Travelling with epilepsy
Summer is coming so what traveling tips are there when you want to go away and have Epilepsy?
It can be a challenge traveling with epilepsy. In this era of heightened security and suspicion, a seizure may be mistaken for an aggressive act. In addition, just the thought of getting into a confined space like a plane, where you’re over 30,000 feet away from the nearest medical assistance, can throw cold water on your traveling experience – and make you rethink going anywhere at all.
However, you don’t need to avoid traveling with epilepsy. “With the proper planning, you can help to ensure a safer and more enjoyable trip,” says Basel Assaad, M.D., a Henry Ford neurologist specializing in epilepsy treatment.
See your doctor. Ask about any precautions you should take during your trip and have your doctor provide a letter explaining your condition, the medications you take and any implanted device – which you can show to airport security or any other transport officials. Also a tip is to keep all these medications and devices in a separate bag (last time I were at a airport I was in a massive confusion because my letters and medication were inside the bag and the authorities would not let me get the letters out the bag which would have explained the medication and the electrical device and oxygen in my case!)
Make a medication plan, alarms on your phone because with security checks, long lines, running to catch planes, trains, ships etc your bound to loose track of time and thats before taking into account the change in time zones!
* Pack extra medication to last more than the length of your trip.
* Keep medication in the original bottles, asking your pharmacist for extra empty bottles with the information printed on them, if necessary.
* Pack some in 2 different cases if you can, in the event that one is lost or stolen.
* Write down your pharmacy contact information, in case you need to get a refill.
* Set alarms on your watch or phone to ensure that you can take your medicine on time, even if you will be in a different time zone.
* Ask your doctor about taking rescue medication to help adjust to any altitude changes.
* Carry identification. Carry a medical ID bracelet and, if you have a vagus nerve stimulator implant, make sure you have your device registration card or prescription, charger and adaptor for the country you are going to.
Be proactive in communicating. Let the people you are traveling with and the company know about your epilepsy. If you are able to normally be independent then you may consider bringing a travel partner when you travel. If possible, travel with a friend or loved one who knows how to provide seizure first aid. They can also explain the situation to those around you. Personally this is not something I have a problem with as my situation doesn’t allow me to travel to the postbox down the road alone let alone another country but everyones epilepsy is different and so this may be a situation for others.
Get enough sleep. Lack of sleep, being overtired and jetlag may increase your seizure risk. It’s easy to get overtired while traveling, so make sure to get enough sleep and plan some extra time for rest and recovery.
Wash your hands. Especially during cold and flu season, it’s important to practice good hygiene and minimize your exposure to germs. If you get sick, it may increase your seizure risk.
Get vaccinated. Traveling to an international location? “With the exception of some anti-malarial medications, most vaccines or preventive antibiotics will not affect your epilepsy or interact with your medication,” says Dr. Assaad. “When in doubt, consult with your doctor.”
If necessary, consider something other than air travel. If you have uncontrolled seizures, you may wish to avoid air travel and take a bus or train.
Sit back, relax and enjoy your trip. For some people with epilepsy, stress can be another potential seizure trigger – and traveling certainly can be stressful. With traffic, crowds, long lines and rushing to get there, it’s easy to get anxious. However, it’s important to remain calm, even when things don’t go quite as planned.
Summer is coming so enjoy it and happy holidays – comment below where you are planning to travel to this year. Do you have any other tips for travelling with Epilepsy? let me know.