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Five Post Seizure Self-Care Tips

Five Post Seizure Self-Care Tips

The period after a seizure is called the postictal phase, and it can be a period where you feel confused and lost, especially if you are on your own. During this period it is very important to look after yourself, and give yourself the chance to get back to being yourself.
In this article we discuss five self-care techniques to get you back on track and recovering from a epileptic seizure, in particular, a Tonic-Clonic (grand mal) seizure, although some are applicable to other seizure types too.




1. Breathe, Assess and Re-Centre

After the seizure the very first thing you should do is relax and take some deep breaths. You will probably find you are in pain from the convulsions and confused. Taking deep breaths focuses your mind on breathing rather than the pain and confusion, helping prevent panic and reduce fear. Lying still with no sudden movements will help you to re-centre yourself and recover more quickly whilst limiting any further harm to the body. Whilst you are doing this, pay attention to any unfamiliar sensations and assess yourself for any injury. The last thing you want to do is get up and put weight on a limb that is injured! (I didn't learn this the hard way, honest!) If you are on your own call for help do not get up if it is avoidable. Call a medical professional, family member or friend to come ad help you during this stage where you are very vulnerable and judgement may be impaired.

2. Hydrate

Seizures are very physically intensive, more so than any gym session you will ever do, unless you are one of these strange people that likes these high intensity exercise plans!  Just like any period of intensive exercise you could sweat and start to dehydrate. It is very important to get some water or isotonic sports drink in you shortly after a seizure. I always find when I don't drink afterwards my recovery period is significantly longer. In a similar vein, I always find it useful to get some sugar in me, so my Mum or partner makes me a cup of tea with sugar in. This replaces some of the energy I've used up practicing my fish out of water routine. Give your body the fuel and tools it has lost during the fit to help it recover.

3. Sleep

Scarlett has the right idea!
Sleep is a great healer! The postictal phase is one of great confusion and heightened sensitivity. External stimuli such as light and sound can confuse and make you disorientated. You may find you have a headache as well and light and sound do not help this in the slightest! Try and make your environment cool, quiet and dark. This gives you the best chance to get to sleep and let your brain return to normal without putting any barriers in the way. Your brain wants to recover, and it is far easier for it to do so without all the factors that come with being awake!

4. Gentle stimulation

When you wake up from your good nap you will hopefully be feeling more human (unless you're me, I think I may be an alien!) It can be tempting to pick up where you left off before your seizure but your brain may not be up to it just yet. I find it helpful to gently stimulate my brain back into reality by doing a 'quiet' activity such as reading an easy going book, or reading a celebrity magazine. Even just looking at the pictures in the magazine can help your brain get back into reality. I would avoid any electronic displays or chaotic sounds that can overstimulate the brain whilst recovering. Just like rehabilitating a physical injury, you want to start gentle and build it back up!

5. Give your body a chance to recover too!


Wait - I thought the strange stretching came during a seizure,
not in the bath afterwards! That can't be comfy!
My go to thing a few hours after a seizure is a nice hot bath with bubbles! I always ensure I have my Mum or partner with me! If you are on your own this is something to avoid, instead, you could get a hot water bottle or heat patch, and place it where the muscles are sore. This can help reduce the inflammation caused by convulsions or spasms causing stress on the muscles. We cover a few more techniques to manage pain in this article, which I recommend checking out. Also, depending on your doctor's advice, you can take a couple of NSAIDs such as ibruprofen to help with this as well. Trying to get back to full activity straight away can cause injury and lengthen your recovery time.


To summarise, the overarching message is to take it easy. Don't run before you can walk and give your brain and body the best chance to recover. Overdoing it too early increases your risk of another seizure and ends up being counterproductive anyway!
You can read more about my epilepsy story here.

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Comments

Earthboundstars said…
You may say the pic is taken at the worst time but I think it is very peaceful! I like all these tips and it's thoughtful of you to be sharing so others can shorten their recovery time. I've only ever had seizures in hospital so I imagine having them unexpectedly at home would be terrifying and I'm sorry anyone has to experience that :(
Sheryl said…
Hi Ruthie, this was such an informative article. I am also epileptic, but not as severe as yours. Thus I also don't know a lot of these recovery tips! I think I may actually have had one last night in my sleep again...usually I get brain fog after. Problem is, the fog lasts for months before I really recover. Is this common for you too, and what would you suggest? Thanks for your help lovely <3

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