Dealing With Epilepsy At Work

Epilepsy is a general term that includes various types of seizures that occur repeatedly. A seizure happens when there is abnormal electrical activity in the brain causes an involuntary change in body movement or function, sensation, awareness, or behavior.

People diagnosed with epilepsy have had more than one seizure, and they may have had more than one kind of seizure. A seizure can last from a few seconds to a few minutes. Some individuals recover immediately from a seizure, while others may be dazed and sleepy for a period of time following a seizure.

The severity of epilepsy and the type of seizure vary from person to person. For most people with epilepsy, no single cause has been determined. Seizures may result from:

  • illness (including high fever)
  • head trauma
  • stroke
  • brain tumor
  • poisoning
  • infection
  • inherited conditions
  • brain disorders
  • problems during fetal development

Individuals with epilepsy successfully perform all types of jobs, including heading corporations, teaching and caring for children, and working in retail and customer service positions. Yet, many employers wrongly assume that people with epilepsy automatically should be excluded from certain jobs.

The reality is that because anti epileptic drugs (AED) totally control seizures for up to 80 percent of the people with epilepsy, many employers do not know when someone in the workplace has this condition. Some people whose epilepsy is not completely controlled experience a sensation or warning called an “aura” that lets them know that they are about to have a seizure. Many other people with epilepsy only have seizures while asleep (nocturnal seizures) or seizures that do not cause loss of consciousness or motor control.

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Finally, because medications usually can control seizures for most people, they do not need to take time off from work because of their epilepsy. To assume someone will be unable to do a job because they have epilepsy is often wrong and may be discriminatory.

Many people with epilepsy have few barriers to achievement and can be just as efficient and productive as anyone else.

Seizures at the work place

There are many different seizure types and characteristics. A large number of seizures are very subtle and go unnoticed. In most instances, seizures are not as bad as what people think, and the chances of someone having a seizure at work may be very small.

Both employees and employers need to understand the implications of epilepsy within the workplace and both have a duty of care to ensure a safe working environment. There has previously been very little information available about epilepsy, and like many other people, employers often have misconceptions and apprehensions. It is important for employers and colleagues to gain an understanding of seizure recognition, first aid and dispel any myths about epilepsy.

Safety in the workplace

A large number of people with epilepsy have a warning they are going to have a seizure, so they are able to move to a safer environment before it begins.

Safety also depends on the nature of the job itself. Certain occupations are more risky if seizures are not controlled. These can include working:

  • At heights
  • Near open water
  • Around unguarded apparatus or machinery
  • With high voltage or open circuit electricity
  • With firearms
  • Around fires or dangerous chemicals
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Do people with epilepsy take more sick leave?

Having epilepsy does not mean someone is going to take more time off work or be less reliable than the next person. People with epilepsy generally have no different absenteeism records than other people and have good job loyalty records. This is often because many people with epilepsy have good seizure control with medication and therefore do not have seizures.

Also, it can be difficult obtaining a job for some people, so they value the job they have and are keen to prove themselves.

For people experiencing seizures, time taken off work will vary from person to person according to the type, frequency of seizures experienced and the time taken to recover afterwards.

How will colleagues react?

Sometimes it may be necessary to inform coworkers of another employee’s epilepsy.

It is important to respect any employee’s privacy. Always discuss speaking to fellow coworkers with the employee first. The employee should really be the person to inform their coworkers about their epilepsy.

Everyone’s reaction will be individual. People’s greatest fear is not knowing what to do in case of a seizure. Most people are more comfortable with epilepsy when they understand it, know the possibility of a seizure occurring and what procedures to follow if a seizure occurs, so education of colleagues, especially first aid, is quite important.

Do’s and don’ts during seizures

  • Keep calm, help the patient lie down.
  • Remove spectacles and loosen tight clothing
  • Clear the area of hard, sharp objects, which could hurt the patient.
  • Do not allow crowding around patient and allow free air circulation.
  • Do not restrain convulsive movements
  • Do not force anything between teeth
  • Turn patient on the side to allow saliva draining
  • After the attack, if patient is sleepy, permit rest
  • Do not offer anything to eat or drink until patient is fully conscious
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Call a doctor only if:

  • The patient is injured
  • Has repeated seizures
  • Patient is unconscious for a long time
  • The patient has difficulty breathing
  • It’s the patient’s first seizure

Anti epileptic treatments

Seizures are well controlled by the AEDs available in the market. However it is imperative for patients to maintain the health of all neurons and all neural connections in the brain. Taking natural supplement will help, as it is 100% natural and safe.

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