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news

Coronavirus (COVID-19) and Epilepsy

Dr Simona Balestrini is the Muir Maxwell Research Fellow at the Epilepsy Society. Here, she has put together an FAQ factsheet for those with epilepsy about the coronavirus (COVID-19).

1. Do I have a higher risk to get the coronavirus if I suffer from epilepsy?

There is no evidence of increased risk of coronavirus infection in people with epilepsy compared to the general population. The risk is increased in people with weakened immune systems, older people, and those with long-term conditions like diabetes, cancer and chronic lung disease.

2. Do people with epilepsy have a weakened immune system?

There is no evidence that people with epilepsy have a weakened immune system, therefore they should not be considered ‘immunocompromised’ or to have an ‘immune deficiency’. Obviously, there are individual differences, e.g. some people with epilepsy might have a weakened immune system due to co-existing other health conditions and associated immunosuppressive treatment.

3. Does treatment with antiepileptic medications increased the risk of coronavirus infection?

There is no evidence of increased risk of coronavirus infection in people taking antiepileptic medications. Therefore, it is important to keep taking your epilepsy medicine as usual throughout any illness.

4. What should I do to avoid the infection?

There are a number of measures that might help in reducing the risk of infection. These include: avoid close contact with people who are unwell; hand hygiene (wash hands with soap and water, or use alcohol hand gel, often, especially after using public transport and at any time before eating); cover the mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing with a tissue or a sleeve; try to avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are unclean. Try to keep healthy by following a nutritious diet and taking gentle exercise. Keep your home well ventilated by keeping the window open.

5. What should I do if I have symptoms?

At present, it is recommended to stay at home for 7 days if you have either a high temperature, or a new persistent cough and you live alone. If you live with others and you, or one of them, have symptoms, then the whole household must stay at home and not leave the house for 14 days. This will help protect others in the community while people are infectious. Please follow the advice from Public Health England (PHE) which is updated daily: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-information-for-the-public. If you do become unwell and suspect you could have coronavirus, use the NHS 111 coronavirus service or ring 111 for advice.

Most cold medicines that you might consider for symptom relief (typically paracetamol to control fever or muscle aches) are fine.  But take advice before using products containing diphenhydramine (such as Benadryl). Just check the label before purchasing any products. If in doubt, check with the epilepsy team.

6. Will people with epilepsy be more severely affected by coronavirus?

For most people, coronavirus causes mild symptoms, and they recover quickly after a few days. Currently there is no information to say that people with epilepsy are more severely affected than people without health conditions.

7. If I catch coronavirus could it trigger a seizure?

There is no information about coronavirus triggering seizures in people with epilepsy. However, infections, fever (particularly in children), sleep deprivation and in general being unwell can trigger seizures in some people with epilepsy.

8. If I catch coronavirus, do I need any specific treatment?

As described above, many of your flu symptoms can be reduced with over the counter medications.  The doctors involved in treating you might recommend antivirals, antibiotics or other specific treatment.  Occasionally these may interact with your anti-epileptics, reducing their effectiveness or causing side effects.  Always let know doctors treating you that you are taking anti-epileptic medications and ensure you know the dose and type of tablets you use. 

9. Will the situation with coronavirus lead to shortages of my epilepsy medicine?

The Department of Health and Social Care is working with drug companies to minimise any impact of coronavirus on drug supplies. Drug companies have already built up stockpiles of medicines in preparation for Brexit and have now been asked to maintain this level of stockpiling. This should mean medicines will continue to be available, even if there are temporary disruptions to the supply chain. Do not try to stockpile your medication in case you have to self-isolate. This could cause shortages of medications and put others at risk of a seizure. It is best to carry on as normal.

10. If I have to self-isolate how will I get my medicines?

The NHS is currently advising people who may have been exposed to coronavirus to self-isolate. Just in case you need to do this, you may wish to think now about how you would get your medicines. This could be getting a friend or family member to collect your prescriptions for you. Or you could make arrangements for your pharmacy to deliver your medicines to your home. You may wish to check with them now if they offer this service, and how to sign up to it. Most prescriptions are now signed, sent and processed electronically.

Make sure you are registered for online services through your GP. This will enable you to book, check or cancel appointments online and order repeat prescriptions. Take your prescription to your pharmacy in plenty of time – up to seven days before you need your medication. This will allow your pharmacist to call other pharmacies or suppliers if there are any delays in getting your medication. Ordering your prescription in good time will also enable you to visit another pharmacy if your own pharmacy is temporarily closed due to the coronavirus.

Thanks to Epilepsy Society for these wonderful and helpful tips : https://www.epilepsysociety.org.uk/epilepsy-and-coronavirus-covid-19-faqs#.XnDuHZP7SL8

Categories
news

New Seizing Life Podcast

Seizing Life® is a CURE audio podcast and webcast, which aims to inspire empathy, offers helpful stories, and to give hope – as we search for a cure for Epilepsy and seizures.

Listen as guests share stories and insights on living with and battling epilepsy – via the following links :

https://www.cureepilepsy.org/seizing-life/

https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/seizing-life?refid=stpr

Categories
epilepsy Media news

Sarah’s Epilepsy Fundraising Story

Sarah Reid – is an inspiration and a member of the Bristol Epilepsy Support Group, in Bristol, England.

In spite of undergoing surgery for left temporal lobe epilepsy this year at Southmead Hospital, Bristol, Sarah has still managed to fundraise relentlessly for the five charities closest to her heart: Epilepsy Society, Young Epilepsy, Epilepsy Action, Young Carers and Mothers for Mothers.

‘Fundraising is a way of giving back,’ said Sarah. ‘Epilepsy Society and the other four charities have always been there for me when I have needed them. They have supported me in the lead up to my surgery, they have been there for me when I have been having a down day or when I have been struggling with my seizures or with employment issues.

Sarah fund raises for the #epilepsy group in Bristol, she says that…

It was rewarding giving a cheque last night  (February 6th, 2018) for over £40 to Bristol Epilepsy Support Group!

It was lovely giving 107 epilepsy information packs with laylas book epilepsy book for kid’s inside with 1st aid leaflets young epilepsy sent and young carers leaflets too. With information as well as stickers and balloons to put inside to help making the information packs exciting and educational , raising epilepsy awareness and money for epilepsy charities.

When I was at school teachers told me off for daydreaming when really I was having a seizure. I hope that raising epilepsy awareness in schools will stop what happened to me happening to anyone else.

Sarah also says..

A big thank you to staff and customers at downend co op for helping me to raise the money and to young epilepsy and young carers who kindly donated information leaflets and stickers and balloons. 

Now my next goal is to raise another £700 to send enough information packs for schools in Bristol.   Then my daughters Layla’s book and information packs will be in all South Gloucestershire schools and Bristol schools raising epilepsy awareness.  The cheque from the profit from her book will be sent to the Epilepsy Society in the next few months.

I am at Downend Co-op in Bristol, every week raising money for 7 charities close to my heart and donating Layla’s book EPILEPSY BOOK FOR KID’S to schools, epilepsy charities, to hospitals and to families who need them. 

You can buy the book on AMAZON here : https://www.amazon.co.uk/Epilepsy-Book-Kids-Layla-Reid/dp/1842890190 , or at Waterstones Bookstore in the UK here : https://www.waterstones.com/book/epilepsy-book-for-kids/layla-reid/9781842890196

Sarah continues..

Recently, I was in contact with a lady called Sarah from South Gloucestershire council who found the best was to get my daughter’s epilepsy book to schools was through the school’s nurse’s. I took all the epilepsy information packs to the kingswood hub where the school nurse’s loved them and thought they were a great way to raise epilepsy awareness and money in schools!.

Categories
Action Campaigns epilepsy Epilepsy Action Health news NHS

A Critical Time for Epilepsy in the UK

From the Epilepsy Action website : http://www.epilepsy.org.uk/involved/campaigns/a-critical-time

Today Epilepsy Action has launched its new report, A Critical Time for epilepsy in England. The report shows that epilepsy health services in England are not good enough and vary in many areas. It also shows that many of the new organisations responsible for NHS services are not considering epilepsy in their plans for the future.

Epilepsy Action’s Vice President, Laura Sandys MP, will later formally launch the report at a reception in the House of Commons. Members of Parliament, Members of the House of Lords, key organisations and people with epilepsy will all be in attendance to hear the findings of the report, and Epilepsy Action’s recommendations to improve services.

The surveys

Last year we conducted four surveys around health services for people with epilepsy in England. We believe this makes up the most comprehensive study of epilepsy services ever carried out in the UK. These surveys were of:

  • People with epilepsy.
  • Acute trusts (hospitals and Foundation trusts that provide services).
  • Primary care trusts, primary care trust clusters and newly forming clinical commissioning groups (who provide and buy health services for people).
  • Local authorities, who will soon have a role in deciding local health priorities.

The results from these surveys showed that the services provided at the moment are not good enough.

The headlines

We found that the services currently being provided are not meeting the needs of people with epilepsy. These results mirror similar findings uncovered by Epilepsy Action’s 2009 report, Epilepsy in England: time for change. Just as then, we have found that access to specialists can depend upon where you live. In some places the basic elements of an epilepsy service, such as an epilepsy specialist nurse, are missing.

We also found that not enough is being done to plan for better services once changes to the NHS, planned for April, have taken place. Although we surveyed the organisations during the big NHS changes, it was clear that epilepsy was not featuring in plans as it should have been. This leaves us concerned that there are no plans to address these gaps over the next few years.

Recommendations

Our report carries 10 recommendations that we believe, if carried out, would significantly improve epilepsy services. They include:

  • Each clinical commissioning group agreeing to carry out an assessment of the needs of their patients with epilepsy.
  • All clinicians to make sure their patients with epilepsy have been offered a care plan, and to help them create one if they haven’t.
  • Members of Parliament to follow up this report with their local health trusts to see that they make plans to address the problems we’ve identified.
  • The Health Select Committee in Parliament to conduct a first ever inquiry into epilepsy services. This would hopefully lead to an action plan to address any problems that the Committee identifies.
  • To see all our Recommendations in full, please read our full report.

Copies of the report

This report is aimed at clinicians, health service commissioners and elected officials. However anyone can download a copy. (<< click on this link to download the PDF document of the report)

If you are a clinician or a commissioner, or you are campaigning with us, you can get a free hard copy of this report. To do this, please get in touch with us using the details at the bottom of this page.

Campaign with us

Epilepsy Action is making sure that all MPs, Peers, hospital trusts, clinical commissioning groups and local authorities get a copy of the report. We will be including any relevant results we have for their local area.

However we do not want the report to gather dust on a shelf, without any changes coming as a result. So we are asking our supporters to write to their new CCG and their local authority (council) to ask what actions they will be taking now that they have seen our report.

To help with this, we have made some of the key statistics for each area available on a map. There are two maps – one shows the responses from local authorities, and one which shows what health trusts told us.

We are then encouraging our supporters to promote our report to the service planners in your part of the country.

Below we have drafted two letters to help with this.

  • You can write to your new clinical commissioning group, to ask what plans they have to improve services for people with epilepsy.

Find the contact details of your new CCG. If you are not sure which CCG you belong to, you can contact Epilepsy Action’s campaigns team to help you find out.

You can use (download) this template letter as a starting point to help with your own letter.

  • You can write to your local council, who will soon have new responsibilities for planning local health and social care services.

Find the contact details of your local authority.

You can use (download) this template letter as a starting point to help with your own letter.

If you do write to your local CCG or council, tell us how you get on. This will help us to form a picture of how services are developing around England.

If you would like more information about the research or how you can campaign with us, please contact the Campaigns team by either emailing campaigns@epilepsy.org.uk or calling Epilepsy Action on: 0113 210 8800.

If you work for a NHS health trust, a PCT, a Commissioning Group or local council, and believe we have incorrectly or inaccurately recorded you work we would be happy to receive new information and will update our records accordingly. Please get in touch with the Campaigns team by emailing campaigns@epilepsy.org.uk or calling 0113 210 8800.

Thanks!

PLEASE SHARE AND TALK ABOUT THIS REPORT ! 

 

Categories
epilepsy events Health Podcast

PODCAST: Episode 3 – MEMORY

This is episode 3 of the Epilepsy UK Podcast. It was recorded at the monthly Epilepsy Support Group meeting held in Bristol, United Kingdom, on October 2012.

In this episode – we hear from Dr Margaret Newson, Clinical Neuropsychologist at Frenchay NHS Hospital (in Bristol), who will discuss Epilepsy and its impact on Memory.

Episode 03: Epilepsy and Memory (October 2012)

Audio Duration: 1 Hour 10 Minutes
[mejsaudio src=”http://archive.org/download/EpilepsyPodcastUk-Episode3Memory/ep_pods1_ep3_memory.mp3″%5D

Listen to this 1 hour podcast, to learn about how our brains and memory reacts to Epilepsy seizures, and why can’t we remember anything whilst a seizure takes place.

[hr]

Don’t forget to follow Bristol Epilepsy on Twitter for lots of updates! we are @BristolEpilepsy

This podcast is © Dsoundz Media ( http://www.dsoundz.co.uk ) and was recorded and edited by Sam Downie.
This podcast is episode 3 of the Epilepsy Podcast UK.

Categories
Action Benefits Campaigns Department For Work And Pensions events Health news

Report – Disability campaigner spits at #bristolmayor #LibDem candidate John Rogers, at a #HardestHit peaceful protest in Bristol

On Thursday 25th October, a peaceful #HardestHit protest took place during lunchtime, organised by the Bristol Disability Equality Forum , held outside the Council House in Bristol, UK – yesterday (Thursday 25th Oct 2012).But – a few disruptive things took place, and one of these was picked up by the local press (The Post) who posted this story today “A Disability campaigner spat at #bristolmayor #LibDem candidate Jon Rogers”. And of course, a row broke out between Jon and other people with Disability’s, during this peaceful protest held in Bristol, campaigning against the cuts to Welfare, and employment.

As usual, the token ‘anarchist’, who has their own agenda, gets all the publicity from the media, as well as giving free publicity to two of the mayoral candidates, while the actual reason for the demonstration (i.e. disabled people’s fears of the cuts hitting them) gets a little bit at the end of the report. 

Mark Williams – co-Chair Bristol Disability Equality Forum

Background about the cuts to Welfare in the UK:

A report by the Children’s Society and Disability Rights UK claims 230,000 severely disabled people are set to get between £28 and £58 less in benefits every week, while 100,000 children stand to lose up to £28 a week.

Also – up to 116,000 disabled people whoWORK , will be at risk of losing £40 a week (which helps with costs such as Travel and Work Place adaptions, that employers do not provide!

Ms Kaye Long said: “On a day-to-day basis the cuts will have a huge effect on people’s basic human rights and living conditions. At least half a million disabled people will feel the negative effects.”

What the local Press had to say: (link to this news story)

http://www.thisisbristol.co.uk/Campaigner-spits-mayor-candidate-Jon-Rogers/story-17186260-detail/story.html

Here’s a few quotes, take from The Post (Bristol) (www.thisisbristol.co.uk) who reported on this protest, that I attended:

Quote: 
MAYORAL candidate Jon Rogers was spat at by a demonstrator when he attended a protest over cuts to benefits for disabled people. A man campaigning on behalf of a rival candidate also threw his cigarette at the Liberal Democrat hopeful, who is the city council deputy leader.

Jon Rogers said “he was appalled at what happened and said he believed the actions constituted “assault”.” The campaigner who spat at Jon Rogers, ‘Michael Wright’, attempted to justify his actions by claiming Jon Rogers had “no place” at the march because of Bristol City’s Council’s planned closures of care homes for Disabled and the Elderly.

The activist, who is campaigning for Trade Union and Socialist Coalition mayoral candidate Tom Baldwin, told The Post: “I don’t think he has much of a place at a demonstration like this. He has closed operations for eight care homes in Bristol.”.

After Jon Rogers walked away from the fracas he said: “I have come down here to offer myself up to talk about disability issues, not to be abused in an appalling way. It’s assault.” But Jon Rogers said he did not intend to take the matter further.

Read More:

Read the full article from ‘The Post’ (This Is Bristol), here: http://www.thisisbristol.co.uk/Campaigner-spits-mayor-candidate-Jon-Rogers/story-17186260-detail/story.html

SAM DOWNIE’S COMMENTS ABOUT WHAT TOOK PLACE:

As I was attending this peaceful ‘Hardest Hit’ protest, I’d thought I would share with you. Read to see what really went on and what I observed over the space of Lunchtime.

1. Jon Rogers

Around 20 minutes into this peaceful protest, Jon Rogers came by on his bike, wanting to know what was taking place. He did start to talk to various people, including me and yes he did listen to concerns.

Whilst I was talking to other people, I heard a argument row taking place, between Jon and someone who I didn’t know, someone who I’d thought had just ‘shown up’.  So I walked over to where the row was taking place, and listened for a short while.

No I didn’t see Jon being spat at. No I didn’t see a cigarette flung at him.

But – I did hear Jon say (during the argument taking place) “I don’t support people like you, and I don’t think you all need to be here”. Was this a dig at the person who spat at Jon, or was this a general thought/saying of his to everyone who was there (me included) ? (if that’s the case then that could be called ‘indirect disability discrimination’).


Other people I saw there and talked to were:

– Marvin Rees ( Bristol Mayor, candidate for Labour party) *in this photo

– Tom Baldwin ( Bristol Mayor, candidate – Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition)

thanks both for speaking to me and coming to see what was going on and learning more about the Hardest Hit welfare cuts.

2. Why Was I There ?

Simple. I work. I have a Disability, and I claim Benefits (DLA and Working Tax Credits) which help me to stay in WORK.  I’m a self-employed Journalist (freelance for BBC News, freelance for The Guardian, freelance for Channel 4 + other technology magazines and websites). I’m also a Presenter / broadcaster. More information about me at my website :http://www.dsoundz.co.ukAnd as a Broadcaster/Journalist, these Welfare cuts will effect me, and my work.

Why? well perhaps I can answer it like this: Why do I need to claim Benefits?

3. What’s my Disability ?

It’s simple again. I have 3 forms of Epilepsy. (read more about me and Epilepsy here : http://www.dsoundz.co.uk/sam-and-epilepsy ). Epilepsy effects over half a million people in the UK, and over 50 million people worldwide.

I am banned from Driving (it’s against the law to drive with Epilepsy, where ever you are in the world), so need help with costs for getting to / and back from work.  My seizures effect the way I work too, as Epilepsy effects Memory and body control.

The AED’s (anti-epilepsy drugs) I take, don’t cure Epilepsy… as, there is no cure for Epilepsy… fact!All AEDs help by dampening the effects of seizures. And I take quite a bit of drugs per day to help combat seizures, but like all drugs, there are side-effects.

When you look at me. Ask yourself this: Can you see me having a seizure? (I have over 10 of these a day!). Epilepsy is a ‘hidden disability’, as it’s within the brain. So the next time you see me, do ask me How am I, and ask about what Epilepsy is and how it effects me and my work.

There’s more information about Epilepsy here : http://bristolepilepsy.org.uk/resources/epilepsy-facts/

4. What to do next ? 

Carry on protesting.
Carry on sending out the message that Welfare cuts, will hit everyone – in employment (or not).

What I am doing right now is…  talking to MP’s and various Lords in the HoC, by helping them with research.

I’m also doing some research for the ‘POST’ office (that is the Parliamentary Office for Science and Technology) a government body who discuss research and analysis in all kinds of things, but more recently they have held discussions and posted documents about Welfare benefits looking at things such as IT (technology) and how people with various impairments might not be able to use these new services being introduced by the DWP (department for work and pensions).

I’m also looking into the Data Protection Act and how Fraud is rife within the DWP and it’s Work Programme (but I’ll blog about this at another time).

5. To Sum Up

So before you come to the conclusion that people with Disability’s, do not work / or are benefit scroungers. Do think again ! and make sure you know yourself what the right thing to say is.

Working people like me, ARE tax payers. We pay rent too.  This is why I protest against the Welfare cuts, as it effects employment and a chance in a working life.

A Disability is for life…. fact !

Disability, effects everything around you, and sometimes there’s a small chance of a cure. There isn’t one right now for the over 50 million people worldwide who suffer daily with Seizures and Epilepsy.

So now you can see why I was there at the Hardest Hit protest in Bristol, on Thursday 25th October 2012.

Credits:

photo’s by Sam Downie (c)