Monthly Archives: November 2021

Some Myths about Epilepsy

Epilepsy myths

Epilepsy is often misunderstood with different facts and myths surrounding the condition despite over 500,000 people in the UK having epilepsy. We want to dispel the many myths that still exist and bring you important information about seizures, seizure triggers and epilepsy first aid.

MYTH 1: You shake and jerk when you have epilepsy

FACT 1: Not every seizure means a person shakes and jerks, nor is a person always unconscious during a seizure. Shaking and jerking while unconscious are usually associated with tonic clonic seizures. There are a range of seizures which have different side effects and can affect people differently. 

MYTH 2: Flashing lights cause seizures in everyone with epilepsy

FACT 2: Around 1 in 100 people has epilepsy, and of these people, around 3% have photosensitive epilepsy. Photosensitive epilepsy is more common in children and young people (up to 5%) and is less commonly diagnosed after the age of 20. Triggers differ from person to person, but common triggers include a lack of sleep, stress, and alcohol. 

MYTH 3: You can restrain someone during a tonic clonic seizure and put your finger in their mouth

FACT 3: During a tonic clonic seizure you should never hold the person down or put anything in their mouth. It’s important to know exactly what to do when someone has a tonic clonic seizure so that you can act quickly. 

MYTH 5: The only side effects of a seizure are tiredness and being confused

FACT 5: Having epilepsy can affect people in different ways. Knowing that a person ‘has epilepsy’ does not tell you very much about what happens for them or how epilepsy affects them. For example, some people may have problems with sleep or memory and for some people epilepsy may affect their mental health. 

Information updated: January 2021
Source Epilepsy Foundation

Epilepsy in Animals

Seizures and epilepsy in pets

It can be very upsetting if your pet unexpectedly has a seizure. The best thing to do for your pet is to stay calm. Try and remember our helpful seizure management tips below and then get help from a vet straight away.What are seizures?

Seizures are more commonly called ‘fits’. They happen when usual electrical activity in your pet’s braqin causes them to lose control of their muscles. 

A fit, which can look like a twitch or uncontrollable shaking, can last for a few seconds or for several minutes. Your pet might have one seizure in their lifetime or they could have a condition called epilepsy, which can cause frequent fits if your pet doesn’t get treatment.  

The signs your pet is having a fit

If your pet is about to have a fit, you might notice them behaving oddly. Some animals may look dazed or stare off into the distance before a seizure. They can seem confused or nervous. If your pet has regular fits you might learn to notice these signs so you can tell when a fit is coming.

Although seizures aren’t immediately life-threatening, your pet may lose control of their body, which can be frightening.

Here are some things that usually happen if your pet has a fit:

Fierce trembling or jerking.Glazed eyes.They may dribble.Their jaw could be clamped shut.They might wee or poo during the fit.They might stop reacting to your voice or touch.

What to do if your pet has a fit

It can be very scary if your pet is having a seizure, especially for the first time. The best thing you can do is keep calm and follow our first aid advice.


Call your vet straight away for advice. They might not tell you to bring your pet in right away – it depends on how long the fit lasted and any other symptoms that came with it. Their fit may have been caused by an underlying illness which you don’t know about. The fits could get worse with time and, if they aren’t treated, your pet’s life could be in danger so getting advice from a vet on this is essential.

If your pet has had a seizure which lasts over five minutes or has more than one seizure in a day, it’s important to get them seen by a vet immediately.

Helping your pet recover

Your pet will probably be very dazed and confused after they’ve had a fit. Give them somewhere calm and comfortable to recover. Your vet can offer more advice about how to help your pet recover. Try speaking softly and gently to your pet. This might help them keep calm, especially as they come round after their fit.

What causes pets to have fits?

There are many reasons your pet might have a fit. Sometimes it’s a one-off episode, but a seizure can also be a sign of a more serious underlying condition.

Common causes are:

Pets suffering from epilepsy can have regular fits and sometimes need medication to keep them under control.If your pet has an untreated illness – such as kidney disease or diabetes – they might have fits.Head trauma. If your pet has fallen over or knocked their head on something, they could have a fit.Heat stroke. Overheating is very serious for pets and could cause them to have a seizure. You can find out more about the signs and symptoms of heatstroke here.Some poisons can affect your pet’s brain and cause them to have a fit. If you’ve noticed them eating or drinking anything them shouldn’t, speak to your vet immediately. You can find out more about common poisons and hazards here.

What is epilepsy?

Epilepsy is a condition that can cause regular fits. Seizures might be triggered by something in the pet’s environment, like bright lights or loud noises, or even high levels of excitement or stress.

There’s no cure for epilepsy and we’re still not sure what causes some pets to have it and not others. The good news is that epilepsy can usually be managed with medication and regular check-ups. Most epileptic pets go on to live very happy and normal lives, so long as their owner works with their vet to keep on top of the condition.

Epilepsy can happen in any pet, but dogs are more likely to suffer from it. They usually start to show signs of epilepsy at around 2-3 years old, although it can develop at any age. Certain breeds are more likely to develop it than others, including:

Irish SettersGolden RetrieversDachshundsPoodlesGerman Shepherds.
Source PDSA


What’s Epilepsy?

Epilepsy is a chronic disorder, the hallmark of which is recurrent, unprovoked seizures. A person is diagnosed with epilepsy if they have two unprovoked seizures (or one unprovoked seizure with the likelihood of more) that were not caused by some known and reversible medical condition like alcohol withdrawal or extremely low blood sugar.

The seizures in epilepsy may be related to a brain injury or a family tendency, but often the cause is completely unknown. The word “epilepsy” does not indicate anything about the cause of the person’s seizures or their severity.

Many people with epilepsy have more than one type of seizure and may have other symptoms of neurological problems as well. Sometimes EEG (electroencephalogram) testing, clinical history, family history, and outlook are similar among a group of people with epilepsy. In these situations, their condition can be defined as a specific epilepsy syndrome.

Essentially, anything the brain can do, it can do in the form of a seizure.

Although the symptoms of a seizure may affect any part of the body, the electrical events that produce the symptoms occur in the brain. The location of that event, how it spreads, how much of the brain is affected, and how long it lasts all have profound effects. These factors determine the character of a seizure and its impact on the individual.

Having seizures and epilepsy can affect one’s safety, relationships, work, driving, and so much more. Public perception and treatment of people with epilepsy are often bigger
Source Epilepsy Foundation

The Flue Jab and Epilepsy

What about the flu jab?

The JCVI has said that the Covid-19 vaccine booster and the flu jab can be given at the same time. However, people with epilepsy are not automatically entitled to the flu jab. This is at the discretion of your GP.

The NHS has published a list of serious long-term health conditions which qualify for the free flu vaccine. However, it stresses the following:

“Talk to your doctor if you have a long-term condition that is not in one of these groups. They should offer you the flu vaccine if they think you’re at risk of serious problems if you get flu.”

This means that anyone with epilepsy is entitled to request a free flu vaccine from their GP, even though they are not in the defined risk group.
Sour Epilepsy Action

People with epilepsy included in priority group 6 for Covid vaccine

Epilepsy Action have spoken directly with the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) who have assured us that epilepsy is included in priority group 6 as defined by the Joint Committee on Vaccinations and Immunisations.

The main risk groups identified by the Committee are as follow

Chronic respiratory disease, including chronic obstructive
pulmonary disease (COPD), cystic fibrosis and severe asthma
Chronic heart disease (and vascular disease)
Chronic kidney disease
Chronic liver disease
Chronic neurological disease including epilepsy
Down’s syndrome
Severe and profound learning disability
Solid organ, bone marrow and stem cell transplant recipients
People with specific cancers
Immunosuppression due to disease or treatment
Asplenia and splenic dysfunction
Morbid obesity
Severe mental illness.
Other groups at higher risk, including those who are in receipt of a carer’s allowance, or those who are the main carer of an elderly or disabled person whose welfare may be at risk if the carer falls ill, should also be offered vaccination alongside these
Source Epilepsy Action