Seizures. When one thinks about them, I’m sure what comes to mind is shaking. Lot’s and lot’s of shaking. In fact, it’s probably the only thing that comes to mind. What if I told they could be fatal? Did you know that? Did you know that those who suffer from Epilepsy have a chance of dying from their illness? Well, they do. It’s called Sudden Unexplained Death in Epilepsy Patients or SUDEP. While rare, it does happen. As if those of us who suffer from this already don’t have our anxiety raging off the charts enough with the thought of the next seizure, we also have that thought of “what if” when it comes. It’s a very scary feeling. I know I am one of those people. Being the passionate person that I am, it’s one of the reasons I get a little upset when I hear “it’s just a seizure”. While reserving the notion that maybe they don’t understand, it’s still very inconsiderate. These types of comments are what led to these little ‘Purple Facts’. To help spread Epilepsy awareness and maybe see those comments start to decline.
What causes SUDEP?
I wish I knew and so do Doctors. For years and years, they have been stumped yet they know more now than ever. One of my favorite foundations, The Epilepsy Foundation, is a great place to start for this information. According to their site, there are three common things often associated with SUDEP: Electrical shutdown of the brain, changes in heart function and changing in breathing. Typically, during a seizure, you’d see bouncing of the brainwaves which doctors can see during EEG’s which would recover to normal after a seizure. Unfortunately, some patients’ brainwaves never recover and they succumb, eventually leading to heart failure and loss of breathing. During seizures, we also experience rapid heart beating which can lead to cardiac arrest, other types of heart conditions and syndromes that can contribute to SUDEP. Another common issue associated with SUDEP is breathing. This one hit home to me. I have these little vague, blurred visions of choking when I’m having seizures. I can feel myself not being able to breathe. It’s kind of like drowning and you keep swimming to the top, you see the surface but you never reach it. These changes in breathing, blockages of the airway etc are associated with SUDEP. More detailed information about SUDEP can be found on the Epilepsy Foundation’s website here. I also decided to do a fun little video about this Purple Fact.
We deal with the anxiety and depression on a regular. Some of us anyway. Hearing stuff like this only adds to it. It’s another reason why I encourage all my Epilepsy Warriors to seize the day! While doctors are still exploring the mysteries around SUDEP, they’ve come a long way from where they were. What are some of your experiences with Epilepsy? I find sharing helps a little. Thanks for reading. Check out my other Purple Facts and be looking for my next ones. I love you guys. Until next time, stay medicated. 💜💚🤟🏼