Living with epilepsy can be fraught with unsafe scenarios, particularly for those prone to tonic-clonic seizures, the type that were once called grand mal seizures. Even if you have another type of seizure, you may be at risk any time there’s an interruption of motor control.
These interruptions, and their severity vary widely among those prone to seizures, so your level of risk may not be the same as others. How you handle risk is also a key factor in how you face the challenges of seizures. As with any life experience, it takes time and familiarity before you learn to effectively manage the conditions surrounding your unique case.
Types of seizures
The risks that your epilepsy presents depend on the one or more types of seizures to which you’re prone. Not all seizure types cause loss of motor control, and some types present a forewarning, commonly called an aura, that permits a person to take action before the onset of the main seizure event. Here are some of the most common seizure types:
- Focal seizures: you may be aware or unaware of your surroundings, your motor control may be affected, and you may have aura sensations prior to the seizure
- Tonic-Clonic seizures: formerly called grand mal seizures, you’ll lose consciousness during the tonic phase and your limbs will jerk during the clonic phase
- Focal-to-bilateral tonic-clonic seizures: a combination seizure that may present an aura at the start of the seizure
- Absence seizures: formerly called petit mal seizures, you’ll seem to zone out during the seizure, but you won’t fall, though you could be at risk because of a delayed response
- Tonic seizures: your muscles stiffen, and you’ll fall if you’re standing
- Atonic seizures: your muscles go limp, and you may fall if you’re standing
- Myoclonic seizures: jerky, spasmodic muscle movement can create risk depending on what you’re doing at the time of the episode
There are other types of seizures, and any type may exist in combination one or more others. Some types of seizure may also cluster together, increasing that type’s potential for negative impact.
Potentially deadly seizure-related risks
A seizure that affects either awareness or motor control could be potentially deadly if you’re operating a motor vehicle. Most states require that your seizures are under control and in remission for certain length of time before you’re allowed to drive.
Your risk of drowning while swimming or bathing with epilepsy could be nearly 20% higher than those without, depending on the types of seizures you experience. Enlist the assistance of a partner until you know how your seizures affect you.
Seizures that cause muscle rigidity or limpness can lead to falls. You’re at risk of serious head injuries due to the potentially uncontrolled nature of a fall, as well as your location and activity when the seizure occurs. Falling while crossing the street, for example, may put you at increased risk of being struck by a vehicle. As with water-related activities, enlisting another person’s aid ensures your safety as you establish your epileptic patterns.
Knowing and understanding factors that act as triggers for seizures may also be key in keeping yourself safe. This may mean taking extra steps to ensure you take anti-seizure medication as prescribed, avoiding situations involving flashing or flickering lights, or avoiding alcohol and recreational drugs. As with many factors related to epilepsy, each case has its own unique tendencies. Contact the professionals at Acadiana Neurosurgery to reach a better understanding of your epileptic condition.