Epilepsy Care is something we specialise in at Kemble at Home. We make sure we are in continuous contact with the local epilepsy nurse who provides training, advice and guidance for our carers and care managers.
We have combined some information about epilepsy which currently affects around 600,000 people in the UK. In this guide we covered questions like what epilepsy is, what may cause it, how to get it diagnosed, how to manage it, and last but not least, how our carers can assist in its management.
What is Epilepsy?
Epilepsy is a condition that affects the brain - bursts of electrical activity or epileptic seizures briefly affect how it functions. A person will only be diagnosed as epileptic if they have more than one seizure and for some people epileptic seizures will only occur for a certain period, whilst for other, it can be a life-long condition.
Seizures will be different for everybody as they can affect various areas of the brain - this is why seizures are divided into groups depending on where they start in the brain (onset), whether the person's awareness is affected, and whether the seizures involve other symptoms like movement. Depending on where the seizures start, they can be defined as focal onset, generalised onset or unknown onset.
It is still not clear what triggers most of the epileptic seizures, but some of the causes that have been linked are:
- epilepsy in the family history
- a brain infection such as meningitis
- severe head injury
- problems during birth causing the baby to lack oxigen
Diagnosis of Epilepsy
If you have a seizure, you will need to see your GP immediately to determine what has caused it. They may refer you to a specialist - a neurologist for adults and paediatrician for children, and you will need to be seen within two weeks of being referred. It is good to avoid activities that may put you or others in danger (like driving) during this time, as there is a chance the seizure may happen again. If the seizure was to happen again whilst you are waiting to be seen by a specialist, you should contact your GP.
They will need to find out more about the seizure, so they will probably suggest some tests - normally the EEG and/or a brain scan. EEG will check for unusual electrical activity within your brain that can happen to people with epilepsy. A brain scan (usually an MRI) will help spot problems that can sometimes cause epilepsy like unusual growth (brain tumour), damage to the brain usually caused by stroke or any scarring in the brain.
If you have had only one seizure, it can be difficult do diagnose epilepsy as similar symptoms can be caused by other conditions such as fainting, a migraine or a panic attack. This is why it is good that you record the timing of your seizure, what you were doing when it happened and how it made you feel before, during and after. If there was somebody there with you at the time of the seizure, it may be forth bringing them along to your appointment so they can describe what they witnessed.
Management of Epilepsy
A) Keep a good record
With the right treatment, epilepsy can be kept under control. Finding the right treatment, however, can be the more tricky part. This is why it is important that you keep a good record of everything related to your epilepsy and the seizures. You should be recording the following:
- when the seizures occurred and how long they lasted
- what you were doing when the seizure happened
- did anything trigger it
- any changes of medication, possible side-effects, when you take medication
- treatment history
- details of your doctor
- how the seizure makes you feel before, during and after.
If you are more tech savy, rather than using the good old fashioned diary to record information about your epilepsy, you could be use this app on your phone.
B) Create an epilepsy care plan
An epilepsy care plan should be shared with anyone you think may need to know about the support you need to manage your seizures. You can download a epilepsy care plan template here.
C) Attend epilepsy chat groups
Sharing your experiences can be de-stressing, but listening to others may give you some ideas how to manage yours. There is a Epilepsy Coffee and Chat Group that meets in Hereford at The Courtyard every month that you may wish to join. You can find out more information here.
D) Get help from specialised professionals
If you fill you cannot manage with your condition, you may want to ask for some help. Kemble at Home carers receive thorough training on epilepsy and would be able to offer advice and support in various aspects.
Specialised epilepsy carers can assist by:
- keeping you safe during a seisure
- calling for medical help, giving first aid or emergency medication
- helping you keep on track of your medication
- helping you keep a concise report of your seizures
- staying with you after you have had a seizure, making sure you are safe
- noting patterns and triggers, especially if you cannot remember them
- accompanying you to appointments, helping you take notes, providing descriptions of seizures, acting as an advocate
- providing transport to appointments and activities
- helping you adapt your home to make it epilepsy safe
Contact us for more information about how Kemble at Home could help you manage epilepsy.