Epilepsy and Hot Weather
Last updated: July 2023
As an epilepsy patient, I have learned to live with my condition. I take medication regularly, and I am careful to avoid my triggers. But there is 1 trigger that I never saw coming: hot weather.
Can hot weather cause seizures?
I never thought that hot weather would be a problem for me, since cold weather is usually what affects me. I live in a warm climate in Malaysia, and I've always been able to handle the heat.
But in 2019, I had a seizure for the first time in the summer. I was surprised and scared. I had never had a seizure in hot weather before.
Traveling to a hotter climate
I was so excited to visit India in 2019. It was my first solo trip across the country. I chose to go to India since I believed I would not have seizures there, as I already live in a warm climate in my country. But the heat was unlike anything I had ever experienced before. It was so hot and humid.
I spent a week in India, drinking lots of water and bathing in cool water to keep my body temperature down. I was having a great time with the friendly people I met there, but I was having some trouble with the food. I kept getting diarrhea, and I had to take medicine to stop it. I also developed rashes all over my body due to the intense heat there. This was also my first time ever having heat rashes.
Starting to feel strange
After a week, I started to feel really heavy and strange. My body was giving me all the signs that I was about to have a seizure. I tried to stay calm, went for a walk, and took my emergency medicine, which for me, is clobazam.
That afternoon, I took a nap because the seizure medication was making me dizzy. About 15 minutes later, I woke up in a cold sweat. I knew what was happening, and I started to scream for help. I collapsed on the ground and had a seizure.
Having multiple seizures due to the heat
When I woke up, I had a terrible headache. I thought I was going to be okay, but the next day I had another seizure. This time, I had 2 in one day. I don't remember much about the seizures themselves, but I do remember waking up in a hospital bed with a doctor and a nurse standing over me.
I knew I had to go back to Malaysia. It was very serious.
Heat and dehydration can trigger epilepsy
Back home in Malaysia, I went to see my doctor, and he explained that hot weather can trigger seizures in people with epilepsy. He said this is because heat can cause dehydration, which can lead to changes in brain function.
Dehydration can also make it harder for people with epilepsy to take their medication on time, which can also increase the risk of seizures. I was surprised and shocked to learn that extreme heat can trigger epilepsy.
I've been more careful since then. I still am not confident enough to go to India or any other country on my own, even though it has been a while since the incident. I might try again in the future.
My tips for staying cool
I know that I can't control the weather, but I can control how I respond to it. If you have epilepsy, it's important to be aware of how hot weather might affect you. Here are a few tips for staying safe in hot weather:
- Drink plenty of fluids. (Coconut water is my favorite.)
- Wear a straw hat for shade. (And to protect your head!)
- Eat more hydrating fruits.
- Stay in air-conditioned rooms.
- Wear loose-fitting clothing.
- Avoid strenuous activity.
- Take your medication on time.
- Inform someone if you'll be in hot weather for a long time.
- Plan your activities around the coolest times of day. (This is important.)
Always being mindful of my epilepsy
That experience taught me a valuable lesson. I learned that I can't ignore my epilepsy, no matter where I am in the world. And I learned that I need to be more careful about managing my condition while traveling, especially when I'm in hot weather.
I hope that by sharing my story, I can help other people with epilepsy stay safe in hot weather. Do you have similar experiences, too? Share your experience in the comment section below. I would really like to know more about it.
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