Seizures and Hot Weather

If you are living with epilepsy, you may have found that seizures can have some unique triggers. During the summer heat, it might be helpful to focus on how the weather can affect epilepsy. Because everyone has different triggers, some people may be affected by weather changes more than others.1

A 2020 survey from the Epilepsy Society showed that 62 percent of people living with uncontrolled epilepsy experienced more seizures in the summer. You may not be able to predict every trigger, but planning ahead can help. Here are tips and strategies that can help you stay safe while enjoying the sun.1,2

Why can heat trigger seizures?

Some people living with epilepsy noted that hot weather did more than trigger breakthrough seizures. It also causes more serious seizures that took longer to recover from. Experts believe that the connection has to do with body physiology.2,3

The sweat that the body produces when it is hot outside has a mix of minerals as well as water. Sweating can lead to dehydration or to too little salt in the body, triggering seizures. Also, heat can damage anti-epileptic drugs or cause them to be less effective.3

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Staying cool in the heat

If you find that your epilepsy is triggered by heat, it is important to stay cool. Here are some tips that can help.4

  • The sun is at its strongest in the middle of the day. Try to schedule outdoor activities before 10 AM and after 3 PM when it is cooler.
  • Dark colors absorb the heat from the sun. Wear light colors when you are outside.
  • Carry a water bottle with you during the day and stay hydrated, especially if you are sweating.
  • If you do not have air conditioning, a fan can go a long way to keeping you cool.
  • Keep your epilepsy medication safe from very high temperatures.
  • Call in backup. Make sure to have a friend or family member around any time you are swimming.
  • Also, make sure to let someone know if you are feeling lightheaded in the sun.

Seizures and swimming

Jumping in the water can be an excellent way to cool off. However, if you are living with epilepsy, it is very important to stay safe around water. First and foremost, speak to your doctor. They can tell you if it is safe for you to swim or if there are certain precautions you should follow.1

If you or a loved one living with epilepsy is cleared by your doctor to swim, remember the buddy system. You should always have a friend or family member around who knows what to do if you have a seizure.1

Children especially should always be supervised when they are in or near a pool. If you can, try to swim in a place where there are lifeguards on duty. Let them know that you have epilepsy and how they can help if you have a seizure.1

Pools are generally safer than open water because it may be tough for someone to reach you out in open water. If you are participating in water sports like water skiing or rafting, make sure to wear a life jacket. Finally, if you have a seizure in the water, it is important to call 9-1-1 when you recover. Even if you feel fine, you may need a medical examination.1

Epilepsy and global warming

Though there are many reasons to focus on global warming, those living with epilepsy may have a particularly personal reason to do so. If climate change is not reversed, the temperatures on Earth will continue to rise. This will have a direct impact on epilepsy for many people.2

Epilepsy experts feel that doctors should speak up about the effects of climate change to help people understand the risks of global warming. It is everyone’s responsibility to learn more and protect our planet.2

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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