• By Cynthia Weiss

COVID-19: Tips for people with neurologic issues, such as epilepsy and seizure disorders

April 7, 2020
a young woman with her hands to her head in extreme pain from a headache or migraine

Though patients with chronic neurologic conditions like epilepsy are not at increased risk to contract COVID-19, they are more susceptible to increased seizures as a result of growing stress and anxiety over the pandemic.

"We know that stress increases the environment for seizures to occur," says Dr. Joseph Sirven, a Mayo Clinic neurologist. "So with all that's going on in the world, one can be at increased risk for seizures."

Dr. Sirven shares three recommendations to help patients with epilepsy or seizure disorders:

  1. Reduce stress.
    To reduce stress, Dr. Sirven advises limiting news to twice daily and taking time for relaxation.
  2. Create a seizure action plan.
    "I suggest that you talk to your neurologist or other provider, and develop a seizure action plan," says Dr. Sirven. "That means figuring out in advance when should you call 911, when should you call the physician or provider about it, and when should you worry?"
  3. Have all your medication on hand ― both what you need for daily use and to aid in reducing stress.
    "This may be the time to do the three-month prescription refill plan so that you have plenty of medication regardless and you don't have to call anyone for any urgent refills of those prescriptions."

Watch: Dr. Sirven discusses neurological issues and COVID-19.

Journalists: Broadcast-quality sound bites with Dr. Sirven are in the downloads at the end of the post. Please courtesy "Joseph Sirven, M.D. / Neurology / Mayo Clinic."

For more information about COVID-19 and epilepsy, visit the Epilepsy Foundation of America and view a Facebook discussion with Dr. Sirven.

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For the latest updates on the COVID-19 pandemic, check the CDC website. For more information and COVID-19 coverage, go to the Mayo Clinic News Network and mayoclinic.org.

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