Epilepsy and Teens
Teens, Dating, and Epilepsy continued...
One potentially awkward issue that you may want to bring up with your daughter is pregnancy. You may think it's too early to have this talk, but it's probably not. Teenagers with epilepsy may begin to wonder whether they'll be able to have a normal family, and whether their condition may cause problems with pregnancy.
The facts are reassuring: Most women with epilepsy have healthy children. However, epilepsy does increase some of the risks. Also, some epilepsy drugs may cause birth defects and others decrease the effectiveness of birth control. So, it's particularly important that women with epilepsy plan for pregnancy.
Teens, Epilepsy, Alcohol, and Drugs
Alcohol and a number of drugs, legal and illegal, can increase the risk of seizures. Although a lot of parents would rather avoid the topic, it's important to talk about these issues, especially if your child has epilepsy.
It's true that peer pressure can overwhelm any teenager's good sense, but your child may have more restraint than you expect. If he understands that drinking and doing drugs raise his risk of seizures, he really may avoid those substances. Remember, he really doesn't want to have seizures, either.
Epilepsy and Your Teen's Sleep
Many parents, irked when their teenager sleeps in past noon on Saturday mornings, don't worry about the kid getting enough sleep. Sometimes, it seems as though teens sleep the day away! But too little sleep is a real problem for many teens, and a particular risk for teens with epilepsy. Lack of sleep can lead to poor decisions and an increased risk of seizures.
Sleep deprivation is an especially serious problem for kids at college. "At exam time, kids may stay up for two or three nights cramming," says Turk. "And of course they celebrate by drinking like bandits. That combination can definitely result in seizures for people with epilepsy."
Without being too pushy, you should try to make sure that your child is getting enough rest. Too many late nights, whether he's out with his friends or up late doing homework, isn't a good idea. While a part-time job may be a good thing for your teenager -- in both emotional and financial ways -- make sure that he's not working so much that it's tiring him out.