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Epilepsy: Care Instructions


Epilepsy is a common condition that causes repeated seizures. The seizures are caused by bursts of electrical activity in the brain that aren't normal. Seizures may cause problems with muscle control, movement, speech, vision, or awareness. They can be scary.

Epilepsy affects each person differently. Some people have only a few seizures. Others get them more often. If you know what triggers a seizure, you may be able to avoid having one.

You can take medicines to control and reduce seizures. It may take time and careful changes by you and your doctor to find the right combination, schedule, and dose of medicine to best manage your epilepsy.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

To help control your seizures, follow your treatment plan. If you take medicine to control seizures, take it exactly as prescribed.

The medicine works best if you take the right amount on the schedule your doctor sets up. Following this schedule keeps the right level of medicine in your body. Even missing just a few doses can allow seizures to happen.

You might be on a special ketogenic diet. If so, follow the diet carefully.

As you follow your treatment plan, also try to figure out and avoid things that may make you more likely to have a seizure. These may include:

  • Not getting enough sleep.
  • Using drugs or alcohol.
  • Being stressed.
  • Skipping meals.

If you keep having seizures despite treatment, keep a record of them. Note the date, time of day, and any details about the seizure that you can remember. Your doctor can use this information to plan or adjust your medicine or other treatment. The record can also help your doctor find out what kinds of seizures you are having.

If you have epilepsy:

  • Be sure that any doctor who treats you knows that you have epilepsy. And let the doctor know what medicines you take, if any.
  • Wear a medical ID bracelet. If you have a seizure or an injury that leaves you unconscious or unable to speak for yourself, the bracelet will let those who are treating you know that you have epilepsy. It will also list any medicines you take to control your seizures. That way, you won't be given any medicines that will react badly with those already in your body.
  • Ask your doctor if it's safe for you to do things like drive or swim.
  • Create a seizure first-aid plan with your friends and family. The plan will help them know how to help you. The kind of plan you need can depend on the kind of seizures you have. Your doctor can tell you more about this.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • A seizure does not stop as it normally does.
  • You have new symptoms such as:
    • Numbness, tingling, or weakness on one side of your body or face.
    • Vision changes.
    • Trouble speaking or thinking clearly.

Call your doctor or nurse advice line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have a fever.
  • You have a severe headache.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse advice line if:

  • The normal pattern or features of your seizures change.

Where can you learn more?

Go to

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Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.