Epilepsy is one of the few conditions that can get better by being disciplined. One of the lesser-known facts about epilepsy is that, in most cases, its symptomatic seizures can be reduced through medication. Individuals diagnosed with epilepsy need to follow a rigid schedule ensuring that their dosage is taken at the precise time every day, along with a regulated and sustainable lifestyle. In most cases, cutting out alcohol intake and other substance abuse, sticking to a planned sleep schedule and avoiding any unwarranted stress can all contribute to a reduced frequency even in more severe cases of epilepsy. However, what happens if you forget to take your epilepsy medication? While missing your bedtime on a particular day might not be a cause for worry, missed epilepsy medication might be.
Missing a dose or two of your seizure medication can make your seizures resurface, regardless of the kind of epilepsy you have. In order to understand why this may happen, it is important to know how epileptic medications work. Most epilepsy medicines work to slow down or alter electrical or chemical transmission in the brain. They either decrease excitation in the brain or increase inhibition in the electrical transmission. So when a dose is missed, there is a chance that the neurons in your brain will start firing up again, more so because of the change in the effects caused by the medication. According to professionals, this could cause more frequent and more intense seizures which can even develop into long seizures known as status epilepticus. These types of seizures are specifically a more severe health risk and can cause extreme injuries and even lead to death.
However, it’s no secret that everyone forgets to follow through with their medical prescription, be it for allergies or post-operative infections. It’s riskier if you miss your only dose than it is if you miss one of a daily batch of three or four doses. In case you miss a dose of your anti-seizure medication, here is the first thing you can do depending on the number of daily doses you have been prescribed:
- One Dose – Take it as soon as you remember it.
- Two Doses – Take the missed dose within 6 hours of missing it. If you miss the time slot, just skip it and take the next one on time.
The latter is to ensure that you don’t take a stronger dose by taking two consecutive anti-seizure medication doses within a shorter time-frame. Apart from that, contacting your health practitioner or neurologist for further aid is recommended.
It is important to know that these remedies can only rectify your situation so much. In the US, more than 80% of patients forget to take their epilepsy medication which should be a cause for concern. A missed dose can weigh heavily on all the efforts that you have been putting in to reduce the frequency of your seizures. In cases like this, the onus is on you to implement a foolproof strategy to avoid missing a dose in the first place. Secondly, you can also work with your medical practitioner to put in place indications that can be followed in case a particular dose is missed. Thirdly, the patient with epilepsy along with their loved ones can be educated on the consequences of a missed dose.
Here are some things you can do to make sure that you don’t forget your dose:
- A dedicated weekly pill box that can sit on your kitchen counter or next to your bed, depending on when you are supposed to take it.
- Set phone alarms, for days when you might be too caught up with things to remember.
- Keep a physical calendar stuck on your fridge to keep you updated.
- Get a prefilled pill box from the pharmacy in case there are too many doses too many different kind of pills.
- Have an emergency stock in case you run out and might not be able to refill on time.
- Read our blog post on tips to remember to take your medication on time.