The confidence to live with epilepsy
According to the Epilepsy Foundation, 3.4 million people in the U.S. live with epilepsy – about 3 million adults and over 470,000 children. Of those, about a million people live with uncontrolled epilepsy. Everyone with epilepsy or another seizure disorder should always wear a medical ID. If you have a seizure and can’t communicate, it’s critical that others know about your condition.
Seizures can cause confusion, injury, uncontrolled movement, or the inability to speak or move. Sometimes seizures happen when you’re just trying to live your life; going to work, to school, or running errands. The people around you may not recognize a seizure when it happens. This is scary and dangerous because you can be seriously injured if not cared for properly.
- We’re your voice: If you can’t speak for yourself due to a seizure or other medical emergency, your ID will speak for you – informing others about your epilepsy and any medications you’re taking.
- 24/7 emergency protection: In an emergency, the MedicAlert team will relay all of your critical medical information to first responders, no matter where or when your emergency happens.
- Always connected: You should never be alone in an emergency. That’s why MedicAlert will reach out to your designated contacts if you are unable to do so.
- Live with peace of mind and confidence: MedicAlert will be there for you every step of the way. You’ll have the confidence and freedom to live your life with epilepsy, knowing we’ve got you covered.
“MedicAlert was instrumental in providing critical medical information to the emergency room staff and also contacting family members. I am alive today because of MedicAlert.”
– Kellie M., MedicAlert member since 1994
What you should know about living with epilepsy
Living with epilepsy can be a frightening prospect for both yourself and your loved ones – but with medication and treatment, many people can actively manage their epilepsy. Epilepsy is a neurological disorder that affects activity in the brain resulting in seizures and other serious neurological symptoms. The development of epilepsy is spontaneous and can occur in any person and at any age. The symptoms associated with epilepsy can range in severity from milt to uncontrolled – but in any case, epilepsy is a serious condition that requires significant care and attention.
The causes of epilepsy are not well known to medical researchers, and in about half of all cases, no identifiable cause can be found. However, factors that may increase the chance of developing epilepsy include genetic factors, head trauma, brain conditions (such as tumors or strokes), some infectious diseases, as well as certain developmental disorders. Epilepsy most commonly develops in children and older adults, but can occur at any age.
Symptoms associated with epilepsy can be dangerous and may interfere with everyday life. In order to best keep yourself safe, it’s important to understand the effects epilepsy and its symptoms have on you – and ensure that in case of a medical emergency, medical professionals and first responders are able to access your medical information. It’s also important that your family and friends know how to identify a seizure and what to do to keep you safe.
The importance of an epilepsy medical ID bracelet
Wearing a medical ID at all times ensures your medical conditions are immediately known in an emergency.
When first responders see a MedicAlert ID, they know to contact MedicAlert to get your complete health record.
Get protected 24/7 with a MedicAlert ID and membership.
What are the different types of epileptic seizures?
Epilepsy, also known as seizure disorder, is a very complicated neurological condition that presents with a variety of symptoms. The most dominant symptom of epilepsy is seizures. Seizures occur when abnormal electrochemical activity in the brain scrambles the electrical signal traveling along neural pathways, sometimes leading to sudden bursts of electrical activity in the brain. The bursts trigger the involuntary movement and convulsion of muscles, leading to muscle spasms.
Medical experts have identified a wide range of different epileptic seizures, associated with different types of epilepsy. These seizures can be broadly classified into two groups: generalized seizures and focal seizures. The brain is split into two hemispheres, or sides. Generalized seizures affect both sides of the brain, whereas focal seizures only occur on one side of the brain, which is why these seizures are also known as partial seizures (or more recently, “focal onset aware” or “focal onset impaired awareness seizures”).
Generalized seizures include absence seizures, also known as petit mal seizures, which cause a temporary disassociation between the body and brain. Absence seizures are usually characterized by a few seconds of staring into space or rapid blinking. The other type of generalized seizure is known as tonic-clonic seizures, sometimes called grand mal seizures. These result in the temporary loss of consciousness, as well as muscle jerks or spasms. Occasionally individuals living with epilepsy may cry out loud during a tonic-clonic seizure.
Conversely, focal seizures tend to be less severe than generalized seizures, as they only occur on one side of the brain. These types of seizures include simple focal seizures, which are localized to a specific part of the brain, and may cause twitching and mild sensory hallucinations (such as an unknown smell or taste). A complex focal seizure may cause a sensation being dazed or confused for up to several minutes. During this type of seizure, an individual with epilepsy may not be able to speak or respond to questions. Finally, secondary generalized seizures occur in one part of the brain but then expand to both hemispheres, becoming a generalized seizure after a few moments. All types of seizures can last from a few seconds to a few moments.
How can epilepsy affect your life?
Individuals living with epilepsy can experience a variety of symptoms that may interfere with everyday life. These symptoms include seizures, temporary confusion, a period of being dazed or zoned out, loss of awareness, as well as psychological symptoms such as a sudden onset of intense fear or anxiety. These symptoms may occur or intensify randomly, which makes activities that require constant alertness such as driving, swimming, or fast-paced sports potentially dangerous for some people. Epilepsy is also associated with potential mental health conditions, such as the development of depression as well as generalized anxiety.
Sometimes, epilepsy can also result in sudden acute complications associated with the condition. These include a condition known as status epilepticus, which occurs when individuals living with epilepsy remain in a state of seizure for longer than five minutes or experience recurrent seizures without periods of full consciousness in between. Status epilepticus may increase the chance of permanent brain damage or death. Additionally, individuals living with epilepsy have a small risk of sudden unexpected death – called SUDEP – the causes of which are unknown.
Seizure first aid
During an epileptic seizure, it’s important that the people around you – family, friends, teachers, coworkers, and first responders – know what to do. The Epilepsy Foundation is a great source for Seizure First Aid Training. In most seizures, you can help with these three actions:
- STAY: Stay with the person until they are awake and alert after the seizure.
- SAFE: Keep the person safe by moving or guiding them away from harm.
- SIDE: Turn the person onto their side if they are not awake and aware, to aid their breathing.
Many seizures do not require medication attention. However, if a seizure lasts longer than 5 minutes, the person is pregnant, sick or injured, is having difficulty breathing, or does not return to their normal state, you should all 911 immediately.
As with any medical condition, you should consult your doctor for specific instructions on managing your condition.
Looking at Alexandra DeBourcy, you would never guess that she has a single health concern, especially anything as serious as epilepsy, unless you happen to see the Medical ID on her wrist. You would never know the 34-year-old former advertising executive once woke up from a seizure unable to remember the name of the […]
What should I engrave on an epilepsy medical ID?
MedicAlert offers free custom engraving on all our medical ID products. The engraving on your epilepsy medical ID should include any critical medical information that can protect and save your life if you are in an accident or have a medical emergency, including
- Epilepsy or seizure disorder
- Medications you take
- Other medical conditions
- Implanted devices such an a VNS
- Any other medical information that needs to be communicated to first responders
MedicAlert Foundation is proud to partner with the Epilepsy Foundation to raise awareness of epilepsy and promote seizure first aid training for first responders and anyone affected by seizure disorders.