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Understanding Epilepsy -- Prevention

Medically Reviewed by Christopher Melinosky, MD on April 26, 2021

How Can I Prevent Epilepsy?

There are numerous causes of epilepsy ranging from injury to illness and no two people have the same reaction. Epilepsy itself may have certain triggers which can lead to seizures. There are ways to try and prevent the seizures by identifying and watching for particular behaviors, environments, or physical and emotional signs that precede attacks. It's not uncommon, for example, to feel annoyed or elated several hours prior to a grand mal seizure, and immediately before the attack.

In addition, the person may become aware of a warning "aura" -- perhaps a taste or smell: This warning may allow you to lie down in time to avoid falling. In cases where the aura is a smell, some people are able to fight off seizures by sniffing a strong odor, such as garlic or roses. When the preliminary signs include depression, irritability, or headache, an extra dose of medication (with a doctor's approval) may help prevent an attack. In the case of a Jacksonian seizure, firmly squeezing the muscles around those that are twitching can sometimes halt the attack.

Take precautions if your seizures are not fully controlled. Avoid or limit alcohol, comply with your state's requirements for a seizure-free period prior to driving a vehicle, and educate family members on steps to minimize injury if you have a seizure. Tell them to protect you against falling, and to roll you onto your side if you lose consciousness.