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Living with Epilepsy

Day-to-day living of children with epilepsy can be greatly altered with the presence of their disease or condition. This may pose a lot of stress on the children as well as on their carers. However, the quality of lives of these children and the risk of the epilepsy affecting their overall health can be improved by enhancing the knowledge about things surrounding the epilepsy and taking certain measures and precautions.

Issues surrounding the lives of children with epilepsy would include:

  • Dietary restrictions.
  • Epilepsy care at home.
  • Going to school.
  • Epilepsy and behaviour.
  • Sports and recreational activities.

Dietary restrictions

There are no food restrictions for children who have epilepsy. No foods have so far been known to induce or cause a seizure.

Epilepsy at home

Care must be taken so that children will not injure themselves if the seizure occurs at home. These may occur:

  • On the stairs: Use barriers along the staircase. Avoid staying in houses with tall, steep stairs or large balconies.
  • In the bathroom:
    • Younger children should be supervised in the bathroom, preferably with the bathroom door unlocked.
    • Avoid having bathtubs or large containers/pails of water in the bathroom.
    • Using a shower is a safer alternative.

Going to school

Children with epilepsy should be encouraged to participate in all school activities.

The headmaster and teachers should be informed on the child’s condition and on what to do and whom to contact in the event the child has a seizure in school.

Some children with epilepsy have learning difficulties. This may be related to the epilepsy, or a result of the underlying brain condition that caused the epilepsy. When learning difficulties are present, the child will need to be assessed in more details by a doctor or psychologist. He or she may need to be enrolled in special education class or school.

The usual precautions apply for physical activity and sport in school.

Epilepsy and behaviour

Some children with epilepsy can develop abnormal behaviours. These may be related to the epilepsy, or a result of the underlying brain condition that caused the epilepsy.

Examples of such behaviours are:

  • hyperactivity.
  • temper tantrums.
  • aggressive, disruptive behaviours.
  • autistic behaviour.

When difficult behaviours arise, consult your doctor on appropriate measures that need to be taken. The child may need to be seen by a psychiatrist, attend behavior and occupational therapy sessions or even take extra medications.

Sports and recreational activities

Children with epilepsy should be encouraged to lead a normal, full life. Sports and recreational activities should be encouraged.

However, some activities may require closer supervision, such as:

  • Cycling : children should always wear bicycle helmets and cycle away from busy roads.
  • Swimming : supervision at all times by a competent adult in and around the pool. Swimming in the open sea is not recommended.
  • Activities involving heights: may not be advisable for children with poorly controlled seizures.
Last reviewed : 13 May 2012
Content Writer : Dr. Irene Cheah Guat Sim
  : Dr. Terrance Thomas
  : Dr. Umathevi Paramasivam
Reviewer : Dr. Nor Azni b. Yahaya