I think it is safe to say that epilepsy suffers still hide away because of their medical condition as they feel they are unable to talk about it. Also most people still find the sight of an epileptic seizure frightening or they feel awkward, as they don’t know how to help the person having the seizure.
I know from personal experience, talking about epilepsy is a really important aspect of accepting the complexities of such a serious medical condition. Talking about it will also help to educate your family and friends and will enable them to feel more at ease with it.
The majority of people would associate an epileptic seizure with the classic tonic-clonic symptoms, stiffness, loss of consciousness and convulsions. However, the signs of a seizure are not always easy to spot. Some people may just appear to be day dreaming or they may have sudden difficulty in making their speech understandable. They may slur their words or look like they are chewing or swallowing something.
If you are a young adult out with your friends on a Saturday night, you could be miss-taken for being drunk while having a seizure. Of course this may not be the case but would the person helping you, automatically think you may be having an epileptic seizure.
Epilepsy should in no way stop you from living the life that you want to, but you need to ensure you abide by the terms and conditions of epilepsy and this is most important when travelling abroad.
Make sure that you plan your trip well in advance so that you can do everything you want to, and avoid any potential triggers. It is not always easy to maintain a normal sleep pattern while on holiday but sleep disruption can prompt epilepsy seizures for some people, even if you have been seizure free for quite some time.
If you have frequent seizures or experience loss of consciousness or changes in behaviour during or after a seizure, you should probably have a travelling companion with you. Your companion should know what to do in case of a seizure and should be able to explain to others around you what is happening, especially if you are flying.
Consider your mode of transport carefully and take into consideration the frequency of your seizures and how they may affect you. Some people with epilepsy may have concerns about flying, but you should find most airlines have additional guidelines concerning people with epilepsy. An example might be for you to sit in an aisle seat in case you have a seizure. Also, some people’s seizures are triggered by extreme tiredness caused by jetlag or the nervous tension from the fear of flying and even the intense excitement of going on holiday. It might be worth carrying a doctor’s letter giving the flight crew a few guidelines in case of a seizure during the flight.
Make sure you have additional supplies of your epilepsy medication in case any are lost while in transit and you could share the medication between your hand and hold baggage. When you are out and about, take extra medication in your day bag – this may also allow you to be more flexible with your plans especially if you want to watch the sun go down on the beach. It is always a good idea to discuss with your doctor your medication routine, as they can offer advice about how to manage time zone differences so you don’t miss a dose. Try not to take your epilepsy medication at different times of the day as this will increase the risk of having a seizure. Also if your body is telling you it needs a rest, then have an afternoon nap, it has got to better than spending several hours at hospital!
Drink plenty of fluids as the effects of dehydration can also trigger a seizure as well as sun stroke and heat exhaustion. Limit the time spent in the direct sun on the beach and find some cool shade to lie under in the mid-day sun. Swimming in warm clear water can be tempting but stop and think before you head out to sea, if you don’t swim alone at home, then don’t do it on holiday. Also it is very tempting to get caught up in late nights, loud music, irregular meals and more important if you don’t drink alcohol at home, don’t do it on holiday. Alcohol can reduce the effect of epilepsy medication and make you more prone to have a seizure.
I know from personal experience how much of a worry it can be to travel abroad with a medical condition as my daughter has nocturnal epilepsy. I spent hours researching our chosen holiday destination to locate the nearest medical centre, emergency phone number and pharmacies just in case! Unfortunately during our second night our greatest fear happened and we were awoken by the eerie scream of the onset of our daughter’s seizure. Luckily we managed to control it without the need for medical assistance, however events could have taken a very different course. If this had been the case I would have been very thankful that I purchased a specialist epilepsy travel insurance cover, to provide the emergency medical assistance we would have required.
If you need emergency medical treatment for your epilepsy while you are away, it can work out very expensive. An epilepsy holiday insurance policy will cover you for these eventualities and also your prescribed medication just in case it gets lost in transit. Make sure you declare your epilepsy as a pre-existing medical condition when looking for travel insurance and remember any other associated medical conditions or investigations, even if you haven’t received any treatment for them recently. It is always worth being completely truthful about your medical history when it comes to buying travel insurance, otherwise you may not have the cover you need in the event of medical emergency claim.
Free Spirit can offer you the travel protection you need. More so, the peace of mind that if you have a seizure in the middle of the night, the Free Spirit 24 hour medical emergency assistance helpline will only be a telephone call away from providing the guidance you need. So don’t delay, if you have already booked your holiday, why not call us today for a quote and getting the necessary cover!