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?
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.
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
- 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.
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.