Balancing life’s risks against its rewards: Some say it is the key to living well. Having epilepsy may increase life’s risks, at least for some. Should you be taking special safety precautions? A lot depends on the kind of seizures you have, how often they happen, and the kinds of things that are important in your life.

When you have the tendency to have seizures, you have to strike a balance between the way you want to live your life, your personal freedom, and your personal safety. If you have very brief staring episodes, or only have seizures while asleep, your chance of being injured is probably low. People with frequent seizures that affect consciousness and happen without warning are the most likely to be at risk of injury.

Studies show that only about 1% of seizures actually result in injuries. Accidents are not evenly distributed among epilepsy patients. Those with accidents have usually had more than one. Overall, the annual chance that a person with epilepsy will visit an emergency department because of a seizure-caused injury is estimated to be 5%. Certainly, activities taking place at heights, near water, or some other hazard increase your risk of being hurt if you are prone to having seizures. So ask yourself: Can this activity be made safer? Is this activity important enough to me to take the risk involved? Each of us has to weigh how much we value an activity against the risk of injury. Sometimes the answer depends on individual health, preferences and lifestyle.

Make decisions that will have a positive effect on your life! People with epilepsy should not be overprotected. Remember, restrictions will not ensure that accidents will not happen. When some risk is unavoidable, it is important not to overreact. Unnecessary restrictions on one’s independence (especially on children with epilepsy) may cause greater harm than the potential accident. The information below will help you think about any risks you may face and offer ways to help you live a safe and active life. Take some time to set up those basic safety procedures that directly apply to your seizure pattern. Then concentrate on all the things you can do. The goal is to balance safety concerns with the way you want to live your life–well.

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