Around the world, around 50 million people are affected by epilepsy, making it the most common serious neurological disease. Those who have epilepsy undergo recurrent and unprovoked seizures, which can affect their daily life in a host of different ways. It is important to differentiate between those who have provoked seizures, which occur following other health issues, such as infection, stroke, tumors, etc.
At its most basic, a seizure could be described as an "electrical storm in the brain." This can cause the normal electrochemical activity in the brain to short circuit. Even in the best of times, it can be challenging to live with epilepsy because it often changes the way that people have to approach different situations. In the current world, where we are also dealing with the global pandemic of COVID-19, things can be even more difficult.
Therefore, it is important to have an understanding of some facts surrounding COVID-19 and epilepsy as we know them right now.
Does COVID-19 Cause Epilepsy?
One of the questions that some people have been asking is whether it could cause someone to develop epilepsy. The International League Against Epilepsy has found that there is no direct evidence that an infection could cause epilepsy. Still, someone who may be susceptible to epilepsy will want to be aware because the virus can cause problems with breathing along with high fever.
Currently, there is not any information that suggests that having epilepsy or being treated for epilepsy will make someone more susceptible to COVID-19. There has not been any evidence to show that those who have epilepsy have any immune vulnerability that would put them at a higher risk.
Still, it is important to think about some of the stressors and triggers for seizures in some patients. High levels of stress, not getting enough sleep, and changes to a person’s lifestyle could cause someone who has epilepsy to have more seizures. It is important to consider this when isolating and limiting your exposure. As always, it is essential to find ways that you can attempt to reduce your levels of stress and to get plenty of sleep each night. It can be difficult given the current circumstances, but it is something that everyone who has epilepsy and who has seizures should be trying to do.
What If You Have a Seizure During the Pandemic?
Someone who has never had a seizure before and who has one now should certainly make it a point to talk with a neurologist and be examined as soon as possible. For those who already suffer from seizures, a single seizure might not be enough to warrant a visit to the ER. Instead, call your doctor and discuss what to do next. If the patient is suffering from cluster seizures or if they have continual seizures with no recovery between seizures, it should instead be treated as an emergency.
What Precautions Should Be Taken?
Those who have epilepsy should stock-up on their medications, and they should make sure that they are taking those mediations regularly. Skipping just one dose could cause a seizure to occur in some patients. As mentioned, it is also essential to find some ways to deal with stress while at home and to get plenty of sleep.
If the person with epilepsy has other conditions that could put them in a higher risk category for COVID-19, they should speak with their doctor about the types of precautions they will need to take. These conversations should take place on the phone or online, to ensure the patients are social distancing properly.
In addition to speaking with your doctor, you can also visit sites like the Epilepsy Foundation to learn more.