by Dale Robinson


8 February 2021


“Your guide to travelling with Epilepsy
By Phil Day, Superintendent Pharmacist – Pharmacy2U

Today (February 8th) marks International Epilepsy Day, so we caught up with Phil Day, Superintendent Pharmacist at Pharmacy2U to find out more about the condition, treatment and the impact it could have when travelling.

What is epilepsy?


Epilepsy is actually a group of conditions that affect the brain and can cause seizures. These are bursts of electrical activity in the brain that temporarily affect how it works and can cause a wide range of symptoms (but not all seizures are related to epilepsy).

Epilepsy can start at any age but tends to be first diagnosed in childhood or in people aged over 65.

It is a lifelong condition but can be treated with medication and can sometimes get better over time.

“Did you know that Epilepsy affects around 1 in 100 people in the UK?”

What are the symptoms?


Epileptic seizures can affect people in different ways, depending on which part of the brain is involved.

Symptoms can include:

  • Uncontrollable jerking and shaking
  • Losing awareness and staring blankly into space
  • Becoming stiff
  • Strange sensations such as a ‘rising’ feeling in the stomach, unusual smells or tastes, and a tingling feeling in your arms or legs
  • Collapsing
  • Sometimes you may pass out and not remember what happened

What is the treatment for epilepsy?


Treatments aim to reduce the number and severity of seizures.

Treatments include:

  • Anti-epileptic medication – this is the most common way the condition is managed, and other treatments are only considered if these medicines do not work well.
  • Surgery to remove a small part of the brain that is causing the seizures
  • A procedure to put a small electrical device inside the body that can help control seizures
  • A special diet (ketogenic diet) which is introduced under medical supervision

Living with epilepsy


Epilepsy is usually a lifelong condition, and most people are able to live normally if their seizures are well controlled.

There are things you can do to help control your seizures and make sure you stay safe in your everyday life:

  • Make sure to take your anti-epileptic medication as agreed with your doctor
  • Keep a seizure diary, detailing when you have them and what you were doing beforehand – this may help you identify any triggers so you can avoid them in future; e.g. feeling stressed
  • Have regular reviews of your epilepsy and treatment with your GP
  • Take precautions at home to make sure you stay safe if you have a seizure e.g. cover any sharp furniture corners, don’t lock the bathroom door, take a shower instead of a bath.

You can get more advice on living with epilepsy here.

Travelling with epilepsy


If your seizures are well controlled, there shouldn’t be a problem travelling with epilepsy.

There are a few precautions however, that you should take when preparing for a trip:

  • Make sure you have plenty of your epilepsy medication with you.
  • Take more than the length of your trip in case you lose any or there are unexpected delays.
  • It is also a good idea to pack your medication in your hand luggage to minimise the chances of your medication getting lost.
  • Get the correct Travel Insurance, and make sure to disclose that you have epilepsy. Just Travel Cover specialise in Travel Insurance for people with medical conditions including Epilepsy.  You should also make a note of the relevant emergency contact numbers.
  • Travel with a copy of your prescription; this is just in case you have problems with security at the airport or in case you lose your medication and need help to get hold of more while you are away.
  • Check the time difference for where you are going. (If there is a time difference where taking your epilepsy medicine may fall at a difficult time, you may be able to gradually change the time you take your medication in the weeks before you travel) You should check with your GP or pharmacist.
  • Consider carrying an epilepsy ID card to let people know you have epilepsy in the event that you have a seizure while you are on your holiday.
  • If you have frequent seizures, consider telling the cabin crew on the plane about your epilepsy so they are aware and can help you if you have a seizure.

Get the medication you need with Pharmacy2U


If you have been prescribed medication for epilepsy, you’re likely to be taking them on a long term basis.

Pharmacy2U can help you get your medication conveniently and safely, delivering your repeat NHS prescriptions directly to your door, for free.

Learn more here about how we’re helping our patients avoid unnecessary trips to stay safe and healthy, to protect and support the NHS.

For more advice, talk to your GP or pharmacist.

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