What is epilepsy?

  • A fit is caused by abnormal chemical activity in the brain.
  • A doctor diagnoses epilepsy after a person has had two or more fits and no treatable cause is found.
  • Epilepsy is not a mental illness nor is it infectious. It is usually lifelong.
  • Epilepsy can affect anybody, no matter how clever or rich they are.
  • The goal of epilepsy treatment is to not have any fits.

What can help you reach your goal for epilepsy?

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Manage your triggers

  • Identify the things that might trigger your fits.
  • Avoid common triggers like flashing lights, video games, alcohol and drugs.

Look after yourself

  • Have a healthy lifestyle. 
  • Look after your mental health.
  • Get enough sleep.
  • Drink sufficient fluids.
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Be safe

A fit may cause injury.

  • Avoid dangerous situations like swimming alone, walking or cycling on busy roads, heights or operating heavy machinery.
  • Do not drive a car if you had a fit in the past year.

Keep a check on your condition

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  • Keep a fit diary. Record when you have a fit, how long it lasted and what might have triggered it.
  • Take the diary to your appointments to help your healthcare worker decide if and how to adjust your treatment.

Take your medication as instructed​

Prevent fits by taking your medication regularly to avoid injury and brain damage.

  • Keep taking your medication every day, even if you have no fits. It should never run out.
  • Tell the doctor, nurse or pharmacist about your epilepsy treatment if you get other medication to check that they can be taken safely together.
  • Check the medication list to understand how your medication works and what side effects it might cause.
  • If you have too much medication left over or are unsure how to take it, ask your healthcare worker.

Know when to seek healthcare

What to do if someone is having a fit:

  • Place them in a safe place.
  • Do not put anything in their mouth.
  • When the fit stops, lie them on their side and make sure they can breathe properly. They may be confused or sleep for about 20 minutes.
  • Get help if the fit continues for more than 3 minutes, if they do not wake up between fits or if they injure themselves during the fit.
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Make contact with your healthcare facility if:

  • You run out of medication.
  • You don’t understand how to take your medication.
  • You have an appointment for a check-up.
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