What is reflex epilepsy? Is this related to triggers?
Some people may notice that their seizures occur in response to very specific stimuli or situations, as if the seizure is a ‘reflex’. There is a type of epilepsy called ‘reflex epilepsy‘ – in this type, seizures occur consistently in relation to a specific trigger.
- For example, one type of reflex epilepsy is photosensitive epilepsy where seizures are triggered specifically by flashing lights.
- Other types of reflex epilepsies may be seizures triggered by the act of reading or by noises.
- These reflex epilepsies are not common, but knowing if you have this form of epilepsy will help you learn how to manage them!
How can I tell if something is a trigger?
Great question and a common one too! Sometimes people think just because a situation happened once or twice, it’s a trigger to all their seizures. It’s important to realize that a trigger is something that occurs fairly consistently before seizures and more often than by chance. To identify triggers, try a few of these strategies:
- Whenever you have a seizure, note what time of day it occurs, special situations surrounding it, or how you felt. Note if any of the commonly reported triggers were present.
- Write these in your seizure diary. Do this consistently, for each seizure.
- If you notice that a situation or event is happening pretty consistently before seizures, now you need to know if it also happens at other times.
- For example, you note that you were sleep deprived before 2 out of 3 seizures in the past 3 months. But when you look at your sleep patterns, you didn’t have seizures all the other times you were sleep deprived. And you don’t sleep well most of the time. In this situation, sleep deprivation isn’t good for you, but probably doesn’t trigger seizures all by itself. You still need to work on improving your sleep, but there may be other things going on too.
- Track a suspected trigger in your diary. Note whenever it happens and not just when you have a seizure. Then you can see how often it happens with seizures as compared to other times.
- If you have a form of reflex epilepsy, talk to your doctor about the trigger. Knowing the type of epilepsy and trigger can help you build in ways to avoid the triggers whenever possible or find ways to lessen their effect on you.