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Epilepsy and Seizures

Special Concerns for TeenagersConcerns About The Future

When Carol was twelve, her body started to change. She grew three inches in one year, gained twenty pounds, grew pubic hair, developed breasts, began using antiperspirant, and got her first period. She spent lots of time admiring herself in the mirror and experimenting with different hairstyles. There was nothing she wanted more than to hang out with her friends. All of this was normal for a girl Carol's age. But at this same time, unlike most girls her age, Carol was diagnosed with epilepsy.

Today Carol is fifteen, and her seizures have been controlled with medication. She has been able to lead a mostly normal life as a teenager. She has taken medication three times a day for the past three years. Because of the medication, she never even thinks about using drugs or drinking She leads a healthy lifestyle and makes sure she gets enough sleep.

“When I first started to take my medication, the doctor needed to measure my blood level every two or three weeks” Carol says. “I didn't like hav ing my blood drawn, and going to the doctor so often took up a lot of my time. Now my blood level is checked only once or twice a year. I don't like taking the medication — it has a few side effects — but it is way better than having seizures.”

Carol keeps a journal, and she noticed that when she used to have frequent seizures, they always occurred around the time of her periods. This hap pens to a lot of girls and women with epilepsy, although no one is sure why. Keeping a journal is a good idea for many people, but it can be especially helpful for girls who have a seizure disorder.

Carol has other concerns. She wonders if she will be able to date, get married, and have children someday. The answer to all three questions is yes.

Most teenagers want to date. Everyone wants to find someone special to love. Beginning to date will be a new experience for you—and also for your parents. To make it easier, try to talk to them about your concerns and ask them about theirs. Discussing things in advance can help prevent many problems when you start to date.

It is smart to tell your date about your epilepsy. Many people have misconceptions about seizures, and talking about epilepsy will help relieve some of your anxiety as well as theirs. Your date should also know what to do in case you have a seizure.

Alcohol and drugs can cause seizures in anyone. These substances have special risks for people who take antiseizure medication because of the way that drugs and alcohol interact with the medication. If you want confidential information about the risks of alcohol and drugs for epileptics, you can contact the Epilepsy Foundation of America.

If you are a teen with epilepsy and you are sexually active, be aware of the risks of date rape, the need to practice safe sex, and the proper use of birth control methods. Girls should know that antiseizure medications can interfere with the effectiveness of birth control pills, thereby putting them at greater risk of pregnancy.

Many girls and women with epilepsy wonder if they will be able to have children. In almost all cases, they can if a doctor carefully monitors their health during the pregnancy. There is some risk to a developing fetus from antiseizure medications, and any woman with epilepsy who is thinking about getting pregnant should discuss this with her health care provider first.

New mothers who have epilepsy need to plan how they can safely care for their babies in case they have a seizure. Children of parents who have epilepsy should learn safety procedures in case their parents have a seizure. Even very young children can be taught to call 911 if a parent has a seizure.

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Science EncyclopediaEpilepsyEpilepsy and Seizures - Special Concerns for Teenagers - Epilepsy And Driving, Activities And Classes, Epilepsy And Your Family, Concerns About The Future