When it comes to chronic conditions, no one really wants to discuss or acknowledge them. It makes us feel frustrated and powerless to think that someone we love suffers from something that we can’t heal, so we choose to put it behind us and pretend that everything is alright. While this strategy might work in the beginning, the truth is that it takes much more than this to help a patient that suffers from epilepsy.
Epilepsy has its origin in the human brain, and it is a condition that can’t be cured, in the best case it can be kept under control. Patients who suffer from it have seizures caused by electrical impulses sent by the brain in different parts of the body, and more often than not there is no apparent cause for the condition. While some doctors believe it is genetic, others say that brain injuries can cause it, but the result is always the same: patients with epilepsy need to make a lot of effort to lead a normal life from every point of view.
The seizures are unpredictable, which means that they can have one at any time, no matter where they are and what they are doing. This, of course, makes having a social life quite a challenge. Even though their friends and family understand their condition and support the patient no matter what, they feel depressed and overwhelmed by the fact that their disease can manifest in public at any moment. They can have a seizure while they are in a meeting, while they are on a date or simply when they watch TV in their home. This adds many restrictions on their life, including not being able to drive (it is not safe for them or others) or not being able to go into isolated places alone. The seizures vary from very easy ones to very intense, and the patient can suffer injuries if there is no one around to support them and make sure they don’t hurt themselves.
The good news is that epilepsy patients can learn how to delay their seizures, they can learn how to detect when one is approaching soon and they can avoid certain things that can trigger one. For example, if they find out their seizures are triggered by loud noises, they will be asked to avoid places where the noise is above normal level. If they live in a crowded city, it is a good idea to wear earplugs every time they are at risk of being exposed to intense noise. At the same time, it is not recommended to go to parties, fly on an airplane or live near stadiums or places where large groups gather..
Another stimulus that may need to be avoided is light, no matter if it is bright, florescent or flashing. Wearing sunglasses and having blinds or drapes to close can be very helpful. There are many music videos and movies that have flashing lights, so an epileptic person whose seizures are triggered by light should be aware of this when watching TV or going to a movie.
Doctors have found a connection between the amount and the quality of sleep of epileptic patients and the number of seizures they have in a certain period of time. It appears that the ones who get enough sleep and go to bed at the same time every day have a lower number of seizures, therefore the night routine should be clearly defined and adjusted according to the patient’s needs.
Natural Supplements for Epilepsy
There are many natural supplements that can benefit epilepsy and help reduces the severity and frequency of seizures. Listed below are a few of the more important ones.
- GABA and Essential Fatty Acids act on the central nervous system and control neurons that cause anxiety and seizures.
- Omega 3 increases phospholipids in the brain to ensure proper neurological functioning and strengthen the brain.
- 5-HTP reduces anxiety and depression and can help reduce the severity and frequency of seizures.
- Vitamin B6 benefits the central nervous system and helps reduce the number of seizures.
Regarding the patient’s diet and exercise, these also need to be carefully adjusted and monitored. Although regular exercise is very healthy and it should be practiced by everyone, people who suffer from epilepsy should make sure that they don’t play intense sports and they don’t push themselves close to hyperventilation. At the same time, they should avoid exercising in places where they are not surrounded by people or where they can hurt themselves if a seizure occurs. A comfortable gym close to the home is always preferred, rather than jogging in isolated places around the neighborhood.
Diet plays a very important role in anyone’s life, and patients who suffer from epilepsy are not an exception. They don’t have to follow many dietary restrictions, but they have to avoid foods and drinks that will overstimulate their nervous system. Alcohol, caffeine, energy drinks or too much chocolate can increase the number and the intensity of the seizures. Also, they need to make sure that they get all the vitamins and the minerals that they need, in order to keep their body healthy and avoid seizures as much as possible. Some patients are at risk of developing anxiety and depression, so controlling their diet might be more important than you think.
If you are the friend or the family member of a patient with epilepsy, you want to do everything you can to help them. You are tempted to ask them how they feel all the time and you get scared every time they don’t answer the phone. Although it is normal for you to feel concerned, you have to know that this overprotection will make them feel incapable of taking care of themselves, and eventually depressed and angry. Take care of your friend or family member in the best way you can, but give them the chance to lead their own life and choose how they want to be treated.
Epilepsy is a scary disease, but it can be kept under control with the help of natural supplements and some lifestyle changes as well as support from those surrounding the patient.