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What Are Your Seizure Triggers?

When first diagnosed with epilepsy, we can't understand everything all at once – particularly what all of our seizure triggers might be. How can people figure out what triggers their epilepsy? And how can they avoid their triggers?

I didn't want to miss out as a kid!

When I was younger, I at first did not understand my triggers. As time went on, I learned more. But even then, as a kid, I didn't always want to have to accommodate my triggers. Especially if it meant more limitations.

I was still able to play sports, rollerblade, bike, play in the park, and run like a wild lunatic with my friends, but refused to make sure I drank water on hot days. (This kind of activity in hot weather can cause a seizure to occur.) But why listen to my mother? After all, I knew it all. Then again, all of us kids did!

When I got older (and more mature), I was deliberate about drinking water whenever I was doing any of the above activities, and I would take a break if I felt I needed to on especially hot days.

What are some commmon seizure triggers?

Stress can also be a seizure trigger. Whether the stress is about school work, an upcoming test, a social problem, an emotional issue, or anything else. At certain points of time, I didn’t feel like I was doing as well as other people in school or work, which caused seizures to happen. When a boyfriend broke my heart, seizures happened.

Now, I am able to better manage my stress – and better manage my seizures. If a person is bad for you, cut them loose. Stressed about a test? You can try to cheat on it! But OK, OK, in the long run that doesn't work. I'm just trying to make you laugh. (Another way to relieve stress!)

My phone's camera is a seizure trigger for me

Interestingly, iPhones cause my head to feel different. I am unable to look at the camera without having a seizure. Is there a difference in the software? Does it happen to anyone else? Was a trial ever done by a doctor to have a portion of people use an Android and a portion of people use an iPhone to see if there is a difference in seizure activity? I told a neuropsychologist that once and he thought it was a great idea. But yeah, I have no clue why this is a trigger for me.

Caffeine is a trigger, too

Caffeine also triggers seizures for me. I loved the coffee at Melissa's Deli which was open when I attended New York Institute of Technology. It tasted so good, I didn't care if it was a potential seizure trigger. And I always drank caffeine while studying for a test in the library. Iced coffee with whole milk and 3 sugars please.

After a month, though, my deli staff knew I was having seizures and refused to give me caffeinated coffee. If decaffeinated was available or if a worker would be willing to make a new pot, so be it. That's not the only deli that does that to me, but one where I used to live remembers me and when I walked in to try a special he said, "I will make it but with no coffee for you." My people are looking out for me.

No sleep = no good when it comes to seizures

Sleep deprivation is also a no-no for me. If I'm not asleep by midnight, it is time for a melatonin. Most of the time if I fall asleep later than midnight for 2 to 3 days in a row, my head does not feel right. I get tired and I have pain in my head that won't go away. That's when the seizures come. This has happened to me when I've tried staying out later with friends, too.

Other medications

I find that personally, I am sensitive to certain medications, too. Antibiotics, even topical (absorbed through the skin), can cause seizures for certain people like people. Some may interfere with blood levels, too, in terms of how well my seizure meds can work. It is very important to discuss with your epileptologist and pharmacist before taking any medication, whether prescription or over the counter.

But I am fine with flashing lights!

But some things people might automatically think are seizure triggers? I'm fine with them! I like video games, love strobe lights, and enjoy very loud, crowded locations like concerts or clubs. I also like playing sports, and just make sure to stay hydrated. I can also go on many amusement park rides, even the large roller coasters going upside down. But not the virtual rides – they definitely are a trigger for me.

Figuring out YOUR seizure triggers

I know that everyone has different triggers. Some of the things I can do, others cannot. Some of the things others can do, I cannot. That is why it is important to try to keep a journal and write down what was happening before a seizure and after a seizure. It can really help to pinpoint what your triggers are and help you to gain more control.

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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