Epilepsy group department of neurology atkinson morley wing

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Information Sheet for suspected first seizure/new epilepsy

You have been given this information sheet because your doctor suspects that you may have had a seizure, or developed epilepsy. The diagnosis of a seizure or epilepsy is not always straightforward, so you will be referred to a specialist epilepsy clinic for a further assessment and advice, and will be offered the next available new patient appointment. You will be given more information and a detailed explanation when you come to the clinic, but in the meantime, even if you have already been started on treatment, there are some safety precautions listed below that are advisable, while you might be at risk of further attacks.


Avoid circumstances where a seizure could have serious consequences e.g.

  • riding a bicycle, especially in traffic/without a helmet.

  • working on ladders, roofs or scaffolding;

  • being by an unguarded open fire/flame

  • swimming alone (inform the pool attendant and/or have a friend with you)

  • Taking a bath - a shower is preferable, or bath in shallow water, with the door unlocked and someone else in the house

  • Standing too close to the edge of tube/train platforms or road pavements

  • Operating potentially dangerous machinery e.g. chain saw, manufacturing equipment

Driving is a special case and if you hold a driving license you must not drive at all at least until you have been seen in the clinic. Unless another treatable cause of your attack(s) is found, you are required by law to inform the DVLA, and will not be allowed to drive for at least 6 months, and more commonly 1 year from your most recent seizure. Failure to inform the DVLA is a criminal offence, and you can be fined up to £1000. DVLA Telephone : 0300 790 6806 www.direct.gov.uk/en/Motoring/DriverLicensing/MedicalRulesForDrivers
First Aid During A Seizure

Most seizures will stop on their own after a few minutes, and no emergency action is needed. It is often a good idea to make sure you friends/family know what to do incase you have another attack:

Do Summon help if you are alone

Cushion the head

Remove sharp, hot or hard objects from the patients surroundings

Only move patient if they are in a dangerous place (e.g. at top of stairs or in the road)

Do not put anything in the mouth (there is no danger of swallowing the tongue)

Do not restrain the convulsive movements

Do not leave until they have recovered

After a seizure roll the patient onto their left side, and if breathing is still laboured check nothing is blocking the throat (e.g. dentures)

When you have recovered, if you don’t already have a treatment plan, inform your GP that another attack has occurred and seek advice on what to do next.

Call an ambulance if

  • the seizure lasts longer than usual for that patient, or more than 5 minutes if this is not known

  • one seizure follows another without recovery in between

  • they have injured themselves or have difficulty breathing after a seizure

General information:

What is a seizure?

A seizure (sometimes called a fit, an attack, a convulsion or a turn) is a sudden, brief disruption of normal brain activity. The seizure may have different forms depending on whether this happens in all the brain at once or if the seizure is in a part of the brain.

What is epilepsy?

If someone has repeated unprovoked seizures this is epilepsy and medication is usually prescribed. Most patients who are treated for epilepsy will get better although they may need to take tablets (antiepileptic drugs) to ensure this.

Antiepileptic Drugs:

If a diagnosis of epilepsy is made, and you are treated with antiepileptic drugs, you must take them regularly and not run out (make sure you request a follow up prescription from your GP in good time). You are also are entitled to free prescriptions. You will need a Prescription Charge Exemption Certificate (FP92) which you can get from your Health Authority. To obtain the certificate you must complete form FP92A - available from your doctor, hospital or pharmacist. The FP92 can enable you to get a disabled persons railcard.

Oral contraception (and other tablets) may need to taken at different doses if antiepileptic drugs are taken. Check with your GP or hospital doctor if in doubt. If you are taking tablets you should keep an up to date and complete list in your wallet, and bring them to any clinic appointment.

Further information

Once you have been seen in the epilepsy clinic, they will be able to provide you with any further information and address any questions you may have. If you have questions or need further advice before then you should either ask your GP, or the team who gave you this leaflet.

Further information is also available at:
NHS Choices www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Epilepsy

Epilepsy Action, Freephone 0808 800 5050 www.epilepsy.org.uk

Epilepsy Society, 01494-601400 www.epilepsynse.org.uk

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