Self-Control of Seizures

Many epilepsy patients have warnings of their seizures and have learned techniques to "fight off a seizure." The warnings may take the form of certain symptoms that occur 20 minutes to several days before a seizure. Such symptoms may include irritability, depression, fatigue, "not feeling right," or a headache. Patients who have well-defined symptoms of this kind potentially can help prevent a seizure from occurring by getting more sleep or taking additional medication (either their usual medicines or a “rescue” medicine such as lorazepam) under a doctor’s supervision.

Some patients have a simple partial seizure that occurs seconds before a complex partial or tonic-clonic seizure. They may be able to "block" the seizure from progressing, but the individual’s technique to stop seizure progression is often hard to describe. It is a real but idiosyncratic phenomenon. Some patients report that they need to "focus on a difficult problem," "get up and walk," "relax," or keep repeating to themselves "no, no, no." Some patients who experience a tingling sensation or jerking movement in an arm or leg can prevent a tonic-clonic seizure by vigorously rubbing or scratching the arm or leg. Similarly, some patients with seizures beginning with a smell (olfactory aura) can stop their seizure from progressing by smelling an unrelated strong odor.

More examples of self-control of seizures appear in a book, Epilepsy: A New Approach, by Adrienne Richard and Joel Reiter.