas that are affected by this condition are injury, illness, thinking, memory, sleep, mood and behavior. Keeping a careful eye out for which areas are most affected can help stop long term damage. It can also help to identify the best path of treatment for the future.
Where can I look to get more information?
The following URL’s provide excellent information on Epilepsy diagnosis, treatment, and management:

The image below shows the brain waves most people have. The image next to it shows the brain waves of people with epilepsy.
Photo taken from: http://livingwellwithepilepsy.com/wp-content/uploads/blogger/_E8vqQ--lvIQ/TDKCT1LkEUI/AAAAAAAAAFc/2sVtDr0iaGI/s1600/epilepsy.jpg