Can You Prevent Seizures?

A fever, a brain injury from an accident, a medical condition -- anything that changes the normal pattern of activity in your brain can cause a seizure. It can be scary, especially when you don't know why it happened.

Whatever the cause, you can usually take steps to help prevent or limit how often you get them. Figuring out what might trigger a seizure is important, especially if you're one of the few people not helped, or not helped enough, by medication. Keep a detailed record of your seizures that you can go over with your doctor to help you find patterns.

Possible Causes

If you have diabetes, you could have a seizure when your blood sugar drops too low. It's rare, but people with an autoimmune disorder, like MS, lupus, or celiac or thyroid disease, might have one.

Sometimes they're because of faulty wiring or a chemical imbalance in your brain. If you have more than two without another obvious explanation, you likely have epilepsy.

Most of the time, though, doctors don't find a specific reason. These are called idiopathic seizures.

Treatment

When there's a medical cause, like low blood sugar from diabetes, you'll need to manage the condition to keep seizures in check.

For epilepsy, taking your prescribed medication is key. Sometimes finding the right one is a process of elimination. It may take a few tries. Medication works for about 4 out of 5 adults who are diagnosed with epilepsy. Don't change your medication schedule -- or switch to a generic version of the drug -- unless you get the OK from your doctor.

Different kinds of implants, put into your brain during surgery, can send out signals to stop seizures. One of these may be an option if you have epilepsy and your medication isn't working well enough.

Hormones

Some women with epilepsy have more or different types of seizures in the middle of their monthly cycle, or just before or at the start of their periods. Avoid other triggers during these times, if you can, to lessen the chances of having a seizure.

Work closely with your doctor when you start birth control pills and hormone replacement therapy, since these could change the pattern of your seizures.

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Brain Injury

Take simple steps to avoid knocking your noggin, which could raise the odds of a seizure. Start by always wearing your seat belt.

Protect your head with a helmet when you ride a bike, scooter, motorcycle, or snowmobile. Also wear a helmet for sports such as football, boxing, and baseball when you could get banged into or hit, and for sports where you could fall like skateboarding, snowboarding, and horseback riding.

Keep walkways clear of clutter. Use handrails on stairs and non-slip mats in the bathroom. Jog on park paths rather than in high-traffic areas or on unpaved trails.

Bright Lights and Noise

Kids and teens have a slim chance that specific kinds of flashing lights or patterns will trigger a seizure. If you're sensitive, you can:

  • Wear polarized sunglasses, especially around sunlight that shimmers on water and flickers through trees.
  • Turn down the brightness on TV and computer screens, make sure the room is lit well, and don't sit close to screens.
  • Take frequent breaks from looking at screens.
  • Cover one eye (not both) while playing video games, and change it up. Don't play when you're tired.

Noise can be a trigger for some people, too. Wear earplugs or earbuds in loud, crowded places when you can safely. Moderately fast music at a fairly steady volume -- Mozart in particular -- may help even out your brain waves.

Take Care of Yourself

Being short on sleep and feeling stressed are common triggers. Everyday tension plus the fear of a seizure can even create a cycle. Stick to a regular sleep schedule, and find ways to deal with your worries and feelings.

Exercise and physical activity may help limit seizures, relieve stress, and boost your mood. Yoga and deep breathing are great ways to relax.

If you have a problem with alcohol or drugs, work with your doctor to cut back. Going cold turkey on your own could bring on a seizure.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Jennifer Robinson, MD on August 09, 2019

Sources

SOURCES:

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke: "Epilepsy Information Page."

Epilepsy Foundation: "Self-Management Programs," "Women With Epilepsy," "Hormonal Changes," "Exercise," "Photosensitivity and Seizures," "Noises," "Tips for Lifestyle Modification."

Neurologic Clinics: "Starting, Choosing, Changing, and Discontinuing Drug Treatment for Epilepsy Patients."

CDC: "Epilepsy: Frequently Asked Questions," "Traumatic Brain Injury & Concussion."

Epilepsia: "Systemic and neurologic autoimmune disorders associated with seizures or epilepsy."

Merck Manual: "Seizure Disorders."

CURE: "Diagnosis & Therapies."

Neurology Times: "Music Therapy for Epilepsy."

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