National Epilepsy Awareness Month


Q: I’ve heard I should put something like a wallet in a person’s mouth while their having a seizure because they might swallow their tongue. Is that true?

A: No, a person having a seizure cannot swallow their tongue. Never put something in their mouth—it could actually cause them to choke.

Q: Can someone with epilepsy drive?

A: The rules vary from state to state, but generally someone needs to be seizure free for a certain amount of time in order to drive. In Pennsylvania you must be seizure free for six months. The EFEPA can help someone with epilepsy find transportation assistance if they cannot drive.

Q: Can someone with epilepsy work?

A: Yes! People with epilepsy can work just the same as anyone else. They may need accommodations in the workplace to help make sure they are safe, and that right is protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Q: Is epilepsy contagious?

A: No, epilepsy is not contagious. You cannot “give” someone epilepsy the way you can the common cold.

Q: Can people with epilepsy play sports and exercise?

A: Yes, but they may need to take special precautions. Exercise is rarely a trigger for a seizure, but it’s always a good idea to be safe. Some smart tips are to have a workout buddy or wear a medic alert bracelet.

Q: Can someone die from epilepsy?

A: Although most people with epilepsy can live full, healthy lives, death due to having a seizure is a possibility. The risk of dying for a person with epilepsy is 1.6 to 3 times higher than that for the general population. During a seizure, a person could suffer a brain injury or other traumatic injury.

Another complication is Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy (SUDEP), which is when someone with epilepsy dies unexpectedly and no other cause of death is found. SUDEP occurs in 1 out of 1,000 persons with epilepsy.