Corona Virus

We answer questions that people living with epilepsy and their relatives may be asking about the new coron­avirus and the disease COVID-19.

It is said that people with pre-existing medical condi­tions are at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19. Is epilepsy not one of those conditions?

According to the evidence currently avail­able, people with epilepsy alone are not at risk of more severe symptoms from coron­avirus, although this is not the case for those who have additional medical condi­tions. Never­the­less, everyone should still take measures to avoid infec­tion and should follow the guide­lines. These have been trans­lated into many different languages. Protect yourself and others

Do epilepsy medica­tions weaken the immune system, thus putting people at greater risk?

Most people with epilepsy have a normal immune system unless it has been compro­mised by other medical condi­tions or treat­ments. They should make sure they continue to take their medica­tion regularly. Only a small number of treat­ments weaken the immune system, including ACTH, steroids and immunother­a­pies, and to a lesser extent pheny­toin, pheno­bar­bital and primi­done (Mysoline®).

If someone catches COVID-19, will they have more seizures?

Fever can trigger epileptic seizures. Other triggers are stress, anxiety or disrupted sleep caused by worry about the current situa­tion, irreg­ular eating and drinking patterns and not taking medica­tion regularly (e.g. due to vomiting). According to the infor­ma­tion we have so far from countries more severely affected by COVID-19, the risk of it causing additional seizures is relatively low.

What should we do if the disease leads to more frequent seizures?

If this happens, ring your doctor and your neurol­o­gist, and follow their advice. In this situa­tion it might be advis­able to have emergency medica­tion at hand. If a seizure lasts more than 3 minutes and no emergency medica­tion is avail­able, or it has no effect: protect the person having the seizure from being injured and ring 144. First aid during a seizure

My doctor’s appoint­ment has been cancelled. What can I do?

Health­care insti­tu­tions might have to postpone non-urgent surgery and treat­ments. If you need to speak to your doctor urgently, you should be able to arrange a telephone consul­ta­tion. Other­wise the appoint­ment will have to be postponed to a later date.

Will epilepsy medica­tions continue to be available?

We don’t currently know of any coronavirus-related supply short­ages. As a precau­tion, all prescrip­tion drugs are currently being rationed. People with chronic condi­tions such as epilepsy are allowed to get a two-month supply of their medica­tion. We recom­mend you do not let your personal supplies run low – make sure you phone up for your next prescrip­tion in plenty of time.

More infor­ma­tion by EpiCare

Author: Stephan Rüegg; page last updated: 29 October 2020