Managing epilepsy

Resources to help people living with epilepsy.
Doctor checking brain scan image
What’s epilepsy?

Epilepsy is a common condition that affects the brain, causing frequent seizures[1]. Seizures happen when there’s a sudden burst of intense electrical activity in the brain[2].

Epilepsy can be serious, and seizures often vary from person to person. But there is treatment and support available that can help you manage it well.

Find out more about seizures on the NHS website.

Doctor explaining scan to patient
How do I know if I have epilepsy?

The main symptom of epilepsy is frequent seizures[1]. You could find out you have epilepsy if you experience symptoms (have a seizure) and visit your GP. They might refer you to a specialist to find out more about what caused the seizure.

The specialist might suggest doing a test to check your brain activity, called an electroencephalogram (EEG), or a brain scan[1].

Find out more on the NHS website.

Women smiling
Ways to treat epilepsy

Some people will need to have lifelong treatment to help manage their epilepsy and keep seizures under control. Other people may be able to stop having treatment if their seizures disappear over time[1].

Pregnancy check up
Sodium valproate

Sodium valproate is commonly prescribed to treat epilepsy. Medication containing sodium valproate can cause birth defects in unborn babies. It’s important that women taking sodium valproate are aware of these risks and take appropriate measures to avoid getting pregnant while taking this medication.

Epilepsy and COVID-19

Research suggests that people with epilepsy who catch coronavirus could be at a slightly higher risk of having to go into hospital or of dying from coronavirus than people who don’t have epilepsy[3].

It’s not known if epilepsy itself causes this increased risk, or if it’s due to other factors.

For example, people with epilepsy might have other health conditions that are linked to an increased risk of becoming seriously ill with coronavirus. People with epilepsy might also be more likely to be in residential care, or have visits from carers which could increase their risk of catching coronavirus[3].

Find out more about coronavirus and epilepsy on the Epilepsy Action website.

Where can I get further support and information?

As well as talking to your pharmacist or GP, there are a number of charities and organisations offering support and information.

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Published

April 2021

Next review

April 2022

Reviewed by

Gill Stone MRPharmS

References

  1. 1.

    Epilepsy. nhs.uk. Published October 23, 2017. Accessed March 16, 2021.

    https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/epilepsy/
  2. 2.

    What is epilepsy? | Epilepsy Action. Accessed March 16, 2021.

    http://www.epilepsy.org.uk/info/what-is-epilepsy
  3. 3.

    Coronavirus (COVID-19) and epilepsy | COVID-19 | Epilepsy Action. Accessed March 17, 2021.

    http://www.epilepsy.org.uk/info/daily-life/safety/coronavirus-covid-19