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#EpilepsyAwareness: Seizure first aid tips during COVID-19 pandemic

Readers Lounge By Fredrick Beuchi Mboya

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At this time of heightened anxiety, reassurance and basic advice about minimizing the likelihood of seizure exacerbation is key. Guardians, parents and people living with epilepsy are advised to follow basic seizure first aid and make sure others around them know how to help when a seizure happens.

The basic seizure first aid may include:

  1. Knowing the 3 steps to seizure first aid – Stay. Safe. Side (Stay calm and remain with the person; keep them safe and protect them from injury, and roll them to the side immediately if they have food or fluid in their mouth)
  2. Most seizures are not emergencies and can be managed at home with seizure first aid.
  3. You may be out of your usual routines. Set up a reminder system that will work for you. Here are some ideas to consider:
  4. Consider a ‘comprehensive care plan’, with information about what should happen if families/caregivers are ill or not available.
  5. Instructions should be given to maintain a regular medication supply. People with epilepsy and their families/caregivers should work to prevent medication shortages and ensure that repeat prescriptions are available. Consideration should be given to maintain a 3-month supply, where feasible, and trying to obtain medications outside of the hospital setting (e.g., online pharmacies).
  6. For those with stimulus-induced ‘reflex’ epilepsies (e.g., photosensitive epilepsy), discussion of reducing or eliminating provocative stimuli (e.g. computer games) may be warranted.

People with epilepsy may be concerned about whether they are at higher risk of severe COVID-19, and therefore should entertain stricter quarantine.

They should be reassured that, in the absence of risk factors, such as old age, immobility, co-existent respiratory disease, diabetes mellitus, hypertension, severe heart disease or immunosuppression, people with epilepsy are not at higher risk.

It is prudent, however, for them to remain isolated from contacts and symptomatic individuals where possible.

- The writer is the National Epilepsy Coordination Committee (NECC) National Secretary (Kenya), and an Epilepsy Awareness ambassador

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