It may not be possible to stop all cases of seizures. However, you can take steps to reduce the risk and protect yourself from triggering seizures. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 25% of cases of epilepsy are preventable with proper care.
This article explains how to prevent seizures and, in some cases, reduce the risk of epilepsy. This article also explains when to seek medical help.
Here are 11 techniques to reduce the risk of seizures.
1. Follow your treatment plan
Following your prescribed treatment plan may be the most effective way to prevent seizures. Research from a 2017 study suggests that anti-epileptic drugs effectively control seizures in about 60-70% of people with epilepsy.
To make your treatment plan more effective, take your medications exactly as your doctor has prescribed and follow their additional advice. Do not stop taking the prescribed medications, even if you feel your seizures are getting better.
Skipping medications and other factors that compromise treatment can put you at risk for more attacks. Also, you may develop additional health complications.
If you think your current treatment plan isn’t working effectively or is difficult to follow, talk to your doctor. They can advise you on other epilepsy treatment options.
2. Track your seizures and triggers
Recording information about your seizures can help you identify when seizures occur and what their triggers may be. Also note the side effects of the treatment, any changes in your seizures, and the impacts your treatment seems to be having.
You may begin to notice patterns that lead to seizures, including:
- specific activities you do before seizures occur
- a particular time of day seizures occur
- how you feel, like tired or sick
- hormonal changes, such as during menstruation
This information will help doctors provide the most effective care and help you avoid your own personal triggers.
3. Consult a doctor before taking new medications and supplements
Certain medications, including over-the-counter medications and prescription medications, can affect how antiepileptics work. This can both impact the effectiveness of medications in preventing seizures and cause negative side effects. In addition, antiepileptic drugs can impact the effectiveness and safety of other drugs.
Always contact your doctor before making any changes to your medication or supplement routine.
4. Manage stress and anxiety
Stress is a common trigger for seizures. Therefore, finding a way to manage and reduce stress appropriately can help prevent flare-ups.
Stress management techniques include:
- meeting your needs, such as eating healthy, sleeping well and taking breaks
- deep breathing
- meditation or mindfulness therapy
- psychological counseling and therapy
- reach out to people you trust
- avoiding drugs and alcohol
5. Limit alcohol consumption
Heavy drinking over a short period of time can cause some people to have an epileptic seizure. Additionally, high levels of alcohol can reduce the effectiveness of anti-epileptic drugs, further increasing the risk of a seizure.
However, if you have an alcohol use disorder, contact a doctor for advice on how to safely reduce your alcohol intake. Alcohol withdrawal can also cause seizures.
6. Avoid substance abuse
Certain medications and drug intoxication are common causes of seizures. Seizures can occur with substance abuse, including recreational drugs and prescription medications.
Consult with your doctor about any medications and supplements you take to make sure you are using them appropriately.
Also talk to a doctor if you are having difficulty with legal or illegal substance abuse.
7. Optimize the quality of your sleep
People often report that sleep deprivation and fatigue are triggers for seizures. Good quality sleep can reduce the risk of seizures.
Techniques to optimize sleep quality include:
- go to bed at the same time and wake up at the same time every day
- make your sleep environment dark, quiet and relaxing
- remove electronic devices and sources of blue light from your sleep environment
- avoiding the use of such devices before sleeping
- avoiding caffeine, alcohol, and large meals before bed
- exercise regularly
8. Keep Mealtimes Regular
Not eating enough or regularly enough can lead to hypoglycemia or low blood sugar. Low blood sugar can cause seizures.
Therefore, if you are diabetic or prone to hypoglycemia, plan regular meals and carry glucose sources with you.
9. Protect yourself from head injuries
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) can trigger seizures in people who have previously been diagnosed with epilepsy and in people who have never had a seizure before. Seizures can happen anytime, immediately after a TBI and years later.
TBI can also cause a person to develop long-term epilepsy. According to the CDC, the more severe the injury, the more likely a person is to develop epilepsy.
Protective methods to avoid TBI may include:
- install and use seat belts and car seats as recommended
- never drive under the influence of alcohol or other substances
- wearing a properly fitted helmet while playing sports and riding open vehicles such as motorcycles
- prevent falls
Seek emergency medical attention after a suspected head or neck injury.
Learn more about fall prevention.
10. Avoid infections and be careful when sick
Discomfort can trigger a seizure in people with or without epilepsy. For instance:
- Some brain infections can cause seizures in people without epilepsy or cause people to develop the condition.
- Certain medications, such as antibiotics, can impact the effectiveness of antiepileptic medications.
- Fever can trigger febrile seizures in children with or without epilepsy. Although febrile seizures do not cause long-term health problems, they can increase the risk of developing epilepsy.
Seek immediate medical attention if your child has a high fever or call 911 if they have a seizure.
Also, if you have epilepsy and are not feeling well, contact your doctor for advice on how to treat your condition and avoid triggering a seizure.
You can also reduce the risk of epilepsy as a result of illness by:
- to get vaccinated
- have a balanced diet
- exercise regularly
- wash your hands regularly
- prepare food hygienically
- NO SMOKING
11. Avoid flashing lights and other strong stimuli
For some people, strong stimuli trigger seizures. It’s photosensitive epilepsy. Trigger stimuli vary from person to person, but can include:
- flashing lights
- loud noises
- patterns, geometric shapes or certain situations, such as:
- water reflecting sunlight
- light shining through the trees
Photosensitive epilepsy is rare, and not everyone needs to avoid the same triggers.
When to Seek Medical Help
Talk to your doctor if you have any concerns about the management and treatment of seizures. This may include concerns about effectiveness, side effects, and ability to follow treatments.
Also, contact your doctor if you notice any change in your seizure patterns and symptoms, such as frequency or severity.
Call 911 for the following symptoms
Not all seizures are medical emergencies, but some require immediate medical attention.
Dial 911 or seek emergency care in any of the following circumstances:
- The seizure is believed to be the person’s first.
- The seizure lasts 5 minutes or more.
- The seizure occurs while the person is in the water.
- The person has difficulty regaining consciousness or breathing after the seizure.
- The person has a second seizure shortly after the first.
- The person is pregnant.
- The person has another underlying health condition, such as diabetes or heart disease.
- The person has a seizure after a suspected head or neck injury.
Learn more about first aid for seizures.
Nancy Hammond, MD, has reviewed the following frequently asked questions.
Does CBD Prevent Seizures?
Cannabidiol, or CBD, is an extract of Cannabis-sativa non-psychotropic plant.
Although research is ongoing, evidence suggests that CBD may be effective in preventing seizures and treating epilepsy. This offers a particular advantage for those whose epilepsy does not respond to other medications.
However, everyone who experiences seizures will respond to different treatments in different ways, and what works for one person may not work for another.
What foods prevent seizures?
Some doctors recommend a ketogenic diet to help manage seizures and epilepsy. A ketogenic or “keto” diet involves eating high amounts of fat and low amounts of carbohydrates.
Here are some examples of ketogenic diet foods:
- meat, poultry and seafood
- whole milk products
- vegetable oils, nuts and seeds
- small amounts of non-starchy fruits and vegetables
Additionally, avoiding trigger foods and ingredients, such as caffeine and alcohol, can help prevent seizures.
It may not be possible to prevent seizures in all cases. However, you can take steps to reduce exposure to triggers and support seizure prevention.
Methods of preventing seizures include taking treatment as prescribed, monitoring and avoiding triggers, and supporting your health. This includes protection against head injuries.
If you think your current treatment plan is not managing your seizures effectively, contact your doctor for advice. Also, tell your doctor about any changes in your seizure symptoms.