Precautions for Patients with Epilepsy & Seizure Disorders

The word epilepsy is used when more than one seizure has occurred, and, if someone has a single seizure, they usually are not said to have epilepsy. Unfortunately, epilepsy connotes something very negative to many people. The terms epilepsy and seizure disorders are often used interchangeably.

Psychosocial Aspects of Seizure Disorders

Seizure disorders can have a profound effect on many aspects of normal daily living. An individual's perception of his or her own health or illness may be dramatically changed when they have a seizure disorder. For some patients, epilepsy carries a stigma that may cause them to alter plans regarding their future educational, employment, or social opportunities. Awareness of these issues is key to developing a treatment and counseling plan for patients and their families. Important issues to address and include when educating patients about managing epilepsy are:

  • what seizures are, and what symptoms may warn of their onset
  • when to notify a physician about any change in symptoms
  • details of medication dosing, side effects, and importance of medication
  • compliance (taking medications exactly as they are directed and not missing doses)
  • importance of laboratory monitoring tests with some drugs
  • advice on living a healthy lifestyle and avoiding things that may trigger seizure activity (sleep deprivation, increased stress, alcohol and drug abuse)
  • counseling women of childbearing age about epilepsy, medications, and pregnancy

Driving and Seizure Disorders

Although the laws vary somewhat from state to state, most states have rules regarding when seizure patients can legally resume driving. Typically, patients must have been seizure-free 6 months to a year. While physicians generally are not required to report patient seizures to their state motor vehicle departments, patients are expected to comply with the laws in their state.

Publication Review By: Gordon R. Kelley, M.D.

Published: 01 Feb 2002

Last Modified: 15 Dec 2014