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Epilepsy awareness: Epilepsy and weather changes

Recently I visited the City of Arusha-Tanzania in quest to tell impact stories for persons with Epilepsy. I immediately noticed the change of weather which was always misty and very cold. When I met with my first Epilepsy support group of the day, I could not help but share my struggles keeping up with the cold when it seemed normal to my new found friends. In the middle of sharing my experience a question from one of the group members popped…

“Is it possible that weather could affect a person with epilepsy, maybe bring on more seizures? My daughter who has autism and epilepsy will all of a sudden start having more seizures when it either becomes damp, sticky, foggy or just extremely hot out! Lately when it's misty out she's having lots of them, am I dreaming or is it possible the weather can affect her seizure?”

Most epileptic seizures occur unexpectedly and independently of known risk factors. There are many risk factors identified, and we also call them triggers. People with epilepsy report weather to be a major risk factor for epileptic seizures. What triggers one person’s seizures might not affect someone else with epilepsy in the same way. For some people, knowing their seizure triggers, means they may be able to avoid them and lessen the risk of having a seizure.

Sometimes, people report seizures due to changes in weather (or environment). For instance, if a person enters a hot environment from a cold environment this could potentially trigger a seizure; however, the opposite remains true as well.

If you think your seizures may be weather related

What you can do:

  • Keep a diary of seizures; when they occur and the circumstances in which they occur. Patterns can emerge for some people. This may take months to recognize, particularly if they are associated with weather changes.
  • If you think your seizures are weather related, look at adjusting your environment at home (and preferably work) so you are less likely to have a seizure. This may even mean getting an air conditioner for your bedroom.
  • A domestic weather station (they vary considerably in price) may be worth considering so you can record the conditions on the days you have seizures to see if there are patterns.
  • Take precautions in unfavorable weather conditions for you.
  • Many people with epilepsy find that their seizures are triggered by various things, including temperature or barometric changes, certain lights and sounds, hormones and even sleep. Regardless of the cause, if heat is a seizure trigger for you, use caution in hot weather to reduce your risk of seizures.


    The writer is an Epilepsy Awareness Ambassador

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