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ByZarafshan Shiraz, New Delhi

Epilepsy, a neurological disorder characterised by recurrent seizures, can be influenced by various triggers hence, recognising these triggers and implementing strategies to manage them is crucial for individuals living with epilepsy to optimise their seizure control and overall quality of life.

Seizure triggers: Identifying common triggers and ways to manage epilepsy (File Photo)

In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Dr Vinit Banga, Associate Director- Neurology and Head Neuro Intervention at BLK Max Super Speciality Hospital, revealed a list of common triggers that includes –

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  1. Lack of Sleep: Sleep deprivation is a well-known trigger for seizures in many individuals with epilepsy. Disrupted sleep patterns or insufficient sleep can lower the seizure threshold, making seizures more likely to occur. Addressing sleep hygiene practices such as maintaining a consistent sleep schedule, creating a relaxing bedtime routine, and avoiding stimulants like caffeine before bedtime can help promote better sleep quality and reduce the risk of seizures.
  2. Stress and Anxiety: Emotional stress and anxiety can trigger seizures in some individuals. Stressful life events, work pressures or interpersonal conflicts may exacerbate seizure activity. Implementing stress management techniques such as mindfulness meditation, deep breathing exercises, progressive muscle relaxation, or engaging in hobbies and activities that promote relaxation can help alleviate stress and reduce seizure frequency.
  3. Alcohol and Substance Use: Alcohol consumption and certain recreational drugs can lower seizure threshold and increase the risk of seizures. Excessive alcohol intake, as well as illicit drug use, can disrupt brain activity and trigger seizures in susceptible individuals. Limiting or avoiding alcohol consumption and abstaining from illicit drugs can help minimise the risk of seizures associated with substance use.
  4. Flashing Lights and Visual Stimuli: Visual stimuli such as flashing lights, flickering screens, or intense patterns can trigger seizures in some individuals, particularly those with photosensitive epilepsy. Taking precautions such as avoiding environments with strobe lights, using screen filters or anti-glare settings on electronic devices, and wearing polarized sunglasses outdoors can help reduce exposure to triggering visual stimuli.
  5. Hormonal Changes: Hormonal fluctuations, such as those occurring during menstruation, pregnancy, or menopause, can influence seizure activity in some women with epilepsy. Tracking menstrual cycles, discussing hormonal management options with healthcare providers, and maintaining overall hormonal balance through lifestyle factors such as regular exercise and a balanced diet may help manage seizures associated with hormonal changes.

Managing Triggers:

Dr Shrey Srivastav, Associate Professor- Internal Medicine at Sharda Hospital in Greater Noida, recommended –

  1. Keep a Seizure Diary: Maintaining a seizure diary can help identify patterns and potential triggers for seizures. Recording details such as seizure frequency, timing, duration, and any associated factors such as sleep patterns, stress levels, and medication changes can provide valuable insights into seizure triggers. Healthcare providers can use this information to tailor treatment plans and recommend personalized strategies for managing triggers.
  2. Medication Adherence: Adhering to prescribed medication regimens is essential for seizure control. Missing doses or inconsistent medication use can increase the risk of breakthrough seizures, especially in individuals with epilepsy. Using medication reminders, establishing a daily routine for medication administration, and communicating openly with healthcare providers about any concerns or side effects can support medication adherence.
  3. Healthy Lifestyle Habits: Adopting a healthy lifestyle can help reduce the impact of potential triggers on seizure control. Regular physical activity, a balanced diet, adequate hydration, and avoiding excessive caffeine and alcohol consumption can contribute to overall well-being and seizure management. Engaging in stress-reducing activities, cultivating social support networks, and seeking professional help for mental health concerns can also enhance resilience to potential triggers.
  4. Environmental Modifications: Making modifications to the living environment can help create a safer space for individuals with epilepsy. This may include removing potential hazards such as sharp objects or hard surfaces, installing seizure alarms or monitoring devices, and ensuring adequate lighting and accessibility.

Dr Shrey Srivastav advised, “Educating family members, friends, coworkers and caregivers about epilepsy and seizure first aid protocols can increase awareness and support for seizure management in various settings. Recognising common triggers for epilepsy and implementing effective strategies to manage them are essential components of seizure management and overall well-being for individuals living with epilepsy.”

By identifying and addressing triggers through lifestyle modifications, medication management, environmental adjustments and stress reduction techniques, individuals with epilepsy can optimise their seizure control and lead fulfilling lives. Working closely with healthcare providers and support networks can provide valuable guidance and resources for navigating the challenges associated with epilepsy management.

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