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Bengaluru: Winter, pandemic situation trigger seizures in epileptic patients

Dr Srinivas Raju, a neurologist at Columbia Asia Hospital, Hebbal, noted a 10 to 15 per cent increase in seizure incidents during the past few months when the coronavirus-induced lockdown was in place.

Written by Ralph Alex Arakal | Bengaluru | Updated: November 27, 2020 8:23:24 am
Doctors suggest that epileptic patients should regularly follow-up with doctors and undergo timely tests, even if the situation seems to be well-controlled. (Source: Getty Images)

As days get chilly in Bengaluru, doctors in the city warn of an increase in seizures in epileptic patients, calling for better attention and care to them. Doctors say they have observed a 10 per cent increase in such cases in the last few weeks, even as they deny any direct link between epilepsy and winter.

Based on her observation of patients and various studies, Neurologist Dr Veena Vedartham of Manipal Hospitals (Old Airport Road) says that sunlight plays an important role in reducing seizures. “Unstable weather conditions especially during winter season where the sunlight is less has been associated with an increase in abnormal electric discharges on EEG (investigation which reads ongoing electrical activity in the brain) and subsequently more seizures during this season,” she told indianexpress.com.

“Epileptic patients are advised to take their medications regularly, maintain a good sleep hygiene, avoid essential oils, to regulate temperature at home by using a room heater and warm clothing,” she added.

Dr Srinivas Raju, a neurologist at Columbia Asia Hospital, Hebbal, noted a 10 to 15 per cent increase in seizure incidents during the past few months when the coronavirus-induced lockdown was in place. “Among several factors that led to this increase were insomnia, fear of epilepsy, and surprisingly reduced income among conditions like tumour and drug-resistance,” he said. The Anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs) were also a major concern, he added.

He recommended caregivers at home to look out for signs and symptoms like confusion, fuzziness, feeling different than usual, altered sensations, jerking, and staring spells in patients.

However, the introduction of telemedicine consultations came to the aid of patients and doctors while several cases were missed due to lack of transportation facilities. “To overcome this, the pharmacy at our hospital also supplied medicines to the patients at their door step,” Dr Vedartham said.

Dr Ravi Kumar C P, Consultant – Paediatric Neurology, Aster CMI Hospital, said epilepsy management has changed on many fronts. “With the help of appropriate investigations, MRI scans, metabolic tests, and genetic tests, we are now able to pinpoint the type of epilepsy in each patient,” he said.

He added that genetic tests have also enabled doctors to choose a specific drug which can help in achieving a better outcome for the patient.

“Additionally, on a case by case scenario, we are now making use of newer strategies like following a ketogenic diet, vagus nerve stimulation and epilepsy surgery which is helping in managing seizures and improving quality of life,” Dr Kumar said.

In addition to this, doctors suggest that epileptic patients should regularly follow-up with doctors and undergo timely tests, even if the situation seems to be well-controlled.

Further, doctors recommend against putting any object in the hand of any patient when he/she is experiencing a seizure. “When the patient has a seizure, make him lay down and turn to one side. Remove all those objects around him which can injure him during the seizure due to the involuntary movements of his legs or hands. Do not put any object in the hand. The seizure will subside within three to five minutes,” Dr Vedartham noted.

In cases where the seizure persists beyond 10 to 15 minutes or if they recur in a single day, experts suggest that the patient is moved to a hospital for further treatment and management.

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