BENGALURU: Rahul (name changed), 14 who had been having seizures for over six months started experiencing increased spells of loss of consciousness that lasted for a couple of minutes and dizziness within the last two weeks. He also complained of headaches while attending his classes online owing to the Covid-19 pandemic. His headache was so severe that he started missing his classes online and his scores went down.
A Video Electroencephalogram (EEG) was conducted to record his seizures and the doctors found him to be having functional seizures or pseudo or psychogenic seizures which require less medications and more counselling and behavioural therapy. With the help of a child psychologist and psychiatrist, Rahul underwent multiple counselling sessions. His spells of loss of consciousness have now reduced and with minor doses of medications, he is doing well.
The pandemic induced lock down has brought about a wide change in our lifestyle and likewise, the trends and treating approach related to several health disorders. Epilepsy, a disorder in which nerve cell activity in the brain is disturbed, causing seizures including abnormal behaviour, symptoms and sensations, sometimes loss of consciousness, is no exception. There are more than 12 million persons with epilepsy in India, which contributes to nearly one-sixth of the global burden. Here is how those suffering from epilepsy have been affected during the pandemic and the ways by which epilepsy management can be efficiently done now.
Challenges faced by epilepsy patients during the pandemic With schools and colleges going virtual, online classes have become more common. Also, workspaces have shut and the trend of work from home and online working has gained momentum. These have resulted in the increasing risk of some kinds of seizures like functional seizures or pseudo or psychogenic seizures. Continuous staring at the screen and stress has also increased the frequency of seizure occurrences among many.
During the Covid-19 time, the elderly population with comorbidities like hypertension and diabetes and worst hit by epilepsy as Coronavirus resulted in the increasing risk of encephalitis and seizures among them.
Additionally, due to social distancing and other Covid-19 virus related restrictions, follow-up visits to the doctors have reduced and getting prescriptions for medications have become difficult. Those with breakthrough seizures have avoided reaching out to the hospital for treatment out of the scare of the virus. People from far off places could not come for their follow-up sessions at the right time.
Senior Consultant Neurologist & Epileptologist, Sakra World Hospital
TO -DO LIST
Set daily routines – get up and go to bed at regular times.
Set regular times to do other things - cleaning, taking walks or getting exercise.
Eat at regular times and have sit down meals with family.
Build relaxing activities into your routines – reading, listening to music, drawing or painting
Avoid listening and watching news or doing those that are hampering your sleep.
Do regular Yoga and meditation to maintain your emotional and psychological health.
Managing epilepsy while tackling the pandemic
Be aware of the three first aid steps for seizures - Stay, Safe and Side. Most seizures are not emergencies and can be managed at home with the first aid procedure.
Do not miss the dosage of seizure medicines. Use a text reminder app or a seizure diary to be fully aware of the upcoming chance of seizures and not missing your dose.
Keep an adequate supply of seizure medicine irrespective of health emergencies like pandemic.
Make sure you have a rescue medicine based on the consultation of your doctor. Rescue medicines do not take the place of daily seizure medicines. They can be used to help prevent a seizure emergency and prevent the need to go to an emergency room.