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Get Tips for Staying Healthy During Cold and Flu Season

Sick Child in Bed

On New Year’s Day, many people resolved to lead a healthier lifestyle. But now it’s late January and cold and flu season is really upon us. How is it possible to stay healthy when it feels like the whole world is sick? And how can colds and flu be best managed when the person who is sick also has epilepsy? As always, prevention is the first and best medicine. You can help prevent a cold by using the following five tips:

1) Wash your hands. Regular handwashing removes germs that cause illness. Wash your hands regularly with soap and water for 20 seconds. When soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizers.

2) Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Germs are often spread when a person touches a surface or object that is contaminated with germs and then introduces them into his or her eyes, nose, or mouth. Keep your hands away from your face.

3) Clean and disinfect. Clean frequently touched surfaces often, including doorknobs, banisters, light switches and refrigerator door handles.

4) Avoid contact. If possible, avoid close contact with people who are sick. The less you are around germs, the less likely you are to get ill.

5) Take care of yourself. Remember that resolution to eat healthier, get enough rest and exercise daily? All of these habits will help keep you healthy.

Yet even the healthiest and most germ-phobic person will get sick on occasion, and having epilepsy can complicate the treatment of colds and flu in the following ways:

Drug Interactions: Some common over-the-counter (OTC) medications AND some prescription medications (such as antibiotics) may interact with epilepsy medications in unexpected ways. Some of these medications may increase the side effects of seizure medications, while others may increase seizure risk.

Increased Seizure Activity: Getting sick can, in itself, increase seizure risk. Patients with stomach flu may find it hard to keep medications down. Fatigue, fever, and dehydration may also play a role in triggering seizures.

So what’s a person with epilepsy to do? Here are five must-knows for people with epilepsy who have contracted a cough, cold or flu:

1) Talk to your epilepsy doctor before using an OTC medication or taking a medicine prescribed by another doctor.

2) Call your doctor if you have diarrhea or experience any changes in your seizure pattern. You may not be absorbing all the seizure medicines.

3) Don’t miss any doses of seizure medication. If you can’t hold down your medicine, call your doctor or seek emergency treatment to end the vomiting.

4) Consider asking your doctor to prescribe a rescue medication to stop seizures before an emergency develops.

5) Drink plenty of fluids, eat as best you can, take doctor-recommended medicines for fever, and get plenty of rest.

Seizures can make life more complicated, especially during cold and flu season. But if you’re armed with knowledge, you can minimize your chances of getting sick – and keep yourself safer if you do fall ill.

For a longer discussion of cold, flu, and epilepsy, see this page from the Epilepsy Foundation. For more information about preventing colds and flu, see this page from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

January 30, 2017 | Categories: General

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