Epilepsy and Halloween

Coping with Epilepsy at Halloween

The air is crisp and the falling leaves are brilliant shades of oranges and reds. It can therefore only mean one thing; Autumn has arrived.

Other than chillier days, and darker evenings the Autumn season brings with it Halloween, a day loved by many. A day when children and adults alike can embrace the creativity of dressing up and attend themed parties. However, potential frights, flashing lights, and a stash of chocolate and sweets can be potentially harmful for individuals who have epilepsy.

The Origins of All Hallows Eve

Surprisingly Halloween is one of the oldest holidays in our calendar that is still celebrated today. For many it is simply an opportunity to dress up, attend parties and eat lots of sweet food whilst others view it as a day to get involved with superstitions, ghosts, and spirits.

Traditionally referred to as All Hallows Eve, the evening before All Saints Day, 31st October is the last day of the Celtic calendar and a pagan holiday to honour the dead. Perhaps surprisingly for many, Halloween in fact originated on this side of the pond. The holiday is thought to have been instigated with the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain where people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off roaming ghosts.

These traditions date back approximately 2,000 years where Celts in Ireland, the UK, and Northern France celebrated their new year on November 1st and ensued to mark the end of summer and the harvest and instead embrace the beginning of dark cold winters which were all too often associated with death. Subsequently it was believed that the worlds between the living and the dead became blurred and the spirits of the dead were able to return to earth.

Consequences of Celebrating Halloween

For the most part people have forgotten the origins of why we celebrate Halloween. Instead 31st October is a commercialised holiday with homes across the nation spending millions on costumes, decorations, and sweet treats. It is rather an evening for children to acquire sweets by the bucket load and adults to attend ghost and ghoul themed parties.

However, for many individuals at Halloween the excitement can have far worse consequences than simply being terrified of what might be lurking around the next corner. A range of seizure trigger factors are in play during the Halloween weekend as people take part in this hectic rush. With both excitement and stress in play the body can feel the wrath meaning that taking action to ensure a calm atmosphere and stable routine is essential to prevent overexcitement and lack of sleep leading to seizures.

What Can You Do?

Fortunately for the majority, people are still able to take part in the celebrations and simply need to take additional care with a few straightforward tips:

  • Avoid deterring from regular routines too much. Stick to set bedtimes and the usual limitations should apply to the amount of confectionary consumed by children. We?d also suggest that in the lead up to Halloween, particularly the night before, your child should get plenty of rest in order to avoid sleep deprivation.
  • Ensure that your child is accompanied by an adult who knows about their Epilepsy and is able to assist should a seizure take place.
  • When trick or treating stick to local areas to avoid any undue stress or anxiety that comes with unfamiliar environments.
  • Ensure medications are taken as normal
  • Be wary of potential strobe lighting. Whilst decorations and lighting are relatively difficult to avoid those put up by public organisations in the UK have to comply with health and safety regulations. If you or someone you care for is caught in the midst of flashing lights ensure that they don?t close their eyes as this is likely to increase the risk of a seizure. Instead ensure that they cover one eye with the palm of the hand and turn away from the trigger. This will reduce the intensity and number of brain cells stimulated by the lights.
  • Finally, when attending parties and Halloween get togethers avoid drinking excessive amounts of alcohol.

Healthy Halloween TreatsCreating New Traditions

Despite what the majority do, Halloween doesn?t have to be based solely around trick or treating and eating mountains of sweets and chocolates. Why not make your own traditions instead?

You could hold your own Halloween party for either your family or the kids and their friends. This means you are able to more closely control what food is consumed creating themed treats made from fruit, veg, or alternative ketogenic recipes. A ?scary? dinner followed by party games such as apple bobbing is a sure winner.

Alternatively you could have a family ?horror? movie evening with fancy dress still in play and your carefully crafted pumpkins alight in the corner. If you?d still like to take your child trick or treating but are facing sweet and dietary restrictions you could encourage them to hand over their collection in return for alternative treats such as small toys, games, or even money.

We found one dad who wrote to his neighbours explaining that his young son has Epilepsy and can?t eat sweets but would still like to participate in this tradition. Attached to the letter was a small toy which they would hand to him when he knocked at the door.

More Help and Information

If you require additional help and advice this Halloween, or in fact at any time, don?t hesitate to give our team a call on 01530 231 484 or 0845 217 9952.

If you are currently experiencing seizures, or care for someone who is, you could benefit from a range of epilepsy support monitors. All of our alarms and monitors have been designed to provide peace of mind and an increased independence for both individuals and their carers.