Season for Seizures?

Spectrum Health Shares What Subtle Signs May Signal Trouble

Holidays are great for family, friends and fun but celebrating the season can lead to health concerns for some people.

“I call this the season for seizures,” said Nikesh Ardeshna, MD, neurologist, Spectrum Health Medical Group. The epileptologist, who has spent many holidays working in hospitals, says it is not unusual this time of year to see a jump in the number of emergency room patients who have suffered a seizure.

Research studies confirm a link between epileptic seizures and stress. The holidays can be very stressful so family and friends need to be aware of this possibility for people who have a history of seizures.

“Although this is a time for celebration, being aware of possible seizure activity and providing timely intervention can prevent complications,” said Dr. Ardeshna. “Many caregivers and family members are well-suited to recognize and manage an occasional seizure, but if things seem out of the ordinary – like a more prolonged seizure, potential injury, or delayed recovery – help may be needed quickly.”

Dr. Ardeshna advises all patients and their families to have an emergency plan if seizure activity becomes evident.

Stress is not the only factor that can lead to seizures that is common during the holidays. Sometimes holiday activities and plans for the festivities can lead cause people to forget to take their medications.

Dr. Ardeshna says other seizure triggers include:

  • Crowds, such as can be found at the mall buying or returning gifts
  • Lack of sleep and decreased sleep due to late parties and travel
  • Alcohol
  • Loud noises or music
  • Bright and flashing lights

 Seizures take many different forms and can occur in people with no history of such episodes.

“Seizures can be very subtle. Pay attention if someone stops talking for a period of time, stares into space, is suddenly losing their train of thought, or is having abnormal movements — not all seizures involve shaking of the body,” he explained. “If you think someone is having a problem, don’t wait to get them help, even if it means a late night run to the hospital. If you do the right thing, there will be plenty of time for fun later.”

Spectrum Health is a not-for-profit health system in West Michigan offering a full continuum of care through the Spectrum Health Hospital Group, which is comprised of nine hospitals including Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital, a state of the art children’s hospital that opened in January 2011, and 140 service sites; the Spectrum Health Medical Group and West Michigan Heart, physician groups totaling more than 700 providers; and Priority Health, a health plan with 600,000 members. Spectrum Health is West Michigan’s largest employer with 19,000 employees. The organization provided $204 million in community benefit during its 2012 fiscal year.